Safe Work Australia has attributed the high number of work-related
fatalities to unsafe design of machinery, plant and powered tools.
New data released by Safe Work Australia for the period 2006-2011
indicates that these workplace fatalities could have been avoided if safe
design principles had been adopted by businesses.
Of the 523 fatalities examined in this study, 36 per cent or 188
fatalities were found to be either definitely or possibly design-related, based
on reports by the coroner, prosecution or police, which specifically mentioned
design issues as a cause.
Safe Work Australia’s Chief Executive Officer Michelle Baxter observes
that good and safe design is the most effective and durable way to keep workers
safe, adding that injuries and fatalities at the workplace can be reduced by
eliminating hazards during the design of new machinery and equipment or by
including an aftermarket enhancement.
The most common causes of design related deaths according to the report
included inadequate guarding (21 per cent); lack of roll-over protection
structures/seat belts (15 per cent); lack of residual current device (12 per
cent); lack of interlock (8 per cent); and driver obstructed vision (8 per
According to Ms Baxter, the findings in this report should act as a
serious reminder to all employers and managers to re-evaluate the safety of their
‘Healthy and safe by design’ is one of seven action areas identified in
the Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012-2022.