Alarming new statistics indicate that workplace health and safety is a serious issue that warrants attention in Victoria and Oz in general.
Recently the Victorian WorkCover Authority released its half year statistics which indicated a noticeable decrease in profit from insurance operations mostly due to a spike in work compensation claims.
Last year during the same period the results recorded a profit of $118 million whereas this year the profit was recorded as considerably less at $13 million.
While the WorkCover authority has highlighted the decrease in profits, it is important to understand that the human cost is even greater. Many workers were injured, some seriously which no doubt impacted their way and quality of life, their income, their families and ultimately negatively impacted the community and the economy. This is one of the reasons why the appropriate safety training is an issue of such dire importance, especially in industries such as construction, transport, mining etc.
This article from SafetyCulture.com.au explains more:
The authority’s new chief executive, Denise Cosgrove, said the major reason for the reversal was a spike in common law claims that added about $150 million to liabilities for the half year.
The rise in common law claims has meant that the authority has been required to top up its funding pool by about $11 million.
Ms Cosgrove said the authority’s five-year targets for 2017, such as a 10 per cent to 15 per cent reduction in claims per million hours worked, would stay in place but admitted it was challenging.
“They are pretty aspirational,” she said, adding that the improvement in the safety rate equated to up to 4800 fewer workers getting injured in a year. She said the authority would look to work closely with business to achieve the goals.
Some in the sector believe WorkCover has taken a conservative approach to prosecutions, but Ms Cosgrove said a balance had to be struck.
According to the chief executive education, guidance, inspections and behavioural change campaigns are crucial in getting the message of safety across. She also went on to explain that employers who fail to protect their workers will face prosecution. This includes workers who fail to provide the adequate safety training to workers. It is no use implementing safety measures if staff are not trained on these measures and are therefore unaware of them and unable to overcome them.
Some of the major issues identified by the organisation were poor manual handling and slips, trips and falls.
15,000 Vic workers suffer from musculoskeletal injuries from slips, trips and falls as well as poor lifting and lowering techniques each year.
Another major problem is dangerous machines which injure a large number of workers on sites across various industries. Cosgrove goes on to explain that machines needn’t be dangerous if workers are appropriately trained and adequate safety procedures are put in place.
Another issue the organisation is taking extremely seriously is that of bullying.