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Cost of silence

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WHAT'S the cost of not picking up the phone?

Concern about legal action might tempt someone not to report a workplace injury to authorities, but it's a risky strategy, WorkSafe 's Executive Director, John Merritt, warns.

"The law requiring notification of injuries is clear. It has not changed substantially in more than 20 years, and it is enshrined in the Occupational Health and Safety Act,"

"Of all the workplace incidents reported to it each year, WorkSafe prosecutes between 150 and 200 matters. If incidents are not reported the consequences and likelihood of prosecution quickly rises.

The penalties for failing to notify WorkSafe of a serious incident or injury are up to $30,000 for companies and $6,000 for individuals.

"Unreported incidents that are subsequently discovered are looked at seriously by WorkSafe and the courts. It can also impede inquiries which can prevent similar incidents," Mr Merritt said.

WorkSafe currently has four cases concerning non-reported incident before the courts.

They involve:

* a shop assistant who required emergency surgery to a broken hip after a fall

* a labourer with a serious laceration from a slitting machine

* an assistant who lost the tip of his finger in a crushing incident

* a serious laceration to the thumb on a meat band saw

WorkSafe has written to employer groups and the Victorian Trades Hall Council and urged them to remind their members of the reporting requirement and their legal obligations.

WorkSafe's "Guide to Incident Notification" can be found on its website, worksafe.vic.gov.au under 'Publications'. Printed copies are available by calling WorkSafe on 1800 136 089.

WorkSafe has a 24-hour number to report incidents, 132-360.

For detailed information of the requirements concerning notification of workplace deaths, injuries, incidents and site preservation refer to WorkSafe's Guide to Incident Notification or call WorkSafe's Advisory Service on 1800 136 089.

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