Australia’s fatality rate has decreased by 62 per cent from a peak of over 300 in 2007 to 144 last year, and serious injury claims are down 29 per cent since 2001-08, according to Safe Work Australia’s (SWA) latest figures.
SWA’s Key work health and safety statistics report was released this week, and while it shows the number and rate of worker fatalities have continued to decline in line with long-term trends, SWA CEO Michelle Baxter said the numbers were not cause for “celebration”.
“While these trends are encouraging, they are not a cause for celebration. Every work-related fatality is a tragedy, and there’s a lot more work to be done.”
“We know that work-related fatalities, injuries and disease have a devastating impact on workers and their families. Understanding the latest statistics can help identify ways to prevent these.”
The Northern Territory was the worst performing state for workplace fatalities in 2018 with 1.6 fatalities per 100,000 workers. This was compared to 1.6 for QLD, 1.2 for NSW, 1.0 for VIC, 1.0 for WA, and 0.9 for SA.
Vehicle collisions were the most common fatal injury mechanisms in 2018 at 31 per cent, followed by being hit by a moving object (17 per cent), and falls from height (13 per cent).
Unsurprisingly, agriculture, forestry and fishing was the most hazardous industry with 37 fatalities (11.2 per 100,00 workers). This was nearly double the fatality rate of the next most hazardous industry – transport and warehousing (38 fatalities at 5.9 per 100,000 workers).
For serious injury claims, there was 107,335 serious claims in 2017-18 at a frequency rate of 5.5 per million hours worked. The median time lost was 5.8 weeks and the median compensation paid was 11,300 per claim.
Traumatic joint/ligament and muscle/tendons injuries made up the bulk of these claims at 41 per cent, followed by wounds, lacerations and amputations at 16 per cent.