Media Releases

New SafeWork SA chief must step up to make South Aussies safer

April 13, 2023

SafeWork SA announces new boss Glenn Farrell, and South Australian Unions are warning of significant economic and skills challenges unless the recommendations of the independent review of SafeWork SA are enacted.

Earlier this year the independent Merritt review identified a litany of failures at SafeWork SA. Merritt found a regulator that is inactive, inaccessible, and unaccountable.

Merritt's report concluded that "(SafeWork SA's) excessive internal focus appears to have come at the expense of the organisation focusing on the health and safety outcomes in the state."

"Our state's safety system is focused on reactive prosecution and not only fails at preventing workplace injury but it's compounding the state's economic and skills challenges," said SA Unions Secretary Dale Beasley.

Recent modelling from the McKell institute has painted a dire picture of the impact of workplace injury in SA on workers spending power and our skills crisis. The report highlighted that workplace injury and premature labour market exits are not only set to cost the state over $16 million annually but compound existing skills challenges.

"Every Month in South Australia, a worker dies on the Job. The union movement is committed to working with government and the business community to address the rates of workplace injury and death," said Dale Beasley.

"We welcome Mr Farrell's commitment to 'build on (the agency’s role) to make workplaces safe through education, compliance and enforcement'. The agency has needed someone to do that work for many years," said Beasley.

Beasley continued, "But SafeWork SA can't continue to have a monopoly on safety, it's just not sustainable, SafeWork SA can't be everywhere. Workers are experts at their jobs so are best placed to identify safety risks. Workers need to be better empowered and supported to speak up to proactively fix hazards together with their employers."

"Workers' lives are at risk every day. We're calling for the recommendations from the Merritt review to be implemented as a matter of priority," said Beasley.