OurSay: Workplace deaths in the spotlight

In the spotlight ... Workplace safety affects all family members.
In the spotlight ... Workplace safety affects all family members. 

OurSay gives you the chance to let politicians know about the issues that affect you the most, and the current ‘All About Families’ forum shows that Aussie families are doing it tough in a variety of ways. Here, we share information on one of the issues that’s gathering a lot of attention on the OurSay forum: workplace fatalities, and how the government can ease the burden of families affected by such accidents.

According to Safe Work Australia, there have been 155 workplace deaths in Australia this year.

As Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) ACT branch secretary Dean Hall pointed out, these aren’t just statistics – there are “real humans on the other end of them”.

''There are partners that no longer have someone because they have been killed in the workplace, children who no longer have a father or a mother, relationship breakdown where people no longer have families any more or support networks,” he told The Canberra Times after a spate of workplace deaths in October this year.  

It’s an issue that’s clearly close to the heart of many Australian families, as a question about workplace injuries has received many votes in the OurSay 'All About Families' forum.

The forum gives Australians the chance to ask Federal Minister for Families, Jenny Macklin, about the issues that affect their lives the most. The public is able to vote on these questions, and the people who pose the five most popular questions will be invited to discuss them with Minister Macklin at an event by hosted by Essential Baby.

Wendy Lark, from the family support group Workplace Tragedy, used the OurSay forum to ask the Minister about the processes that occur when a workplace fatality occurs.

“Families are badly physically, socially, psychologically and economically impacted by a sudden often violent work-related death,” she wrote.

“Is it possible to (a) have uniform collection, recording & reporting of work-related deaths across all jurisdictions, and (b) have all jurisdictions reduce the length of time their post-death processes last … and (c) treat families with more dignity rather than taking a legalistic approach to such deaths? From our experience the longer the processes go on, the more entrenched the psychological damage becomes.”


A statement by Workplace Tragedy stated that “victims of crime have more rights than families of workers killed – they at least find out exactly what happened, and usually in a timely manner”.

But for families impacted by a workplace fatality, the group points out, it can take several years for an official conclusion to be reached.

“One family we know didn’t find out about the circumstances of their beloved father’s death until eight years later - and finding out the who, what, when, where, how and why gave them some peace, because they had not been informed or were misinformed at the time,” the statement read.

To vote on questions - either the one posed by Wendy Lark, or others - or to bring Minister Macklin's attention to another issue, visit the OurSay 'All About families' forum.