Page 1141 - Week 04 - Wednesday, 4 May 2022

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The service was a timely reminder that occupational health and safety is something that can never be forgotten or overlooked. No worker should lose their life at work. We need to work hard to ensure that every single worker comes home safe at the end of each day. International Workers’ Memorial Day is a day to remember those who have died from a work-related injury or illness. It is also a time to reflect on what we need to do as legislators to continue improving workplace safety. The theme for Workers’ Memorial Day this year—“Make safe and healthy work a fundamental right. It’s a no-brainer.”—reflects this. This theme puts work health and safety at the front of people’s minds as a basic right. It reminds us all that workplaces are meant to be safe places, and no worker should suffer from any form of injury.

The latest Safe Work Australia data shows that, tragically, 194 workers lost their lives in 2020 due to a work-related injury. Here in the ACT, two workers suffered fatal injuries whilst at work. Whilst workplace fatalities have been on a steady decline since 2007, it is important that we take time to remember those who have tragically lost their lives. Their stories should never be forgotten. On World Day for Safety and Health at Work, we reflect on the fact that we must continue to prioritise workplace safety. It is a day that reminds us that we must continue to prevent occupational deaths, injuries, diseases and illnesses.

In 2019-20 over 120,000 serious compensation claims resulting from a workplace injury were lodged in this country. Serious claims include all workers who accepted compensation claims for an incapacity that resulted in a total absence from work for over one working week. Long-lasting workplace injuries are debilitating, not only preventing one from working but profoundly impact on someone’s ability to live their life outside of work as well.

The theme set by the International Labour Organisation for this year’s World Day for Safety and Health at Work is “Act together to build a positive safety and health culture”. The theme encourages workplaces to adopt an inclusive work health and safety culture where everyone in the workplace is able to contribute and have a say on issues pertaining to health and safety.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced employers and workers to work side by side in adopting new WHS practices in an ever-changing situation. This unprecedented period emphasised that safety can and must be made a priority in our workplaces. This year’s World Day for Safety and Health at Work aims to build on this relationship and to encourage employers and workers to work together to promote an inclusive WHS framework and culture.

It is important that workers feel able to speak up if they feel unsafe. They should never be shamed, ostracised or punished by an employer for raising a safety concern. Striving to shift the culture in workplaces so that speaking up is not only normalised but encouraged is essential. Every worker deserves to come home safe at the end of the day. We must continue the fight to ensure that workers’ health and safety at work is always protected. Madam Speaker, we remember the dead and fight like hell for the living.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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