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Health and safety survey shows national action should follow Qld lead

A national survey on workplace health and safety released today shows widespread worker support for national legislation similar to Queensland’s industrial manslaughter laws.
The national survey of more than 26,000 working people responded to questions about their experiences of work health and safety, including the sorts of working conditions they had faced in the past 12 months.
The ACTU study in July revealed concerning statistics that nearly 80 percent of working people have been injured, or become ill, or both as a result of their work.
And more than nine out of ten workers surveyed supported jail time for bosses whose negligence led to workplace deaths.
The “Work Shouldn’t Hurt” survey exposes an underbelly of unsafe work practices that has led to unacceptable numbers of working people dying as a result of their work, being exposed to trauma, experiencing violence, or sustaining psychological/physical illnesses and injuries.
Key findings include:
• 78% of respondents had been physically or psychologically injured or ill as a result of their work;
• 78% of respondents knew someone who had been seriously injured or ill as a result of their work;
• 16% of respondents knew someone who was killed at work, or died from a work-related disease;
• 31% of respondents had experienced occupational violence (abuse, threats, or assault at work by clients, customers, the public, or co-workers).
• 61% said they has experienced poor mental health because their employer or workplace had failed to manage of address these poor work conditions;
• 55% said they were aware of existing conditions in their workplace that could cause serious injury or illness if not addressed.
• 91% said employers or companies who cause the death of a worker through gross negligence should face serious jail time (up to 20 years);
• 98% of respondents said they believed unions had a role in work health and safety.
Further coordinated national action is desperately needed as Australia’s workplace death toll for the calendar year 2019 stands at 83 fatalities as at 1 August 2019.
In 2018, the federal Coalition commissioned a report into model work health and safety legislation resulting in the Boland review, which made 34 recommendations to strengthen laws.
The Boland Review recommended that the offence of industrial manslaughter be included in the model laws, following the lead of Queensland and the ACT.
The ACTU has today again called on the federal Government to act and implement all recommendations across all states and territories.
Queensland’s Labor Government in 2017 was the first state to introduce industrial manslaughter laws. Bosses and corporations who kill workers by operating unsafe workplaces are now held accountable with significant gaol sentences and fines.
We need a strong commitment from the Morrison Government and other states and territories to prevent all workplace deaths and end all forms of workplace injuries, including the increasing level of psychosocial injuries.
We need better rights for workers’ representatives to enforce safety so that no one is hurt at work. Work shouldn’t hurt.
A fundamental union-won right we all have is to go to work and come home at the end of our day alive and safe.
– Michael Clifford, Acting QCU General Secretary