Concern about spate of workplace deaths

Unions have raised concerns about workplace safety following the deaths of six workers in 11 days in Victoria.

In the latest accident, a 52-year-old Endeavour Hills man drowned while carrying out routine sampling work at a sewage treatment plant in Melbourne's south-east.

Another worker was run over by a street sweeper at Bayswater North.

Ian Forsythe, the executive director of health and safety at WorkSafe says it is the largest number of deaths in such a short time in a decade.

"The message we are wanting to get out to people is we are coming up to a very hectic time of year and people sit back, not cut corners and remind employers that the onus is on them to make sure that workplaces are safe," he said.

"November is traditionally a pretty dangerous time at workplaces, but certainly nothing in the realms of what we've seen in the last two weeks."

National secretary of the CFMEU, Dave Noonan, says employees are under pressure to cut corners.

He says one worker is killed in the construction industry in Australia every week.

"It's not actually good enough just to have a tick and flick paperwork exercise in relation to safety," he told ABC local radio.

"What you need is a situation where workers feel empowered to refuse unsafe work and that is under serious pressure, including in the construction industry at the moment."

Shaun Cox, the managing director of Melbourne Water, which manages the sewage treatment plant says police and WorkSafe are investigating the drowning.

He says staff are quite shocked by the incident.

"We're working with his family and friends to help them through it but we're also focused on his colleagues. He was working here for some five years," he told ABC local radio.

Emergency officials had to pump 1.5 million litres of sewage out of the pond to find the dead man's body.