There are new calls for stronger laws to protect Gold Coast workers after it was revealed 1 in 5 Australians know someone who’s been killed at work.
The alarming numbers were revealed in a national survey by the Australian Council of Trade Unions on Monday.
According to the survey, nearly 20 percent of respondents said they knew someone killed at work, or who had died as a result of a work-related disease from a variety of work sectors such as nursing, postal, maritime and construction.
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Around half also report being exposed to a traumatic event, abuse, threatening behaviour or assaults in the workplace, while 4 in 5 said they had experienced some form of injury or illness as a result of their job.
Unions are now calling for the introduction of nationally uniform laws to hold company directors criminally liable for “deliberate or negligent breaches of safety” that lead to the deaths of employees.
“Everyone has the right to know they will be safe at work each day, but tragically this is not the reality,” ACTU Assistant Secretary, Liam O’Brien said.
Mr O’Brien said that so far this year, 77 people have been killed at work.
“It is shocking that one in five people know someone who has died at work. Work shouldn’t hurt, let alone kill a single working person,” he said.
According to the Union, employers who are responsible for someone’s death will simply cop a fine.
“Currently employers who are responsible for someone’s death will face a fine at most, and many of them can write this off on their insurance,” they said.
“This is deeply insulting to the 4000 people who have died at work since 2003 and all of the tens of thousands of people traumatised as a result of their deaths – their families, partners, friends and workmates.”
Mr O’Brien said bosses who cut corners and kill a worker should face serious jail time.
“We are losing hundreds of people to preventable deaths in the workplace and thousands to preventable workplace illnesses every year. It has to stop,” he said.
“We need better rights for workers and their representatives to enforce safety.”