SAFER ON SITE

In­juries in de­cline

The Advertiser - Careers - - Front Page - CARA JENKIN Ca­reerOne Edi­tor

WORK­PLACE safety is now on the im­prove in two of the nation’s most dan­ger­ous in­dus­tries.

The con­struc­tion and min­ing sec­tors each record a na­tional av­er­age of 86 in­juries for ev­ery 1000 work­ers em­ployed in the sec­tor. That is al­most 25 per cent higher than the rate for all work­ers of 69 in­juries for ev­ery 1000 work­ers.

The Safe Work Aus­tralia fig­ures show only agri­cul­ture, forestry and fish­ing, man­u­fac­tur­ing, trans­port and stor­age record more in­juries each year.

There has been a de­cline in the num­ber of in­jury claims made in both in­dus­tries in the past five years as com­pa­nies move to make work­places safer for staff.

The num­ber of se­ri­ous min­ing claims in South Aus­tralia has re­duced from 21.5 for ev­ery 1000 work­ers in 2003/04 to 11.3 for ev­ery 1000 work­ers in 2007/08.

Se­ri­ous claims in SA’s con­struc­tion in­dus­try have re­duced from 33.5 for ev­ery 1000 work­ers to 23.6 for ev­ery 1000 work­ers in the same pe­riod.

Safe Work Aus­tralia knowl­edge man­age­ment as­sis­tant di­rec­tor Amelia Huang says con­struc­tion is one of five in­dus­tries to re­ceive pri­or­ity at­ten­tion in the na­tional oc­cu­pa­tional health and safety strat­egy. ‘‘(Min­ing) only em­ploys about 1 per cent of the work­force. It has at­tracted at­ten­tion, how­ever, be­cause of the in­ci­dence rate of work­ers’ com­pen­sa­tion claims,’’ she says.

‘‘Con­struc­tion and min­ing are dan­ger­ous in­dus­tries be­cause of the in­her­ent na­ture of the work they are in­volved in, which en­tails work­ing in dan­ger­ous con­di­tions, like at heights, un­der­ground and us­ing heavy ma­chin­ery.’’

Min­ing and con­struc­tion re­cruit­ment firm WorkPac has 250,000 em­ploy­ees avail­able for long-term and short-term work across Aus­tralia.

Ade­laide busi­ness cen­tre man­ager Simon Ste­wart says work­place safety is a daily is­sue for work­ers, while an out­stand­ing safety record is linked to a busi­ness’s bot­tom line.

He says it cre­ated a seven-step safety process to min­imise the risks of in­jury to staff.

It has helped to en­sure no staff are killed at work and that the num­ber of hours lost to in­jury has re­duced by 50 per cent each year, he says.

‘‘We aim to look af­ter our peo­ple. They’re a valu­able re­source and if they are in­jured we want them to get the best care as quickly as pos­si­ble,’’ he says.

The seven steps in­clude keep­ing close tabs on worker qualifications and li­cences, per­form­ing reg­u­lar site checks, mak­ing safety tests and in­struc­tion part of the re­cruit­ment process and re­view­ing in­ci­dents to iden­tify is­sues.

‘‘There’s no magic bul­let but most ac­ci­dents are pre­ventable if you do the ba­sics and do them well,’’ Mr Ste­wart says.

Pic­ture: CHRIS MANGAN

WorkPac re­cruit­ment co-or­di­na­tor team leader Dale Tidswell kits out Tony Wild in high-vis­i­bil­ity safety gear.

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