Small businesses targeted in safety crackdown

A CRACKDOWN on workplace safety rolled out through Traralgon last week, as WorkSafe Victoria made surprise inspections on small businesses across the town.

Speaking to The Express after the second day of the campaign, WorkSafe acting group leader for Traralgon Phil Maskrey said they were targeting small business as it was a sector in which safety was often overlooked.

“A lot of these sites we are looking at have never been visited before, and unfortunately with a lot of small businesses, some are keeping their heads down to make ends meet, and safety sometimes gets forgotten,” Mr Maskrey said.

A team of WorkSafe inspectors aimed to make about 100 unannounced inspections of Traralgon businesses, with up to 20 employees, over the course of the week.

As of Tuesday evening, the campaign was issuing an average of 2.4 to 2.6 notices per workplace, with out of date fire extinguishers being the most common infringement.

According to WorkSafe statistics,1948 injuries were reported from the Latrobe region over the past five financial years, which extends from Dandenong to the eastern Victorian border, with treatment and rehabilitation costs exceeding $46 million.

WorkSafe general manager for operations Lisa Sturzenegger said businesses inspected were often aware of a safety issue, but had failed to fix them.

“These are basic issues that should have been attended to before WorkSafe’s intervention. Don’t wait for us to arrive before changes are made or wait for an incident to happen; make safety a priority,” Ms Sturzenegger said.

After being involved with WorkSafe for 12 years, Mr Maskrey said while he had definitely seen a greater awareness in workplace safety, diligence was required.

“It’s just not good enough to say ‘I did an inspection three weeks ago’, as a workplace we should constantly be keeping eye out for potential risks.”