Increase in work-related fatalities

Monday, 07 December, 2009

Safe Work Australia's Chair, Tom Phillips AM, recently announced the release of two reports on workplace fatalities: ‘Notified Fatalities Statistical Report 2008-09’ and ‘Work-related Traumatic Injury Fatalities, Australia 2006-07’.

The Notified Fatalities Statistical Report 2008-09 provides the most recent information on work-related fatalities which are notified to OHS authorities across Australia during the financial year.

Key findings of the report:

  • 177 notified work-related fatalities;
  • Of these, 151 were workers and 26 were bystanders;
  • 158 male fatalities, 17 female fatalities and 2 where the sex was not reported;
  • The mining and agriculture, forestry and fishing industries experienced considerable increase in worker fatalities, both experiencing the highest number of fatalities since the collection commenced in 2003-04.

Commenting on this comprehensive source of information on notified fatalities across Australia, Phillips said: “Tragically, there were 19 more notified worker fatalities in 2008-09 than in the previous year, an increase of 14%.

“This increase in fatalities demonstrates the need for all Australians to focus on safety in the workplace and undertake measures to improve safety standards. In a country such as Australia, fatalities should be decreasing. These figures reinforce the message that safety should be everybody’s number-one priority.”

The Work-related Traumatic Injury Fatalities, Australia 2006-07 is the fourth report in a series that estimate the number of workers and bystanders killed due to work-related injury by examining three datasets.

These datasets include the National Data Set for Compensation-based Statistics, the Notified Fatalities Collection and the National Coroners Information System. Not all traumatic work-related fatalities are notified to OHS authorities.

Phillips said that the report adds significantly to our understanding of work-related fatalities: “By publishing data from a range of data sources, Safe Work Australia demonstrates a commitment to providing the best possible information to improve workplace safety.”

Key findings of the report:

  • 453 work-related traumatic injury fatalities occurred in Australia during 2006-07.
  • Of these, 295 died of injuries sustained while working (9% increase from 2005-06), 93 died while commuting to or from work and 65 bystanders died as a result of someone else’s work activity.
  • Just over half of all work-related injury fatalities resulted from vehicle incidents.

Full reports can be downloaded from www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au.

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