Tragic reminder of the dangers of working alongside heavy vehicles

Date: Mar 07, 2013

A recent incident in which a worker at a NSW grain storage facility died after being struck by a reversing front-end loader has provided a reminder of the risks inherent in many workplaces.

The incident, which happened at premises located near Wee Waa brought the total number of workers killed in vehicle-related accidents in the state to four in the last eight months, according to WorkCover NSW.

John Watson, WordCover’s work health and safety division general manager, told Narromine News this week (March 6) that this latest incident was a tragic reminder of the dangers of working around heavy equipment and vehicles.

“Work involving mobile plant is high risk and can be catastrophic if safe work systems are not in place to ensure the safety of everyone in close proximity,” said Mr Watson.

The responsibility to be safe in the workplace falls to both employers and employees, and WorkSafe Australia provides advice through its website for all members of a business about how they can contribute to a safer work environment.

It advises that the person conducting a business or undertaking has the primary duty to ensure employees are not exposed to risks to their health and safety.

Nonetheless, there are resources for employers and employees alike to improve their risk management practice.

“Over the last five years ten workers have been killed and 2,089 workers injured at [a] cost of about $39 million to the NSW Workers Compensation System,” Mr Watson said.

Anyone injured at their workplace in NSW can talk to personal injury lawyers, some of which operate on a no win no fee basis.

That means they can provide a free face-to-face or over-the-phone to discuss the circumstances of the event which resulted in the injury and whether the injured party may be entitled to workers compensation.

Such compensation could help to pay for the medical expenses of treatment and rehabilitation for catastrophic injury, as well as to make up for the loss of income experienced while recuperating.

The sobering thought is that those who are injured in workplace accidents could in many cases have suffered a worse fate, and Mr Watson says that the continued occurrence of workplace fatalities is evidence that there is still more to be done to improve safety measures.

“Four workers dying after being hit by moving vehicles in just over six months is too many and we’re issuing an urgent plea to all workers and business that use mobile plant to review their procedures, to ensure another tragic accident is prevented.”

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