#StandForSafety - Construction worker deaths up 64 per cent; families, workers, gather to commemorate International Workers Memorial Day


The number of construction workers who died on the job in Australia rose by 64 per cent in 2014.

The latest data from Safe Work Australia shows that last year, 28 workers in the construction industry alone died at work, compared to 17 in 2013.

The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union National President, Tony Maher, joined families who have lost loved ones due to workplace accidents, and injured workers, at a ceremony at the National Workers Memorial in Canberra, to commemorate International Workers’ Memorial Day.

“Today is a day of mourning and remembrance, but it’s also a day of action. We have seen a tragic increase in the number of construction workers who’ve lost their lives at work in Australia last year.

“Young workers in particular feel that they can’t speak up about workplace safety, and the consequences can be fatal.

“Construction, forestry and mining are among the most dangerous industries to work in. In fact, one of the most dangerous jobs you can have is as a construction labourer. They are killed at four times the rate of workers in all other jobs.

“Without unions fighting for safer conditions, more employers would get away with breaches and even more workers would be seriously injured. The CFMEU will always take a stand so that workers can come home safely to what matters most.”

Michael Garrels is the father of Jason Garrels who was killed at work in Queensland in 2012. Jason was just 20 years old when he was electrocuted on a construction site in Clermont in February 2012.

Michael said it was vital that the more experienced employees in a workplace speak up.

“People at every level, especially those with experience, should speak up. Jason did not have the awareness, he would have thought everything was fine,” Michael Garrels said.

“If the workplace was a union worksite, I don’t believe the accident would have occurred.”

Michael has described the impact of Jason’s loss on the family and community as utter devastation.

“I hope that by encouraging others to speak out at work, we can save the next Jason,” Michael said.

To commemorate International Workers Memorial Day and to highlight the impact of serious workplace accidents, the CFMEU is supporting the campaign to post a photo of an empty pair of shoes and share it online - #StandForSafety.

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The CFMEU is Australia's main trade union in construction, forestry and furnishing products, mining and energy production.


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