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  4. » UNIONS CELEBRATE 'WORKERS MEMORIAL DAY'

UNIONS CELEBRATE 'WORKERS MEMORIAL DAY'

‘Workers Memorial Day’is celebrated throughout the international trade union movement by workers, their families and the community to remember not only those who have been killed at work but to fight for the living. The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) chooses a theme annually and in 2012 that theme is ‘Unions Make Workplaces Safer’.

Today’s international celebration of ‘Workers Memorial Day’ has been celebrated by Northern Territory unions by recognising how effective their actions have been in securing new workplace health and safety and workers’ compensation laws in the NT over the past year, recognition of 8 more recent tragic work-related deaths the costs of those deaths to families, business and the community and the need to significantly improve work place safety in the NT.

In an address to workers including local union organisers, officials and staff (speech attached), Unions NT Secretary Adam Lampe acknowledged the potential for the new NT laws to improve safety performance and the 8 lost lives in the NT due to work related accidents for the period 2009/10. The impact of those avoidable fatalities on families, industry and the NT community is immeasurable in terms of lost opportunity, hopes and future aspirations.  The financial costs of work-related injury disease and fatality to families, the community and business are also under-estimated.

Mr Lampe cited Access Economics 2005/6 estimates that work related injury, disease and fatalities cost the nation $34 billion annually. Those figures include 300 work-related deaths and 140,000 recorded injuries annually. Northern Territory industry’s share of those costs in 2009/10 alone was $94 million which disguises the more accurate costs of workplace injury of approximately $190 million annually.

3100 NT workers compensation claims may equate to $94 million in 2009/10 but what needs to be added to those costs are the injuries that go unreported and do not result in workers’ compensation claims. These include the injuries that are treated by GPs and hospital emergency areas that result in the use of sick leave, holidays, recreation and other forms of leave and the fact that up to 9000 NT ABN workers do not have access to employer funded workers’ compensation insurance premiums or benefits. ‘The real cost of NT work-related injury, disease and fatality is appalling’, said Mr Lampe.

 

‘Of all Australian jurisdictions the NT has by far the worst work-related fatality and injury rates per 100,000 employees according to Safework Australia’s most recent ‘Source: Safework Australia Work- Related Traumatic Injury Fatalities Australia 2009-2010. The only year where the NT recorded no compensable work-related fatalities was 2002/03. Each and every one of those work-related deaths was preventable.

The Northern Territory recorded 6.4 deaths per 100 000 workers, the highest of all the states and territories. The Northern Territory has recorded the highest fatality rate of all states and territories in all the years of the series except 2006–07.

Territory union efforts to improve work place safety over the past 12 months have included

·         over 90 members receiving Certificate IV OHS qualifications and a further 80 proposed during 2012;

·         the election and training of close to 100 additional workplace Health and Safety Representatives;

·         the production of updated HSR Pocketbook guides for workers

·         presentations to hundreds of NT employers and staff in the public and private sectors

·         the advocacy and passage of new health and safety and workers compensation legislation in the NT

 

For further information contact Mark Crossin at Unions NT on 8941 0001 or 0404 028 514

Published: 27 Apr 2012

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