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7 insights from Safe Work Australia’s annual workplace injuries and workplace fatalities report

6 minute read

Workers' compensation

Safe Work Australia is a national policy body that exists to improve workplace health and safety (WHS) and Commonwealth, state and territory workers’ compensation arrangements.  Each year, Safe Work Australia releases its key insights into national, state and territory WHS statistics, including workplace injuries, workplace fatalities and workers’ compensation claims.  Here we share the top seven insights from the report and how we can help you if you ever face a workplace injury. 

What is the annual Safe Work Australia Key Work Health and Safety Statistics report?  

There are too many injuries at work and workplace fatalities. Safe Work Australia’s annual report into fatalities and injuries in the workplace provides insight into: 

  • The major causes of injuries at work  

  • Which incidents lead to workplace fatalities 

  • Workplace mental health statistics in Australia 

  • The impacts of work injuries on Australia’s economy 

Why it’s important to report injuries at work and workplace fatalities In Australia it’s mandatory to notify the WHS regulator of workplace injuries if: 

  • There’s a workplace fatality 

  • There’s a serious workplace injury or illness 

  • There’s been a dangerous workplace incident where a worker has been exposed to serious risk of injury (even if no one suffered a work injury 

It’s important that workplace related injuries and stress statistics in Australia are recorded because: 

  • The information can help identify causes of injuries at work and workplace fatalities  

  • The information can help show trends in workplace injuries and Australian mortality statistics 

This data can help to prevent injuries at work and workplace fatalities, ensure employers’ accountability and help keep Australians workers safe at work.

Seven insights into work injuries and workplace fatalities 

Safe Work Australia’s insights into workplace fatalities and injuries at work follow their compilation of national workers’ compensation statistics. Their data is obtained from the workers’ compensation authorities from national, state and territory governments. Data is also obtained from the Australian Bureau of Statistics regarding work-related injuries and illnesses. 

One - Injuries at work claims 

In 2021 – 2022, most serious work injuries claims were made by men (accounting for 60.8% of claims). The nature of injuries sustained, types of jobs and differences in wages however meant that: 

  • Work injuries claims made by women resulted in a higher median time lost at work (8.8 weeks) than for men (7.6 weeks) 

  • Work injuries claims made by men resulted in a higher median workers' compensation being paid ($16,476) than for women ($14,604) 

Two - The most common causes of serious workplace injuries 

The most common causes of workplace injuries leading to serious workers’ compensation claims in 2021-2022 included: 

  • Body stressing, such as traumatic injuries to joints, ligaments, muscles and tendons (32.6%) 

  • A person falling, tripping or slipping (22%) 

  • Being hit by a moving object (15.1%) 

  • Mental stress (9.2%) 

Biological factors such as infections and parasitic diseases (7.7%)   

Three - The most common types of workplace injuries 

According to Safe Work Australia, the most common types of workplace injuries in 2021-2022 included: 

  • Traumatic injuries to joints, ligaments, muscles or tendons (36.7%) 

  • Wounds, lacerations, amputations and damage to internal organs (17.6%) 

  • Musculoskeletal and connective tissue diseases (12.7%) 

  • Fractures (11.5%) 

  • Mental health conditions (6.5%) 

Four – Workplace injuries claims by occupation or industry 

According to data collated and reviewed by Safe Work Australia, there were four occupational groups that accounted for more than 75% of serious injuries at work claims in 2021-2022: 

  • Labourers made 34,900 serious claims (27.5% of serious workplace injuries claims) 

  • Community and personal service workers made 27,500 claims (21.7% of serious workplace injuries claims) 

  • Workers in technical and trades industries made 20,000 claims (15.8% of serious workplace injuries claims) 

  • Workers operating or driving machinery made 16,200 claims (12.8% of serious work injuries claims) 

Despite these four occupational groups accounting for 77.7% of serious workplace injuries claims during 2021-2022, they represent only 38.2% of Australian workers. 

Five – Workplace fatalities claims 

In 2022 : 

  • 195 Australian workers died from work injuries. 181 of those workers were male and 14 were female 

  • The highest number of workplace fatalities occurred in New South Wales (51 workers), followed by 49 workers in Queensland 

  • The highest workplace fatality age group was workers aged 65 and over (6.2 fatalities per 100,000 workers) 

  • The youngest age group for workplace fatalities was workers aged 25 and under (0.8 fatalities per 100,000 workers). 

Six - The most common causes of workplace fatalities 

Safe Work Australia’s insights into work-related injury fatalities include workers who die from injuries at work. They do not include workplace fatalities from disease, natural causes or suicide. The most common causes of workplace injuries leading to fatality in 2022 included:  

  • Vehicle incidents, including cars, trucks, aircraft, boats, tractors, loaders and quad bikes (81 workers) 

  • Being hit by moving objects (26 workers) 

  • Being hit by falling objects (17 workers) and falling from a height (17 workers) 

Seven – Workplace fatalities claims by occupation or industry 

72% of workplace fatalities in 2022 directly involved at least one vehicle. The three occupations that recorded the highest number of worker fatalities in 2022 were:  

  • 74 machinery operators or drivers died because of work injuries (38% of workplace fatalities or 8.4 per 100,000 workers) 

  • 34 labourers died in a work-related incident (2.9 workplace fatalities per 100,000 workers) 

  • 32 managers died (1.8 workplace fatalities per 100,000 workers) 

The main industries in which workers sustained fatal workplace injuries included: 

  • Agriculture, forestry and fishing (44 workers died or 14.7 workplace fatalities per 100,000 workers) 

  • Transport, postal and warehousing (67 workers died or 9.5 fatalities per 100,000 workers) 

  • Electricity, gas, water and waste services (5 workers died or 3.0 fatalities per 100,000 workers) 

  • Mining (7 workers died or 2.4 fatalities per 100,000 workers) 

  • Construction (27 workers died or 2.2 workplace fatalities per 100,000 workers) 

What is the Australian WHS strategy for 2023 to 2033? 

Injuries at work and workplace fatalities have significant personal, workplace and economic impacts. The Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2023 – 2033 has been endorsed by the national and all state and territory governments, as well as the ACTU. It sets goals for key WHS improvements to reduce workers’ injuries and illnesses, workplace fatalities and ensure that workers return home safely.     

How Shine Lawyers can help

If you or your loved one has been injured in a work-related incident, you don’t have to go it alone. At Shine Lawyers we’re committed to ensuring Australian workers have access to legal advice and support, no matter where you are or what your financial circumstances are.  Shine Lawyers’ workers’ compensation teams can help you in:

In each state and territory, our workers’ compensation services are offered on a No Win No Fee* basis. This means you won't have to pay our legal fees unless we win your workers' compensation claim. 

Check if you have a workers’ compensation claim with our free claim check

*Conditions apply 

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