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Still the deadliest job

May 4, 2017

Safe Work Australia has updated its workplace fatality figures for 2017 (1 January – 26 April). Sadly, as at 26 April, 51 Australian workers have been killed at work.

While the overall number is two fewer than the same period last year, the number of fatalities associated with this industry (transport, postal and warehousing) is 19 – two more than this time in 2016.

The construction industry, also considered a dangerous sector for workers, has recorded 11 worker deaths over the same period, up three from last year.

However, the number of fatalities associated with the agriculture, forestry and fishing industry has decreased from 17 last year to 11 so far in 2017. A large campaign around quad bike safety – including government-subsidised training and education, engineering solutions – is hopefully paying dividends and is perhaps reflected in these figures.

More accurate information will be known once the appropriate authority has investigated the deaths as the figures listed in the following table are based on initial media reports and are a preliminary estimate of the number of people killed while working.

Once the information has been verified, the information is used by Safe Work Australia in its annual Work-related Traumatic Injury Fatalities report, which includes finalised work-related fatalities from 2003 onwards.

The figures don’t include workers who died of natural causes while at work.

Industry of workplace Total deaths 2016 Deaths 1 Jan 2016 to 26 April 2016 Deaths 1 Jan 2017 to 26 April 2017
Transport, postal & warehousing 64 17 19
Agriculture, forestry & fishing 41 17 11
Construction 30 6 9
Arts & recreation services 8 2 3
Electricity, gas, water & waste services 7 3 3
Mining 7 0 2
Other services 4 2 0
Administrative & support services 3 0 0
Manufacturing 3 0 1
Public administration & safety 3 1 1
Information media & telecommunications 2 2 0
Accommodation & food services 1 1 1
Education & training 1 0 0
Health care & social assistance 1 1 0
Professional, scientific & technical services 1 1 0
Retail trade 1 0 1
Wholesale trade 1 0 0
Government administration & defence 0 0 0
Financial & insurance services 0 0 0
Total worker deaths 178 53 51

While it is widely acknowledged that driving a heavy vehicle is one of the most dangerous jobs in this country, an increase in fatalities in this sector is obviously disappointing. Fatality figures captured in the sector are not only restricted to vehicle crashes (regardless of who was at fault), they include deaths caused during loading and unloading of vehicles, falls from vehicles, pedestrian deaths after being hit by vehicles (including forklifts), and more.

Chain of Responsibility (CoR) laws have been created to help make the heavy vehicle transport and logistics industry safer (and to make the roads safer for all users).

As the laws move to align themselves closer to current health and safety legislation, it is important that business-owners and operators understand their roles in keeping the workplace safe.

The best place to find the ‘rules’ that apply to you and your business – and have them explained in plain English that’s easy to understand – is the CoR Adviser.

This monthly newsletter, written by the transport experts at Holding Redlich, delivers all the information you need in a timely and concise format. Remember, most of the CoR information you need to read about won’t be found in the mainstream media.

Subscribe today to CoR Adviser and ensure you are meeting your obligations under the Heavy Vehicle National Law, regardless of where you sit in the supply chain.