Workplace deaths rise in 2017

Picture: PENNY STEPHENS
Picture: PENNY STEPHENS

Twenty-seven people died in workplace incidents in Victoria in 2017, including four people in central Victoria.

Last year marked the highest number of lives lost in the workplace since 2009, and the highest number of farm fatalities since 2004.

Among the people who died in the workplace last year was 48-year-old track rider Donna Philpot, who was killed in a fall while doing track work at the Bendigo racecourse in June.

A 55-year-old man was killed in August when he was crushed by a bull at Bamawm, near Lockington, a 69-year-old man died at Hesket, near Woodend, in September when his quad bike rolled, and a 59-year-old man was crushed while loading machinery into a shipping container at Leitchville in December.

Of the 27 deaths in Victoria, 20 occurred in regional areas.

“This toll is more than a statistic,” WorkSafe’s head of operations and emergency management Adam Watson said.

“It represents families and friendship circles missing loved ones, workplaces devastated by the death of a colleague, and local communities left with a gap that can never be filled.”

"Employers and workers need to focus on how they can contribute to making their workplace safer.”

Mr Watson said the failure to identify and properly manage hazards was a theme among the workplace deaths, especially on farms and where vehicles were involved.

Older workers are over-represented in the statistics.

"Many of those who died were doing tasks they have done many times before, so it is important that everyone takes the time to plan their day with safety in mind,” Mr Watson said.