Coming home from our jobs in one piece is something that most of us take for granted. For others, poor management, a lack of training and dodgy equipment are par for the course – meaning it’s only a matter of time before disaster strikes.
According to the latest statistics, 71,000 injuries happen in Queensland annually, affecting one in every 35 workers.
Salvation was one of those workers.
A fresh start
18 year old Salvation was excited to land a new job the same year finishing high school, in December 2018. Fresh out high school, the role meant a career plan, financial freedom, and a way to help support his big family.
Less than 12 months into the role, Salvation was working with a colleague to fix a machine that had broken down. The machine had been turned off, and Salvation was inside trying to fasten a loose bolt.
Suddenly, Salvation heard the machine turn back on, and turned around to get back outside. In the process, his right hand grazed the fast-moving conveyor belt.
Rushed to hospital, Salvation underwent surgery. He had sustained significant lacerations and a de-tipping of 3 fingers of his dominant hand.
After several weeks off work, Salvation is back on light duties. He doesn’t know when he will be able to go back to his normal job.
Work injuries can be avoided
Salvation’s lawyer, Michaela Bartonkova, argues that most work injuries are preventable if employers take their legal obligations seriously.
"The easiest way to keep workers injury-free is simple: have safe systems and safe work methods in place," says Michaela.
"In Salvation’s case, a system is needed where workers can’t go into that machine or there being a stop switch on the machine – so when the machine senses a body part, it just shuts down."
Michaela also acknowledges that for some work injuries, the changes are irreversible – not just physically, but emotionally.
"Whilst sometimes our clients sustain physical injuries, there are psychological impacts," she said. "There are difficulties just adjusting to normal life after an injury.”
You should be able to work safe
October is Safe Work Month, and we are highlighting stories from our clients who prove that no matter what you do or where you work, safe work matters.
It is your right to come home from work safely. It is your right to go to work in an environment that is free from risk of injury and with management that cares about your wellbeing.
Safety at work is the responsibility of everyone and if you feel like your workplace is unsafe, speak up and encourage your employer to make positive changes. Not only does this protect you, it also protects your colleagues and it gives you evidence in your favour should something happen at work.
If something has happened to you, seek legal advice without delay. Finding out where you stand early can make an important difference.