National priorities

The Australian Strategy identifies national priority industries and disorders to help direct prevention activities to where they are needed the most.

All jurisdictions undertake activities to support improved workplace performance with particular attention paid to the national priority industries and disorders. More information about these activities can be found on jurisdictions’ websites.

National priorities are also a focus of national compliance and enforcement activity by the Heads of Workplace Safety Authorities.

The examples on this website are intended to give a sample of selected national activities. However the majority of work to improve performance in priorities areas is undertaken by the relevant regulators, employer and employee bodies, industry bodies and individual workplaces.

Priority industries

These industries have high numbers and rates of deaths and/or injuries or are by their nature hazardous:

  • Agriculture
  • Road transport
  • Manufacturing
  • Construction
  • Accommodation and food services
  • Public administration and safety, and
  • Health care and social assistance.

Priority industry statistics
Priority industry publications  
Priority industry case studies

Focus industry sectors

The agriculture and road freight transport industries will be a focus for activities in the first five years of the Australian Strategy with a goal to reduce the numbers of fatalities.


While the agriculture sector only employs a relatively small number of workers it consistently has a disproportionally high number of workplace deaths and injuries. Typically claims in agriculture are as a result of:

  • falls from a height
  • body stressing
  • being hit by an animal
  • vehicle incidents.

These mechanisms caused

  • sprains and strains of joints and muscles
  • fractures, and
  • open wounds.

Agriculture was one of the key themes of the 2014 Virtual Seminar Series – see for example:

  • Alive and well: A new approach to promoting farm safety
  • Farm safety: It’s important
  • Agriculture data – the big picture
  • Safety on outback stations – A profile of the Northern Territory’s cattle industry
  • Safe Work Australia: Looking ahead

Example agriculture case studies

Agriculture resources, links and activities

Road transport

Over the 10 years to 2012, 472 workers in the road transport sector were killed while at work and in 2012, the road transport fatality rate was 12 times the national average.

Road transport also has an injury rate significantly above other sectors with the most serious claims from body stressing and falls, which commonly cause sprains and strains of joints and muscles and fractures.

Truck driver health checks were offered as a joint initiative of Safe Work Australia, the National Transport Commission, preventionXpress and the Institute for Breathing and Sleeping.

Road transport is one of the key themes of the Virtual Seminar Series, and many of the events relate to this topic, for example:

  • Leadership in the transport industry
  • Road transport data – the big picture
  • Road transport case study: Toll NQX
  • Road transport case study: Hanson
  • Road transport culture
  • Safe Work Australia: Looking ahead

Road transport resources, links and activities

Priority disorders

The following work-related disorders have been chosen because of severity of consequences for workers, the estimated number of workers affected and the availability of prevention options.

They are:

  • Musculoskeletal disorders
  • Mental disorders
  • Cancers (including skin cancer)
  • Asthma
  • Contact dermatitis, and
  • Noise-induced hearing loss.

Safe Work Australia is undertaking or supporting research into the causes and controls for all the priority disorders.

In particular, Safe Work Australia supports the National Mesothelioma Registry and is working to reduce exposure to hazardous workplace substances.

All jurisdictions undertake activities to support improvements in preventing the priority disorders. More information about these can be found on the jurisdictions websites. These are also a focus of national compliance and enforcement activity by the Heads of Workplace Safety Authorities.

National resources and links


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