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Is your equipment a risk to staff?

Injuries in the workplace are a tragic but very real part of working life, however some might be avoidable and preventable. Part of the solution is employees and employers understanding these risks and hazards, incorporating effective occupational health and safety inductions and training into the on-boarding process and embedding a good safety culture.

While health and safety training is an important start, recent statistics from Safe Work Australia* highlight the importance of addressing design concerns across a company's operations to avoid injuries.

Safe Work found that 36 per cent of all workplace fatalities came as the result of poorly designed equipment and machinery. This equates to roughly 188 fatalities of the 526 that were included as part of the study.

Among the most common deficiencies in worker safety, inadequate guard railing took the main spot, causing 21 per cent of the deaths in this study. Other major causes included a lack of roll-over protection and seatbelts (15 per cent) and failing to use a residual current device when working with electricity (12 per cent).

Michelle Baxter, CEO of Safe Work Australia, emphasised the importance of reducing the number of injuries that occur across the country.

"If we can eliminate hazards and risks during the design of new machinery and equipment or by including an aftermarket enhancement then we can reduce injuries and fatalities in the workplace," Ms Baxter stated.

"The findings in this report should act as a serious reminder to all employers and managers to re-evaluate the safety of the machinery they use."

While re-evaluating equipment is a good place to start for companies looking to improve the safety of staff, it is also important to provide relevant work health and safety training. This practical knowledge complements the proper installation and use of equipment and ensures employers and employees are taking steps to reduce the risks their staff face. 

*Safe Work Australia: Work-related fatalities associated with unsafe design of machinery, plant and powered tools, 2006-2011, November 10, 2014.

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