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Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy in Manufacturing (Part three)

In case you missed it, our first part in this series checked in on the Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy review for the nation, while part two dived in on the risks facing the road transport industry and all the progress the collective behind this plan is making to improve this industry.

In the Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy, both the transport and manufacturing sectors were identified as a national priority. In this final part, we’ll be looking at the national approach to manufacturing.

Manufacturing was identified due to its high number of work-related fatalities, injuries and illnesses, with the industry representing 9% of all worker fatalities.

When we look a little deeper what’s most concerning is the fact that younger workers in manufacturing are the most likely to make claim, with 15-24-year-olds recording an injury rate 44% higher than younger workers in the Australian workforce as a whole. While experience is a likely factor in generating this statistic, it also calls into question the standard of training, particularly WHS, for apprentices in manufacturing.

Risks associated with manufacturing

The biggest risks for workers in manufacturing include musculoskeletal disorders due to manual handling and body stressors, slips and falls, and working with dangerous machinery and equipment.

The research so far truly speaks for itself:

  • 18 workers died on the job or due to work-related injury each year in manufacturing
  • 49 people died in fabricated metal product manufacturing industry since 2003
  • 41% of claims in manufacturing was due to body stressing, with the majority of claims due to strain or injury from lifting, carrying or putting down boxes or handing metal products
  • Falls, trips and slips represented 15% of compensation claims. Nearly all of these claims were from falling down stairs or tripping over objects in traffic areas

The national approach to improving safety in manufacturing

The strategy aims to reduce serious injury by at least 30% and work fatalities by 20% before the close of 2022.

Since the strategy was developed in 2012, Safe Work Australia and the powers that be have been working collaboratively with the manufacturing industry, unions, relevant industry groups, regulators and the community to achieve the targets through new codes of practice, guides, reports and case studies, videos and seminars.

Some of the new policies coming out of the strategy are already familiar, including:

  • Guidance material for the safe design, manufacture, import and supply of plant
  • Guide for importing and supplying safe plant
  • Guide to handling refractory ceramic fibres
  • Guide to Managing Risks Associated with Foundry Work
  • Labelling Requirements for Agricultural and Veterinary (AgVet) Chemicals
  • Model Code of Practice: Managing Risks of Plant in the Workplace

Some of the most interesting reports for the manufacturing industry to help inform policy in your own business include the Australian Work Exposures Study – Carcinogen Exposures in the Manufacturing Industry, Work Health and Safety in Structural Metal Product Manufacturing: A Qualitative Research Study and Work Health and Safety Perceptions: Manufacturing Industry.

All of these reports, codes of practices and further information can be viewed on the Safe Work Australia Manufacturing page.

About The Drake Group

The Drake Group has always maintained its commitment to safety, not only to its employees but of the drivers and operators of the trailers we manufacture. Find out more about our range of engineering services, collectible models and trailers for all applications by contacting us today.

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