Construction began in Canberra this morning on a memorial to honour those who have lost their lives as a result of work-related deaths.
Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Bill Shorten was joined at the ground-breaking ceremony in Kings Park (adjacent to Lake Burley Griffin) by Senator Doug Cameron, Chair of the National Workers’ Memorial Steering Committee.
“The National Workers’ Memorial will honour and pay tribute to all Australians who have died as a result of an incident in the workplace,” Mr Shorten said.
“Each year, on average, up to 300 Australians are killed at work and it is estimated more than 2000 will die from industrial diseases caused by exposure at work. That’s nearly 300 workers, mainly fathers and sons, who do not come home from work.”
“All employers and workers have a duty to ensure that when somebody leaves their family for the start of each working day, they can expect to return home safely.”
Senator Cameron said the National Workers’ Memorial will serve as a poignant reminder of the importance of work health and safety and the need for a determined and continued effort by all to prevent work-related accidents and disease.
“The Steering Committee comprised members from all political parties and was testament to the bipartisan support to improve workplace safety,” Senator Cameron said.
Over the past four years the Gillard Government has worked in partnership with the state and territory governments and their work safety regulators, business groups and the ACTU to achieve a new model legislative framework for health and safety.
“The model work health and safety laws are a significant improvement on previous OHS laws and now operate in five jurisdictions. This means that more than 58 per cent of Australian workers have been covered since 1 January 2012,” Mr Shorten said.
“The memorial will include eight columns each representing a state or territory – making one memorial. I see this as a fitting representation of our work to harmonise health and safety legislation, nine different jurisdictions – one model law. It is my firm view that we must keep working to make sure the remaining states that have not yet harmonised their legislation do so.”