Bereaved workers, families at Industry Memorial call for better OHS laws

Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) members have joined bereaved relatives to remember workers who have died in manufacturing and construction accidents in Victoria.

The mourners were joined by work safety campaigners in marking International Workers’ Memorial Day last Thursday.

Workers killed in industrial accidents in the past twelve months were specifically mentioned at the event, which was held at the Victorian Trades Hall in Melbourne.

According to an AMWU health and safety representative, Wayne Mann, there have been 13 fatalities in Victorian workplaces this year alone.

“We’ve gone backwards in some ways. To think we’ve already lost so many lives this year…it shouldn’t be happening. Seeing relatives there today really brought it home,” he said.

Mann, who reportedly worked at the Ford Broadmeadows plant for a decade, said a poor attitude to workplace safety was still common in workplaces, despite more media and union attention to improve conditions. 

“There is a lot of complacency from the workers and above. People think they’ve done a job a 100 hundreds, and an accident won’t happen to them,” he said.

“Unfortunately many workers don’t raise safety concerns because they are afraid. They think they’ll be targeted for redundancy later on. So whilst things have got better in some ways, we’re still battling in other areas.“

The New South Wales Government has become the first to introduce Model Work Health and Safety Act legislation, which it hopes will be followed by other states shortly.

Harmonising Australian OHS laws has been in the pipeline for two years, with delegates hoping the move will minimise safety breaches.

Under the new laws, employers and workers can be penalised for unsafe behaviour. The new laws are also meant to give workers better tools to ensure safety is part of their daily routine.

Image: Workers at the Memorial day; image courtesy of AMWU.