Workplace health and safety a worry for Victorians, with pre-Christmas danger period ahead

It seems Victoria is the ‘worry state’ when it comes to workplace health and safety, despite it having a lower rate of serious workplace injuries than other states.

The Australia’s Behaviour Concerns survey, sponsored by Sweeney Research and The Shannon Company, asked over 2000 Australians what worried them the most. Launching today, the survey found 42% of Victorians were extremely concerned about injuring themselves at work, compared to 33% of people in NSW. This is despite Victoria having fewer incidents of serious injuries in the workplace according to Safe Work Australia.

Ian Forsyth, managing partner at The Shannon Company and the former deputy chief executive at WorkSafe until July this year, says these findings show how effective Victoria’s workplace safety campaigns have been.

“It’s a huge thumbs-up to the public awareness campaigns,” he says. “There is no doubt Victoria has got the safest workplaces in the country. There is a huge awareness of workplace health and safety here – far bigger than in New South Wales.”

Forsyth says 77% of men in Victoria aged 16-34 are aware of advertising and information about safety in the workplace. However, in NSW that figure drops to less than half.

“You have got safer workplaces in Victoria, therefore that awareness is at the top of their minds as opposed to the back. To me, if you’re concerned about the issue you are aware of it. If people were concerned about it but the incident rate was high, that would be a different story.”

Forsyth says Victorians’ concerns are not out of proportion despite the state’s strong track record.

“I see it as being a really positive thing. It means workplace issues are in people’s minds. It’s where you want to be.”

WorkSafe recently launched a campaign urging Victorians to be safer at work as the festive season draws near. This is because November and December are the most dangerous times of the year for workers.

WorkSafe chief executive Denise Cosgrove said workers can get distracted towards the end of the year, meaning safety becomes less of a priority.

“Many fatalities at this time of year involve experienced workers doing routine tasks,” he said. “This suggests their minds may not be fully on the task at hand. Together it all adds up to a dangerous mix. We want the festive season to be a happy time for everyone. So please take care.”

Last year seven people died in Victoria between November and December due to work-related injuries, according to WorkSafe more than double the number of fatalities during any other two-month period.

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