Each year, Safe Work Australia produces national work health and safety statistics, providing important evidence on the state of work health and safety in Australia.

Key Work Health and Safety Statistics, Australia 2022 provides an overview of the latest national data on work-related fatalities and workers’ compensation claims. This includes trends, gender and age comparisons, and industry and occupation breakdowns.

Understanding the causes of injury and the industries most affected can help reduce work-related fatalities, injuries and disease. Work-related fatalities, injuries and illnesses have a devastating impact on workers, their families and the community.

Tragically, 169 workers died in 2021 – of which 19 were killed due to a fall form height, and 16 from being hit by falling objects.

For the last 5 years straight, falls from height remains one of the leading causes of workplace fatalities in Australia.

2017-18
28 falls from height (15%)
15 being hit by falling objects (8%)

2018-19
18 falls from height (13%)
15 being hit by falling objects (10%)

2019-20
21 falls from height (11%)
21 being hit by falling objects (11%)

2020-21
22 falls from height (11%)
17 being hit by falling objects (9%)

2021-22
19 falls from height (11%)
16 being hit by falling objects (9%)

Worker fatalities by mechanism of incident, 2021.

The Construction Sector remains one of the leading industries work workplace fatalities and incidents / workers’ compensation claims.

Whilst we can see a promising decrease in Australia’s overall rate of fatalities, from 2003 to 2021, there is worrying increase in the number of worker’s compensation claims.

There were a total of 114,435 serious workers’ compensation claims in Australia in 2018-19.

There were a total of 120,355 serious workers’ compensation claims in Australia in 2019-20. Body stressing was the leading cause of serious workers’ compensation claims in 2019-20, accounting for 37% of all serious claims.

There were a total of 130,195 serious workers’ compensation claims in Australia in 2020-21. Body stressing was the leading cause of serious workers’ compensation claims in 2020-21, accounting for 37% of all serious claims.

Mental health conditions account for a relatively small but increasing proportion of serious claims, rising from 6% of all serious claims in 2014-15 to 9% in 2020-21. In 2020-21, the largest share related to anxiety or stress disorders (36%) or reaction to stressors – other, multiple or not specified (34%). Workplace mental health conditions are one of the costliest forms of workplace injury. SafeWork Australia data shows that they lead to significantly more time off work and higher compensation paid when compared to physical injuries and diseases.

It stands to reason that Mental Health is one of the current focus points for SafeWork Australia, including the release of the Code of Practice for Managing psychosocial hazards at work earlier this year.

The WAHA continue to work towards a zero fatality future for those in the at height sectors. The WAHA is dedicated to supporting and influencing the ongoing development of safe practice, equipment innovation, systems and product design, continuous education of all stakeholders and the operational competency of all persons working at height and in confined spaces.

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