Caution urged to prevent workplace deaths

WorkSafe is urging all Victorian workplaces to put health and safety first after the tragic deaths of 24 workers in 2019.

The annual toll was one less than the previous year, when 25 workers died as a result of workplace incidents.

WorkSafe Chief Executive Colin Radford said a single workplace death was one too many.

“These are not numbers, these are people – fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, siblings, colleagues, team mates and community members,” Mr Radford said.

“Out of respect for those we have lost and their families, it is time we said enough. It is time to take strong and decisive action.

“There is simply no excuse for cutting corners when it comes to workplace safety.”

Mr Radford said a failure to properly address major safety risks was a common reason for many of the horrific, but preventable incidents.

Nine of the fatalities involved some form of moving machinery or heavy vehicles, which were the most dangerous hazards in Victorian workplaces.

“The risks associated with moving machinery such as tractors, headers, trucks, mobile cranes and scissor lifts are well known so there is simply no excuse for ignoring them,” Mr Radford said.

“All employers must take time to properly assess workplace health and safety risks and plan how to eliminate or manage them, because failing to do so can be fatal.”

There were six deaths on farms in 2019, making them once again the most dangerous workplaces in the state. Another five deaths occurred on constructions sites.

Two of the on farm deaths involved children, aged two and three years old, who died in incidents involving machinery last year.

“Every year the same industries feature prominently in workplace deaths, which is not good enough,” Mr Radford said.

“From July, new workplace manslaughter laws will come into force. So employers are on notice to take their health and safety obligations seriously or risk jail if your negligence causes a workers death.

“If you show a reckless indifference to human life, you will face the full force of these new laws.”

An uncompromising media campaign warning employers of the tough financial penalties and jail terms they face under the new workplace manslaughter laws was launched this week.

Of the 2019 fatalities:

  • Fifteen occurred in regional Victoria, including six in Gippsland, and 10 occurred in metropolitan Melbourne.
  • The eldest was a 73-year-old man who died after he was crushed between his vehicle and an automatic car wash.
  • The youngest was a two-year-old who died when he was crushed by a spreader attachment that fell on him inside a shed.
  • All but one of the victims was male.
  • Eight of the victims were workers aged 60 plus.

Total workplace fatalities 2010-19 (by year)

YearFatalities
201023
201125
201218
201321
201423
201519
201626
201727
201825
201924

2019 Fatalities

  • January 2: A two-year-old boy died after he was crushed by a spreader attachment that fell on him at a farm at Naringal in the state’s south-west.
  • January 11: A 63-year-old man died from injuries he sustained when a scissor lift he was using was struck by a mobile crane and rolled in a Derrimut warehouse on December 22, 2018.
  • January 24: A 55-year-old truck driver died after he was struck by his own truck while collecting a skip bin at Kew.
  • February 1: A 68-year-old man died after he fell about six metres while cleaning a refrigeration unit at a Mordialloc business.
  • February 7: A 26-year-old man died after he was electrocuted when the platform crane he was using while pruning a tree came into contact with powerlines at Hughesdale in Melbourne’s east.
  • February 28: A 60-year-old man died after he was thrown from a horse he was breaking in on a roadside at Carlsruhe near Kyneton.
  • April 7: A 28-year-old man died after he was buried in soil at the base of a dry dam he was excavating at a Gelantipy property in East Gippsland.
  • April 10: A 56-year-old man died after he was crushed between a fence and a garbage truck at Koonwarra in South Gippsland.
  • April 15: A 73-year-old man died when a telehandler dropped the elevated cage he was working in about four metres at a factory in Clayton.
  • April 16: A 60-year-old man died after he fell off a roof and was impaled on a star picket at a Neilborough property near Bendigo.
  • May 4: A 49-year-old man died after he was crushed by a forklift load that slipped from its tynes at a machinery depot at Somerton.
  • June 19: A 46-year-old man died after being struck by a post hole digger at a farm at Raywood, north of Bendigo.
  • July 10: A man, 59, died while helping to fell trees on a property in Buxton.
  • August 12: A 65-year-old man died after falling from a ladder while installing skylights at a construction site in Rutherglen.
  • August 30: A 22-year-old female apprentice jockey died after falling from a horse during trackwork at Cranbourne Racecourse.
  • September 11: A 56-year-old man died after a brick wall collapsed on him during demolition works at a residential building site in Ballarat.
  • October 6: A 3-year-old boy died after being thrown from a side-by-side vehicle being driven by his father on a farm at Deddick.
  • October 7: A 57-year-old man died after his truck rolled over him while he was checking underneath it on the South Gippsland Highway near Bena.
  • October 29: A 50-year-old man died after being crushed by a machine at an electroplating business at Delacombe in Ballarat.
  • November 28: A 73-year-old man died from crush injuries he received when he was pinned against his vehicle inside an automatic car wash at Springvale on November 25.
  • November 30: A 37-year-old man died after he electrocuted when he contacted powerlines at a residential building site at St Leonards on November 25.
  • November 30: A 69-year-old man died after his was thrown from his vehicle when it rolled during land clearing works at Gelantipy in East Gippsland.
  • December 19: A 50-year-old man died after he was ejected from the cabin of his garbage truck when it was struck by a crane stabilising arm on a passing container truck at Epping.
  • December 22: A 44-year-old man died after the tractor he was driving rolled down a hill on a property at Hill End in West Gippsland.

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