Australia: WorkSafe targets Melbourne retailers

WorkSafe’s inspectors are targeting retail and hospitality outlets in Melbourne’s central business district this month.

Retail businesses and restaurants, cafes and bars will be inspected to check that employers are meeting their return to work obligations for injured workers.

The visits in Melbourne will run over two weeks, from January 19 to 30.

Over the past five years, a total of 12,013 workers were injured in the City of Melbourne, with treatment and rehabilitation costs exceeding $170 million.

The retail and hospitality industries accounted for more than 1,400 of these injuries and nearly $22 million in treatment and rehabilitation.

Musculoskeletal injuries, also known as sprains and strains, were the most common injuries experienced.

WorkSafe’s Len Boehm said the management of return to work obligations was often juggled among a range of business needs.

“Helping injured workers return to work in a safe and sustainable way can be a complex process,” Boehm said.

“However, while it’s currently peak time for retail and hospitality trading, an employer cannot ignore their responsibilities. Getting on top of these obligations now should mean there are fewer problems for the inspectors to deal with.”

Boehm said that with many businesses having hired additional workers for the summer trading period, young workers were often at risk as they are less experienced and less likely to ask questions about returning to work and about their safety.

More than 1,000 young workers have been hurt at work in the City of Melbourne in the past five years.

Inspectors will be checking on a range of matters including the existence of: an injury register, an occupational rehabilitation program if the employer has an injured worker, a risk management program, and a Return to Work Coordinator, whose role is to assist an injured worker to remain at or return to work as soon as possible after injury.

Inspectors will also be checking that information about what to do if a worker is injured is clearly displayed in the workplace.

“The inspectors’ primary role is to help business operators, but where they are not addressing return to work issues and meeting their obligations, they will suffer the consequences, including the potential for prosecution,” Boehm said.

WorkSafe has previously conducted similar campaigns in Ringwood, Geelong and Werribee.


One Response

  1. I was going to get on my high horse about over regulation in Australia… but then I stopped and considered my early jobs and the lack interest employers showed to workplace injuries – both mine and others. So good on the inspectors and the system for looking after an element of the workforce that in many case really doesn’t understand their entitlements.

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