Showing up at work shouldn’t mean putting your life at risk. But a report from the ACTU shows Morrison’s failings have endangered workers lives.
Under the Morrison Government, there has been an 8% increase in serious workplace injuries
Insecure work has exploded in recent years, increasing risks of workplace injury
Mental health injury and illness at work claims have increased by nearly 60% since the Coalition came to power
Since Scott Morrison became Prime Minister there has been an 8% increase in serious workplace injuries and a 32% increase in workplace deaths.
Not only are these figures unacceptable but they are preventable.
For the past three years, Morrison has done nothing to implement the recommendations from the Review of Australia’s Work Health and Safety Laws.
ACTU Assistant Secretary Liam O’Brien points out how Morrison has been missing in action when it comes to ensuring workers can do their job in safety.
“Under this Government we have seen decades of steady progress in reducing the number of workers killed and seriously injured at work reversed,” he says.
Silicosis the worst industrial epidemic since asbestos
Silicosis is caused by high levels of exposure to silica dust and has no cure. Although the disease is entirely preventable, Morrison has ignored its rise among workers.
“At least 230 workers a year are being diagnosed with silicosis – many as young as 25,” O’Brien says.
“It’s 2022 and we’re seeing an increase in workers dying from entirely preventable occupational lung diseases.”
Australian doctors labelled it the worst industrial epidemic since asbestos, warning the Coalition Government about the high levels of silicosis amongst engineered stone workers back in 2016.
With over half a million workers exposed to hazardous silica dust the Government has been dragging its feet on introducing stronger prevention measures that would save thousands from contracting this chronic and incurable disease.
Morrison refuses to act on insecure work and mental health crisis
One in five Australians will experience a mental illness each year, with half of us experiencing one over our lifetime.
The report shows that improving job security is strongly associated with depression depression and anxiety. But that relationship swings the other way too.
The Morrison Government helped normalise insecure work in this country by changing laws in early 2021 that allow an employer to call any employee a casual worker.
Every worker has the right to healthy, safe and secure work. That means a workplace free of mental and physical hazards and where workers can, without fear, raise concerns about unsafe practices.
ACTU Assistant Secretary
“Workers whose jobs are insecure are less likely to feel like they can raise health and safety issues for fear of negative repercussions,” O’Brien says.
Morrison has also failed to implement recommendations from the 2018 Review of WHS laws requiring employers to take steps to reduce psychological injury and sexual harassment in the workplace.
It’s hardly surprising that mental health injury and illness at work claims have increased by nearly 60% since the Coalition came to power.
The report shares the story of Finance Sector Union member Meg, who describes the mental health consequences of exploitation and overwork.
“There’s a strong sense of dread I get when I’m reminded of work. I can’t shake it for minutes on end and it emotionally depresses me,” she says.
“I’ve started experiencing panic attacks as well. My relationships are being affected and I’m becoming more reclusive because of anxiety and stress.”
An understaffed and burnt-out mental health workforce is also struggling due to the Government’s inaction.
Frontline healthcare workers were already suffering increased levels of stress and PTSD, and COVID has only worsened the situation.
Until Morrison acts on mental health reform, workers lives will continue to be in immediate danger.
Your union is stepping up for work health and safety
Working people need a government that will make sure they’re safe at work, not one that goes missing when needed most.
But whether it’s supporting workers in unreliable jobs or working together to navigate workplaces during a pandemic, union members are stepping up where Morrison has failed.
Workers are people first. That’s why union members stand together for better workplace conditions and protected workers’ rights.