Workers’ compensation data

Key workers' compensation statistics are available on the statistics page.

A detailed analysis of workers’ compensation claims for injuries or illnesses incurred while working can be found in Australian Workers’ Compensation Statistics. This report replaces the Compendium of Workers’ Compensation Statistics series. Data in these two reports are not comparable due to the use of a new definition for serious claims being introduced to align with the Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012-22. Under the new definition, serious claims are those which result in one or more weeks of compensation being paid for an injury or illness incurred at work. This does not include fatalities or injuries sustained while on a recess break where the employee leaves the workplace. Claims for injuries or illnesses incurred while on a journey to or from work are also not included in the definition of serious claims.

The Australian Workers’ Compensation Statistics report analyses the 125 000 serious claims lodged each year. It is estimated that this represents around one-quarter of all work-related injuries and illnesses incurred each year. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) estimated that 638 000 workers suffered a work-related injury or illness in 2009. Many of these workers did not seek compensation for their injury as they did not take time off work. Analysis of the ABS data can be found in the reports listed below. The ABS survey is run every four years.

Limitations of workers’ compensation data

Workers’ compensation statistics do not cover all occurrences of occupational injury and disease for the following reasons:

  • Workers’ compensation is only available to employees. Therefore injuries to self-employed workers are not contained in workers’ compensation statistics. Around 10% of Australian workers are self-employed.
  • Absences from work of less than one working week are not reported in the Australian Workers’ Compensation Statistics due to the different employers excesses that exist across Australia and the possibility that claims for injuries and illnesses below these excess periods are not reported to the workers’ compensation authorities around Australia.
  • While the majority of employees are covered for workers’ compensation under general Commonwealth, state and territory workers’ compensation legislation, some specific groups of workers are covered under separate legislation. Every effort has been made to compile data from all groups of employees but it is known that currently, claims lodged by police in Western Australia and military personnel within the Defence Forces are excluded.
  • Not all cases of occupational disease are reported in workers’ compensation statistics. This is because many diseases result from long-term exposure to agents or have a long latency period, making the link between the occupational disease and work more difficult to identify.

Other reports

An estimate of the proportion of work-related injuries that are claimed through workers’ compensation can be found at Comparison of compensation data with all incurred work-related injuries.

The reasons why some employees do not apply for compensation can be found at Factors affecting applications for workers’ compensation and in the report Work Related injuries in Australia: Who did and didn't receive workers compensation 2009-10.

View the Feature Article - Journey Claims, an article on compensated claims for journeys to and from work - (This is the feature article from the 2006-07 Compendium) View the Feature Article - Time Away From Work, an article analysing claims by time lost from work (This is the feature article from the 2005-06 Compendium)

Workers' Compensation: Classifications

National Data Set for Compensation-based Statistics (NDS)

The National Data Set for Compensation-based Statistics (NDS) is a standard set of data items, concepts and definitions for inclusion in workers’ compensation systems operating in Australia. The NDS has been implemented in workers’ compensation-based collections administered by state, territory and Australian government agencies to enable the production of national and nationally comparable workers’ compensation-based data.

The first edition of the NDS (NDS1) was published in April 1987 but is not available electronically. The first data produced under this system relate to the 1991–92 reference period. The second edition of the NDS (NDS2) which includes changes to the scope and some of the definitions and classifications was published in May 1999 with the first year of reporting being the 2000–01 reference period. Due to the changes to the scope, the data between these series are not comparable. Some minor amendments were incorporated into this document in June 2002 National Data Validation System (NDVS) Second Edition - Revision 1, June 2002.

A major review of the NDS was undertaken in 2004 to include additional data items. The National Data Set for Compensation-based Statistic 3rd edition has been progressively implemented into the Australian workers’ compensation system since 1 July 2005.

Technical Manual for the National Data Set for Compensation-Based Statistics has also been developed to assist data suppliers.

Types of Occurrence Classification System

The Type of Occurrence Classification System (TOOCS) was developed for use in coding details of workers' compensation cases reported to workers' compensation agencies. Employers may also use the System for coding workplace injury and disease occurrences. Separate codes are available within TOOCS for recording the nature, bodily location, mechanism, breakdown agency and agency of the injury or disease involved in the incident.

The first edition of TOOCS was published in December 1990 (not available electronically). The type of Occurrence Classification System, Second Edition - July 1999coincided with the introduction of NDS2 to be used from 2000-01. This was subsequently revised with Type of Occurrence Classification System, Second Edition - Revision 1 (2.1) May 2002 introduced from the 2002-03 reference period.

The third edition of TOOCS (TOOCS3) was developed to align with the International Classification of Diseases – 10th Revision, Australian Modified version. This edition is associated with the introduction of NDS3. Similar to NDS3, TOOCS3 has been progressively implemented into the Australian workers’ compensation system since 1 July 2005.

Some minor amendments were then made in May 2008 with the release called TOOCS3.1. See TOOCS3.1 Manual Updates - Summary Document for details of these changes.


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