Injury claims cost millions

ALMOST 300 Latrobe Valley construction workers have been injured badly enough over the past five years to make a compensation claim, costing more than $24 million in related expenses.

WorkSafe Victoria released the damning figures today as it launched a new statewide safety initiative aimed at “tradies”.

The 298 local injuries resulted in claims costing $24 million in treatment, wages and other expenses.

WorkSafe inspector for the Latrobe Valley region Steve Thornley said, on average, there were 200 health and safety breaches found on local construction sites every year.

Mr Thornley said most construction site injuries were caused by “poor planning, poor site housekeeping and a lack of supervision”.

Speaking to The Express on Friday, he said past years had seen numerous Latrobe Valley construction sites shut down due to safety breaches while most site inspections by WorkSafe resulted in infringement notices being issued.

“Definitely the majority of injuries are caused by slips, trips and falls,” he said.

“Often what results is muscular skeletal disorders… and a lot is to do with poor housekeeping, messy sites, slippery mud and rubbish everywhere.”

“On top of that there are lots of falls from roofs and into stairwell voids as well as electrical shocks from damaged equipment, leads on the ground running through water, people being struck by mobile plant (equipment).”

Mr Thornley said injuries ranged from “the scratches and bruises we don’t often hear about, all the way through to fatalities.”

“But of those who put claims in, what people don’t see is that the injury affects them at home too – they are often in constant pain, they can’t lift or play with their kids, their relationships are affected, there is emotional stress, financial hardship and this is all because someone took a shortcut on safety,” he said.

The average cost of a WorkCover compensation claim, statewide, was $52,000, Mr Thornley said.

“Doctors are not cheap and you don’t have to be off work too long for that to add up, it just takes a few operations and follow-up rehab.”

He said injury incidences had been “pretty steady” over the past five years.

Keen to see them reduced, WorkSafe chief executive Denise Cosgrove said the statistics were released to draw attention to the launch of Top Tradie Cup, an initiative “designed to get tradies and others in the construction industry talking about safety.”

The six week competition has been designed specifically for smartphones and is aimed at “testing tradies on their football and safety knowledge”, while offering weekly prizes.

Local tradesmen can register for the Top Tradies Cup on