The following article is a general news item provided for the benefit of members. Its contents do not necessarily reflect the views of the Safety Institute of Australia.
Thursday, 23 November, 2017 - 10:45
More workers die in the weeks leading up to Christmas than at any other time of year, according to WorkSafe Victoria statistics, which found that over the past decade, almost 25 per cent of all workplace fatalities occurred in November and December.
There was only one fatality in the November-December period last year – on 30 November – but in previous years the death toll had been horrendous, said WorkSafe Victoria executive director health and safety, Marnie Williams.
“While there was only one fatality in this period last year, in 2015 there were nine workplace deaths, and the year before that there were seven,” Williams said.
There were a number of reasons why this period was a dangerous time of year for workers.
“With Christmas just around the corner we know many employers and employees are rushing to meet deadlines and complete projects,” Williams said.
“In agriculture, the grain and hay harvests are in full swing, the construction sector is hard at work as builders, contractors and tradies push to complete projects before the Christmas shutdown, and the manufacturing sector is busy finalising last minute orders.
“We also know that many people are eagerly looking forward to their upcoming holidays and Christmas celebrations, so maybe they are getting distracted from the tasks at hand.
“That is why it is so important for everyone to put safety first, to take care and stay safe at work.”
It was important that employers and employees took the time to think about what needed to be done, and how it could be done as safely as possible, said Williams.
“For employers, this may mean factoring in a little extra time to do the job, or paying for extra resources and staff to get the job done safely,” she said.
“For workers, it may mean spending a little more time assessing each task before starting.
A WorkSafe public awareness campaign would begin shortly to raise awareness of the dangers associated with working at this time of year.