Sunday, February 22, 2009


Workplace conditions like those in industrial revolution

20 February 2009 Content provided to you by AAP.

By Jeff Turnbull, MELBOURNE, Feb 19 AAP -

Australian workers are being exposed to conditions that have not improved since the industrial revolution, a workplace chief said on Thursday.

His comments come after two men suffered horrific injuries while carrying out routine maintenance work on a press.One man lost his hand while the other suffered a badly crushed hand.

The accident happened in the early hours of Thursday as they carried out maintenance work on a press at a Tullamarine factory.WorkSafe Victoria, which is investigating the accident, said the machine started up, trapping their hands, around 1.30am (AEDT).

The accidents came one day after an 18-year-old man died when he was caught up in a press at a cardboard factory in Thomastown.There have been four workplace deaths in the state so far this year, including that of firefighter David Balfour when a tree fell on him near Marysville earlier this week.

WorkSafe Victoria executive director John Merritt said the accidents reinforced his concern that many employers and workers had much more to do to create safer workplaces.

"The reality is that in too many Victorian workplaces, workers are still exposed to the things that were killing and maiming people at the start of the industrial revolution," Mr Merritt said.

"Unguarded machines along with inadequate training, poor supervision and dangerous work practices lead to many amputations, crushings and other serious injuries and deaths each year."

He said the obligations on employers and workers under Victoria's health and safety laws are clear and waiting until someone was hurt before safety problems are fixed was not an option.

He said people were falling into unguarded machines - something that occurred in 1809 and is still happening in 2009.

"In some ways it is worse because today's machines are bigger, faster and stronger," Mr Merritt said.

A workplace safety conference will be held in Melbourne in March.It will show that one in three supervisors say their senior management are not serious about safety while nine per cent say their bosses are "in denial", Mr Merritt said.

WorkSafe Victoria said 22 people died in Victorian businesses last year while another 30,000 were injured.

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