Workers' compensation data

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

  • Temporary disability occupational injuries and diseases that result in absences from work of less than one working week are not always claimed as workers’ compensation;
  • Occupational injuries and diseases occurring on a journey to or from work (commuting claims) are not covered by all state and territory workers’ compensation schemes;
  • 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;
  • Most occupational injuries to the self-employed are excluded because such workers generally are not covered for workers’ compensation;
  • 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.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics estimated that 685 000 workers suffered a work-related injury or illness in 2005. Many of these workers did not seek compensation for their injury due to the injury being minor.

Data held by Safe Work Australia shows there are around 135 000 claims accepted each year involving one week or more off work, a permanent incapacity or fatality. This equates to 370 claims for serious injury per day. This figure does not include injuries sustained while travelling to or from work.

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.

A detailed analysis of workers’ compensation claims for injuries or illnesses incurred while working can be found in the Compendium of Workers’ Compensation Statistics.

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)

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