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Australian Dock Workers: how safe are you on the job?


Written by:
Catie Norman
Legal Practice Manager, Associate

According to Safe Work Australia, stevedoring has a rate of serious injury three times higher than the average for all industries and over twice the rate of construction. In an average year, at least one stevedoring worker is killed on the job.

However, the nature of loading and discharging cargo vessels involves a vast array of risks, and waterside workers are more likely to be killed than the average worker.

What risks are around our docks?

Working around cranes and forklifts puts dock workers at risk of crush injuries and broken bones, whilst the extreme weather conditions can lead to strains and sprains due to slips and trips.

Accessing cargo, climbing ladders and working on the top of containers presents a serious fall risk for workers, which can lead to serious injury or even death.

Working in restricted or enclosed spaces, working with suspended cargo or unsecured loads, noisy machinery and hazardous chemicals are further hazards associated with stevedoring operations. Given the dangers involved in this type of work, the stevedoring industry has high rates of injury.

However, in our experience, many of these injuries could be prevented with adequate training and supervision of workers.

What to do if you are injured?

  • Report your injury to your employer immediately and complete either an incident report or an entry in the register of injuries. Retain a copy of any incident report or entry that you complete.
  • Seek medical treatment and ensure you provide a full and frank history of how you were injured and the nature of your injuries.
  • If your injury is going to require ongoing medical treatment and time off work lodge a WorkCover Claim as soon as reasonably practicable after your injury. Ensure that you retain a copy of the claim for your records.
  • If your WorkCover Claim is rejected and you wish to dispute the rejection lodge a request for conciliation with the Accident Compensation Conciliation Service within 60 days of receiving the decision. Failure to lodge a request for conciliation within this time can mean that you forever finalise your right to dispute the rejection of your claim;
  • Seek legal advice from a practitioner specialising in personal injury law to discuss your potential rights and entitlements. Initial consultations are generally free and there is no obligation to proceed further and pursue a claim.

Shine Lawyers - we're here to help

If you’ve been injured while working on the docks you may have a claim for workers compensation. Our expert lawyers specialise in WorkCover claims and can assist you through the claims process.

Our worker’s compensation lawyers work on a no win, no fee basis, please get in touch today for a confidential, no-obligation consultation with one of our lawyers.

This opinion piece has been adapted from an original column Catie Norman wrote for the Westsider newspaper.

Written by Catie Norman. Last modified: October 16, 2019.

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