Victoria’s Minister for WorkCover, Assistant Treasurer Gordon Rich-Phillips, obviously felt obliged to get in early for the 2012 WorkSafe Week by stating, in a media release, that:
“Victoria is the safest state in Australia in which to work”
Rich-Phillips quotes a range of statistics based on a recent report by Safe Work Australia (SWA) - the Fourteenth Edition of the Comparative Performance Monitoring. His claims may be correct but he is selective. He mentions his State’s workers compensation claims performance:
“Victoria had nine serious injury and disease claims for every 1,000 employees, far fewer than the national average of 12.2 claims. It was also well ahead of the Northern Territory (11.2 claims), Western Australia (12), South Australia (12.3), Australian Capital Territory (13), New South Wales (13.7), Queensland (14.7) and Tasmania (15.6).”
However it is well-known that workers’ compensation statistics indicate performance of the workers’ compensation scheme and claims, and not the real workplace injury rate. The SWA report provides information on both safety performance and workers’ compensation claims. The Minister extrapolates the performance of one element and applies it to the other.
The Comparative Performance Monitoring report also measures each State’s regulatory safety performance against the agreed National OHS Strategy. Against the Injury and Musculoskeletal measure, again based on claims data, only South Australia exceeded the “36% improvement required to meet the long term target of a 40% improvement by 30 June 2012.”
Victoria came third, after New South Wales, with a 31% improvement rate.
Safe Work Australia stated that
“ It is unlikely that Australia will meet the target.” (page 2)
The targets of the OHS National Strategy established in 2012 have been aspirational for some time and without any fear of sanction or reward for attainment, the worth of any National OHS Strategy is dubious.
SWA’s report also includes very positive national statistics on fatalities but still insists that:
“The volatility in this measure means that this improvement should be interpreted with caution and consistent improvement is still required to ensure the target is actually achieved.” (page 3)
This caution is missing from the statements of Gordon Rich-Phillips. More…