Stronger measures are urgently needed to prevent further deaths in Australian workplaces, the Electrical Trades Union has warned ahead of International Workers’ Memorial Day events today.
The memorial — which remembers those killed at work and emphasises the need to improve safety — will highlight the deaths of 46 Australian workers since the start of this year, along with a further 184 victims of workplace fatalities from 2014.
“The number of workplace deaths in Australia is quite simply unacceptable,” ETU National Secretary Allen Hicks said.
“All workers have a right to go to work in the morning confident that they won’t be injured or killed.
“Their families should be able to feel confident that their loved ones will return home safe.
“Every workplace death is preventable, and each one represents the loss of a parent, a child, a friend and a workmate.”
The union also warned that proposed changes to national workplace safety legislation threatened to erode protections against workplace incidents, placing ordinary working Australians at greater risk of a workplace fatality.
A detailed report by the McKell Institute into the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Bill, which is due to be debated by the Senate in the coming months, found it would result in workplace inspections by safety regulators plummeting.
“The proposal to move Australian workers to an unfair and unsafe national scheme only serves to endanger lives and must be put aside,” Mr Hicks said.
“Any national safety and insurance scheme must hold employers truly accountable when it comes to safety standards. Lives are at stake here.”
Mr Hicks voiced support for the ACTU’s call to hold company directors personally liable for the deaths of workers on their payrolls.
Currently directors are able to restructure their businesses to avoid liability for workplace deaths.
“We need laws to make sure that negligent companies and directors can’t escape responsibility for the awful effects their actions have on workers and their families,” Mr Hicks said.
Further information: Lachlan Williams — 0404 522 855