New South Wales led the charge in terms of work-related fatalities in January, as it accounted for a third of all incidents over the course of the month.
Safe Work Australia’s Notifiable Fatalities January 2015 Monthly Report showed 12 male workers were killed throughout the country over the course of the month, with four of them in New South Wales.
There were a total of 17 work-related notifiable fatalities in January, the remainder of which involved two female and two male bystanders. The majority were a result of a vehicle incident on a public road crash, while others were either hit by a falling object or fell from a height.
On a national basis, two workers were killed in the transport, postal and warehousing industry, while a further two lost their lives while working in agriculture, forestry and fishing. Manufacturing and other services also topped the list.
The mining industry only recorded one fatality in January, as did administrative services, construction and scientific and technical industries.
Focus on the manufacturing sector
Safe Work Australia recently focused more heavily on the manufacturing sector to encourage better workplace safety standards. A report from the group found that these workers are more likely to be exposed to noise, vibration and airborne hazards than many other industries.
Of the employees who were regularly exposed to noise polled, more than 70 per cent revealed they had been provided with personal protective equipment (PPE) for not only this hazard, but various others. For those suffering from vibration, more than 30 per cent said they have only been given PPE and no other control measure.
Failing to provide the necessary safety measures can put employers at serious risk of workers filing compensation claims.
Nearly 40 per cent of the workers questioned said they are regularly exposed to chemicals, including the likes of coolants, paint, hydraulic oil and solvents. The two least common hazards cited by workers were wet work and biological materials.
Facing workers’ compensation claims
It is not uncommon for workers to file claims against their employer for injuries that occur while on the job – and their families can pursue legal action in the event of a fatality.
Safe Work Australia’s National Data Set for Compensation-based Statistics shows that in 2011-12, a total of 120,155 compensation claims were accepted for either serious injury or disease. Men were responsible for 64 per cent of these claims.
During the year in question, the highest incidence rate of serious claims by industry was in the agriculture, forestry & fishing sector, which recorded 21.3 serious claims per 1,000 employees. This is almost double the national rate of 11.4.