Not enough W Australia Worksafe officers to make work safe – vacancies a risk to workers: Greens

Worksafe vacancies a risk to workers: Greens

4 October 2012

The Greens have warned of the risk of an increase in workplace accidents if the number of vacancies of Workplace Inspectors at Worksafe is not urgently addressed.

The warning came following revelations at Parliamentary Estimates that during the last year the Department of Worksafe has seen a dramatic drop in the number of investigations undertaken, workplace visits, and the issuing of Improvement and Prohibition Notices.

“During questioning at Estimates the Department admitted that the significant decrease in activity was as a direct result of the chronic understaffing of the agency,” said Alison Xamon, Greens spokesperson on Occupational Health and Safety.

“Although there is scope for 103 FTE to be filled Worksafe has had a consistent problem with filling these positions, being up to 20% understaffed for their Workplace Inspectors.

“Worksafe claim that this is as a result of the difficulties in attracting appropriately qualified Inspectors as they are competing against mining industry wages and conditions. Although I accept that this is more than likely, it highlights the necessity for Government to urgently pursue more attractive remuneration packages for Inspectors in order to remedy the situation.

“The reality is, Worksafe is one of the most important Departments of Government, with the critical role of ensuring that our workplaces are safe, and that workers return home at the end of the day safe and well. The fact that this situation has been allowed to drag on for so long, and that we are now seeing a dramatic decrease in front line services is a sad indictment on this Government and its failure to prioritise worker safety.

“The capacity for Worksafe Inspectors to respond to reports of dangerous worksites in a timely manner, as well as to undertake pro-active inspections of sites should not be underestimated. Bearing in mind that in the years 2010/11 Worksafe reported an 11 year high in the frequency of severe injuries in WA workplaces. Worksafe Inspectors are a critical part of an Occupational health and Safety culture, educating workplaces about safe work practice and penalising those employers who do the wrong thing and put their workers at risk.

“If anything, we should be looking to increase the overall FTE number of Inspectors to try to arrest the alarming trend of increased injury, not be complacent about filling existing vacancies.”

Hon Alison Xamon MLC

Member for the East Metropolitan Region

Office: 62 Eighth Ave Maylands WA 6051

Postal Address: PO Box 104 Maylands WA 6931

Phone: (08) 9272 1718

Fax: (08) 9272 1719

Portfolios: Water, Urban Bushland, Mental Health, Education, Training, Industrial Relations, Employment, Occupational Health & Safety, Disabilities, Women, Children & Youth, Public Service, Community Services,Electoral Affairs, Consumer Protection, Vet Affairs, Volunteering

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