Reduction in workplace deaths, but more to be done

by Stephanie Zillman08 Oct 2012

Reduction in workplace deaths, but more to be doneThe chair of Safe Work Australia has commended Australian workplaces for reducing the number of workplace fatalities – but added that one fatality is too many.

“Although Australia continues to have a reduction in workplace fatalities, there were still 169 compensated fatalities in Australia in 2010-11,” Tom Phillips said at the release of the Comparative Performance Monitoring (CPM) report on Australia’s work health and safety and workers’ compensation outcomes for 2010–11. Phillips said the report continues to indicate a decreasing rate of compensated injury fatalities since the development of the National OHS Strategy.

Notably Phillips pointed to a statistic which revealed that 11 out of every 1,000 workers were injured seriously enough to require one week or more off work. It was also found that since 2002 there has been a 28% improvement in the rate of serious injuries. However, this is still below the target set in the National OHS Strategy 2002-2012 of a 40% reduction in the rate of injuries by 2012. 

Other key findings in the report included:

  • the injury and disease rates in the transport and storage, manufacturing and agriculture, forestry and fishing industries are still nearly twice the national average
  • Australian workers’ compensation schemes expended more than $7bn, of which around half (55%) was paid directly to injured workers in compensation for their injury or illness and 23%  was spent on medical and other services
  • body stressing continued to be the injury/disease that resulted in the greatest proportion of claims (40%)
  • work health and safety authorities undertook close to 211,000 workplace interventions and issued 58,000 notices during 2010–11, and
  • employers are now paying 1.49% of payroll in workers' compensation premiums compared to 1.79% in 2006–07.

The research coincides with another recent report which identified higher rates of injury among casual workers. The report, released in July by Safe Work Australia, found that casual workers recorded a work-related injury rate 50% higher than non-casual workers in 2009-10, and females reported a significantly higher rate of injuries per hour worked than males.


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