Crackdown reveals thousands of safety breaches

There is room for improvement for businesses across the state after WorkSafe issued more than 2000 improvement notices as part of a crackdown on workplace health and safety breaches.
News article published

Friday 17 Jun 2011

Industries and topics
  • Health and safety representatives

Manual handling, damaged storage racking, unsafe scaffolding, inappropriate storage of dangerous goods, insufficient return to work plans for injured workers and poor forklift traffic management were among the issues identified during the campaign.

Over the past 12 months as part of the Safe Towns, Safer Work Zones campaign, WorkSafe inspectors visited small businesses in 13 regional and suburban areas which had a high injury rate or which had not been visited before.

Inspectors visited 1546 workplaces and issued 2118 improvement notices for health and safety and accident compensation breaches across the state.

Twenty-four prohibition notices were issued and an additional 171 breaches were able to be dealt with on the spot.

WorkSafe’s General Manager for Health and Safety, Lisa Sturzenegger, said the results were surprising.

“Considering the businesses were given notice and information on the campaign, the high number of businesses who failed to address health and safety risks is disappointing,” she said.

“It is important businesses change the way they think about what they might see as minor issues around the workplace.

“We’re not talking about large expenditure and complicated issues. Slips trips and falls and poor manual handling – often caused by inadequate lifting or carrying equipment -account for 60% of all injuries. “

Ms Sturzenegger said despite some disappointing results, there were some standout examples of workplaces meeting all of their health and safety obligations.

“It’s great to see businesses making health and safety a priority in their workplace,” she said.

“Other businesses took the visits as an opportunity to discuss any issues they may have with the inspectors or ways they can make their workplaces safer.

“Businesses are often so busy with their day-to-day operations, they welcome the opportunity to meet with WorkSafe inspectors.

“It is far more beneficial for everyone if employers and workers take the time to look for and fix safety issues as soon as they’re identified.”

Moorabbin received the highest number of notices issued in a suburb; inspectors visited 145 workplaces, issued 278 improvement notices and one prohibition notice for protective clothing for spraying equipment. Another 19 breaches identified were dealt with on the spot.

Bairnsdale topped the list for regional areas, with inspectors visiting 98 workplaces and issuing 264 improvement notices for health and safety breaches.

One workplace was issued with a prohibition notice relating to an unsafe scaffold and another 31 breaches were dealt with on the spot.

Safe Towns, Safer Work Zones campaigns involve a team of WorkSafe inspectors who visit an area over a one-week period to check on compliance with workplace health and safety.

WorkSafe’s specialist return-to-work inspectors also took part in the campaign. Their role was to check that workplaces have return to work information available and also have a return to work plan in place for injured workers.

Locations included Mansfield, Mildura, North Geelong, Camperdown and Cobden, Daylesford and Hepburn, Bairnsdale, Campbellfield, Preston, Clayton, Braeside, Melton, Moorabbin, Doveton and Hallam.

The 12-month campaign kicked off in Braeside in July last year and finished in Doveton and Hallam earlier this month.

Regional breakdown*

Location Visits Improvement notices issued Prohibition notices issued Fixed “on the spot”
Mansfield 62 101 2 17
Mildura 98 163 2 17
North Geelong 178 255 4 44
Camperdown and Cobden 60 68 1 19
Daylesford and Hepburn 47 31 0 9
Bairnsdale 98 264 1 31
Total 543 882 10 137

Suburban breakdown*

Location Visits Improvement notices issued Prohibition notices issued Fixed “on the spot”
Campbellfield 81 86 1 3
Preston 105 83 0 22
Clayton 159 233 3 31
Braeside 140 235 1 46
Melton 206 203 4 13
Moorabbin 145 278 1 19
Doveton and Hallam 147 118 4 34
Total 938 1236 14 168
Total overall 1546 2118 24 171

*Based on preliminary results.