According to a recently released Safe Work Australia (SWA) report, casual workers recorded a work-related injury rate 50% higher than non-casual workers in 2009/10.
Additionally, women reported a significantly higher rate of injuries per hour worked than men.
The report, Australian work-related injury experience by sex and age, 2009-2010, which examines the work-related injury experience of male and female workers across different age groups, aims to provide data that can assist employers in identifying the key demographics in which work health and safety must be improved.
In 2009/10 close to 640,000 workers reported they had suffered a work-related injury, which is close to triple the population of a city the size of Hobart, the report noted.
It added that while men recorded a 19% fall in the number of injuries incurred at work since 2005/06, the number for women increased by an alarming 11%.
Other key findings include:
Casual workers (those without leave entitlements) reported 54 injuries per million hours worked compared with a rate of 35 for those with leave entitlements.
Working under shift arrangements or as a part-time worker was also associated with higher rates of injury. Half of all female workers worked part-time in 2009-10.
For each hour worked females had a 28% higher risk of injury compared with male workers.
High rates of injury were experienced in the accommodation and food services industry. This industry has high levels of casual and part-time work.
The most common cause of injury across all age groups was sprain/strain.
Workers aged 15-24 recorded rates of injury substantially higher than other age groups.
Commenting on the report’s findings, CompliSpace noted that while there can be a variety of reasons why this could be the case, even a cursory survey of employers would indicate that casuals tend to receive far less WHS training than permanents, and yet the employer is equally responsible for them while they are engaged in work.
It added that for employers who have students or occasional casuals in entry level jobs, it is of particular importance to ensure, not only that they receive adequate WHS training, but that they are adequately supervised to ensure that they are doing their job safely.
CompliSpace also suggested that identifying the type of training and the level of supervision required would benefit from a risk assessment and consultation with other workers – and not to forget to ensure that you document everything properly.
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