Although the annual toll was one less than in 2018, when 25 workers died as a result of workplace incidents, WorkSafe Victoria chief executive Colin Radford underlined that a single workplace death “was one too many”.
“These are not numbers, these are people — fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, siblings, colleagues, team mates and community members,” Mr Radford said.
“Out of respect for those we have lost and their families, it is time we said enough. It is time to take strong and decisive action.
“There is simply no excuse for cutting corners when it comes to workplace safety.”
Mr Radford said a failure to properly address major safety risks was a common reason for many of the horrific but preventable incidents.
According to WorkSafe data, nine of the fatalities from 2019 involved some form of moving machinery or heavy vehicle.
“The risks associated with moving machinery such as tractors, headers, trucks, mobile cranes and scissor lifts are well known, so there is simply no excuse for ignoring them,” Mr Radford said.
“All employers must take time to properly assess workplace health and safety risks and plan how to eliminate or manage them, because failing to do so can be fatal.”
There were six deaths on farms in 2019, making them once again the most dangerous workplaces in the state. Another five deaths occurred on constructions sites.
“Every year, the same industries feature prominently in workplace deaths, which is not good enough,” Mr Radford said.
“From July, new workplace manslaughter laws will come into force. So, employers are on notice to take their health and safety obligations seriously or risk jail if your negligence causes a workers death.
“If you show a reckless indifference to human life, you will face the full force of these new laws.”
An uncompromising media campaign warning employers of the tough financial penalties and jail terms they face under the new workplace manslaughter laws was launched this week.