18 years of Australian workers compensation data


Thursday, 16 January, 2020



18 years of Australian workers compensation data

A new report published this month by Safe Work Australia sets out Australian workers compensation statistics for 2017–18 and includes data organised according to age, industry, occupation and sex, as well as information on the bodily location, nature and mechanism of injury or disease. Key findings of the report include: there were a total of 107,335 serious workers compensation claims during the period; labourers (at 16.8 per million hours worked), community and personal service workers (at 11.1) and machinery operators and drivers (at 10.4) were the three occupations with the highest rate of serious claims; and the top three industries with the highest rate of serious claims per million hours worked were agriculture, forestry and fishing (at 8.1 per million hours worked), manufacturing (at 8.1) and transport, postal and warehousing (at 7.7).

Other key findings in the report for the 2017–18 period include: the frequency rate of serious claims was 5.5 per million hours worked; the incidence rate of serious claims per 1000 employees was 9.1; and the three main causes of serious claims by mechanism of incident were, in order of prevalence: ‘body stressing’ (at 36%), ‘falls, trips and slips of a person’ (at 23%) and ‘being hit by moving objects’ (at 16%). It is also revealed that men accounted for 63% of serious claims during 2017–18 (and 58% of hours worked) while women accounted for 37% of serious claims (and 42% of hours worked). In its discussion of gender, the report notes that serious claims arising from injury and musculoskeletal disorders accounted for a higher percentage of male serious claims (90% for men compared with 85% for women), while serious claims arising from disease accounted for a higher percentage of female serious claims (15% for women compared with 10% for men).

Older workers were found to be more prone to make a serious claim in 2017–18, especially those aged between 45 and 54 years (who accounted for 25% of serious claims) — younger workers (aged 25 and under) accounted for 25% of serious claims. Older workers also recorded generally higher incidence rates, with the highest incidence rate group being those aged 55 to 59 years (with 12.5 serious claims per 1000 employees), followed by age groups of 60–64 (with 12.2) and 50–54 (with 12.0). As part of its industry snapshot, the report notes that health care and social assistance together with the construction and manufacturing industries accounted for a combined total of 41% of all serious claims in 2017–18, despite only making up 29% of the Australian workforce. For the purpose of the report, a serious claim is defined as an accepted workers compensation claim for an incapacity resulting in an absence from work totalling one working week or more.

The report also draws on data from an 18-year period (between 2000–01 and 2017–18) to explore Australia’s work health and safety performance over time. Key findings from an extended period of workers compensation data include that there has been a 28% decrease in the frequency rate of serious claims per million hours worked between 2007–08 and 2016–17: from 7.9 to 5.7. For the same period, the total number of Australia’s serious claims also decreased by 18% (from 129,490 to 106,510), which was achieved despite an increase of close to 20% in the number of workers for the same period. The 2007–08 to 2016–17 period did, however, see an increase of 26% in the median time lost for a serious claim — from 4.6 to 5.8 working weeks.

The full report, titled ‘Australian workers’ compensation statistics 2017–18’, is available here.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Studio Romantic

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