'Tis the season to slow down and stay safe amid the rush
WorkSafe is reminding employers and workers to prioritise safety as the end of the year approaches.
Published:13 December 2023
The festive season often brings with it a sense of urgency, from Christmas deadlines on construction projects and bustling retailers and warehouses, to booked out hospitality venues and a demanding harvest season.
However, a busy year-end shouldn't also make for a dangerous one. From 2018 to 2022, a total of 57 people lost their lives and 19,570 injury claims were accepted by WorkSafe in the final two months of the year. Tragically, another eight people have died in workplace incidents since the start of November this year.
WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Narelle Beer said every death and injury could have been prevented if the right safety practices were followed.
"We're all familiar with the hustle and bustle of this time of year, but it's crucial employers ensure safety measures are in place and that no one is taking shortcuts," Dr Beer said.
"As the festive season approaches, remember that the greatest gift you can give to your family and friends is staying safe and healthy."
Dr Beer said the hectic time of year also often saw workers facing more unacceptable behaviours such as occupational violence and aggression, particularly in the retail and hospitality sectors.
"Employers should have systems in place to identify and control any health and safety risks, both physical and mental, that may result from a surge in customer demand," she said.
"It is also important that any new workers – some of whom may be experiencing their first job – are adequately trained to perform tasks safely, and are made aware of their rights to a safe workplace."
WorkSafe inspectors visiting construction sites over coming weeks will be ensuring builders and contractors are not attempting to cut corners as they prepare for the break.
"It's far better to safely secure a construction site over the holiday period than it is to rush a job – and potentially risk lives – to meet a deadline," Dr Beer said.
"A site left unsecured, especially over the break, poses a serious risk to members of the public. Employers must ensure a thorough clean-up and safety check has been completed before a shutdown."
This should include, but is not limited to, turning off the power and securing the switchboard, ensuring suitable fencing is in place that cannot be blown over, and clearing away unwanted construction materials and debris.