WorkSafe Victoria is pleading with employers and workers to take a step back and focus on safety as they say the state is entering a traditionally dangerous time of year.
According to WorkSafe statistics show more Victorian workers die in the weeks leading up to Christmas than at any other time of year. Over the past decade, almost 25% of all workplace fatalities occurred in November and December.
WorkSafe executive director Health and Safety, Marnie Williams, said there was only one fatality in the November-December period last year – on 30 November – but in previous years the death toll had been horrendous.
"While there was only one fatality in this period last year, in 2015 there were nine workplace deaths, and the year before that there were seven," Williams said.
"One death is still one too many. It is horrifying to think that over the past decade 50 workers have died in the lead-up to Christmas."
Williams suggests there are a number of reasons why this period was a dangerous time of year for workers.
"With Christmas just around the corner we know many employers and employees are rushing to meet deadlines and complete projects," Ms Williams said.
"In agriculture, the grain and hay harvests are in full swing, the construction sector is hard at work as builders, contractors and tradies push to complete projects before the Christmas shutdown, and the manufacturing sector is busy finalising last minute orders.
"We also know that many people are eagerly looking forward to their upcoming holidays and Christmas celebrations, so maybe they are getting distracted from the tasks at hand.
"That is why it is so important for everyone to put safety first, to take care and stay safe at work."
In the past week, a young worker has died and two other young workers have been seriously injured in workplace incidents. Earlier this week, a gardener in his late 20s died when he was stung by bees at a property in Dunkeld and last week, a 22-year old man was injured when he fell almost three metres from an unprotected balcony onto a concrete floor at Altona. A 21-year-old man suffered serious head injuries when he fell three metres down an unprotected open stair void at Edithvale. Williams said it was important that employers and employees took the time to think about what needed to be done, and how it could be done as safely as possible.
"For employers, this may mean factoring in a little extra time to do the job, or paying for extra resources and staff to get the job done safely," Williams said. "For workers, it may mean spending a little more time assessing each task before starting. The cost of rushing or taking shortcuts could be someone's life."
Williams said a WorkSafe Victoria public awareness campaign would begin shortly to raise awareness of the dangers associated with working at this time of year.
"It is simply horrific to think that while Victorian families are preparing for their Christmas break, summer holidays and special time with family, the statistics suggest that, in the weeks ahead, some families will instead be mourning the loss of a loved one at work.
"Please focus on safety in your workplace and make sure everyone gets home safely, and gets to enjoy Christmas with there loved ones."