Key work health and safety statistics, Australia 2021

Key Work Health and Safety Statistics, Australia 2021 provides an overview of the latest national data on work-related fatalities and workers’ compensation claims. 

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This includes trends, gender and age comparisons, and industry and occupation breakdowns for work health and safety and serious workers’ compensation claims in Australia.

The costs of work-related injuries and diseases are not included in Key Work Health and Safety Statistics, Australia 2021.

 

Work-related injury fatalities

Safe Work Australia compiles the Work-related Traumatic Injury Fatalities data set which provides national statistics on all workers and bystanders fatally injured at work. This data draws on a range of information sources, including: 

  • initial reporting of fatalities in the media or on relevant authority websites such as police, road authorities and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau 
  • notifications to Safe Work Australia from the jurisdictional authorities, and 
  • the National Coronial Information System which provides confidential access to coroners’, police and other investigative reports. 

Work-related fatalities resulting from diseases, natural causes and suicides are excluded. Further explanatory notes on the data can be found in the Explanatory notes for Safe Work Australia datasets.

This document provides statistics about people who die from an injury sustained in the course of a work activity (worker fatalities) in Australian territories or territorial seas.

Trends in worker fatalities, 2003 to 2020

Trends in worker fatalities, 2003 to 2020 image

Worker fatalities by gender, 2020

Worker fatalities by gender, 2020 image

Worker fatalities by age group, 2020

Worker fatalities by age group, 2020
Age group (years) Number of fatalities Fatality rate (fatalities per 100,000 workers)
Under 25 8 0.4
25-34 30 1.0
35-44 34 1.2
45-54 36 1.4
55-64 55 2.9
65 and over 31 5.3
Total 194 1.5

Worker fatalities by state/territory, 2020*

*fatalities are presented according to the state or territory where the fatality occurred, not the jurisdiction under which the fatality fell.

Worker fatalities by state/territory, 2020 image

Worker fatalities by mechanism of incident, 2020

Worker fatalities by mechanism of incident, 2020 image

Note:

  • only mechanisms accounting for 5% or more of fatalities are included.  The remaining mechanisms are grouped together under other mechanisms.  
  • the percentages shown in this table have been rounded to the nearest whole number; therefore the sum of percentage figures for each column may not equal the total.
Worker fatalities by mechanism of incident, 2020
Mechanism of incident Number of fatalities % of fatalities
Vehicle collision* 80 41%
Being hit by moving objects 25 13%
Falls from a height   22 11%
Being hit by falling objects 17 9%
Being trapped by moving machinery 13 7%
Being trapped between stationary and moving objects 11 6%
Other mechanisms 26 13%
Total 194 100%

*vehicle collisions include fatalities that occurred as a direct result of a vehicle crash. Vehicles include not only road vehicles such as cars and trucks, but also machines such as aircraft, boats, loaders, tractors and quad bikes.

Worker fatalities by occupation, 2020

Worker fatalities by occupation, 2020 image

Worker fatalities by occupation, 2020
Occupation Number of fatalities Fatality rate (fatalities per 100,000 workers)
Machinery operators and drivers 67 8.4
Labourers 41 3.5
Managers 35 2.2
Technicians and trades workers 26 1.5
Community and personal service workers 11 0.8
Professionals 11 0.3
Sales workers 2 0.2
Clerical and administrative workers 1 0.2
Total 194 1.5

Worker fatalities by industry, 2020

Worker fatalities by industry, 2020 image

Worker fatalities by industry, 2020
Industry of employer Number of fatalities Fatality rate (fatalities per 100,000 workers)
Agriculture, forestry and fishing 46 13.1
Transport, postal and warehousing 49 7.8
Construction 36 3.1
Manufacturing 19 2.2
Mining 5 2.1
Electricity, gas, water and waste services 3 2.0
Administrative and support services 6 1.4
Public administration and safety 10 1.1
Rental, hiring and real estate services 2 0.9
Other services 3 0.7
Wholesale trade 2 0.5
Arts and recreation services 1 0.5
Professional, scientific and technical services 5 0.4
Accommodation and food services 2 0.3
Education and training 2 0.2
Retail trade 2 0.2
Health care and social assistance 1 0.1
Financial and insurance services 0 0
Information media and telecommunications 0 0
Total 194 1.5

Work-related injury and disease

Safe Work Australian compiles the National Dataset for Compensation-based Statistics (NDS) which comprises information on workers’ compensation claims provided by each of the jurisdictional workers’ compensation authorities. 

Data in this report refers to serious claims only.  Serious claims include all accepted workers’ compensation claims for an incapacity that results in a total absence from work of one working week or more, excluding fatalities and journey claims. Data for 2019-20 are preliminary (denoted by a ‘p’) and subject to revision in future years as further claims are finalised. Further explanatory notes on the data can be found in the National data set for compensation-based statistics for Safe Work Australia.

Serious claims statistics, 2019-20p*

Serious claims statistics, 2019-20p image

*preliminary data subject to revision in future years as further claims are finalised.

** the median includes serious claims where the payment made was greater than zero.

Serious claim rate, 2000-01 to 2019-20*

Serious claim rate, 2000-01 to 2019-20* image

*preliminary data subject to revision in future years as further claims are finalised.

Serious claims by gender, 2019-20p*

Serious claims by gender, 2019-20p image

Serious claims by gender, 2019-20p*
Gender Number of serious claims Frequency rate (serious claims per million hours worked) Incidence rate (serious claims per thousand employees)
Female 44,982 5.4 7.6
Male 75,240 6.6 12.0
Total 120,355 6.1 9.9

*preliminary data subject to revision in future years as further claims are finalised.

** the median includes serious claims where the payment made was greater than zero.

Serious claims by age group, 2019-20p*

Serious claims by age group, 2019-20p image

Serious claims by age group, 2019-20p*
Age group (years) Number of serious claims Frequency rate (serious claims per million hours worked) Incidence rate (serious claims per thousand employees)
Under 20 3,981 6.9 6.0
20-24 11,155 6.3 8.9
25-29 12,974 5.2 8.7
30-34 12,265 4.9 8.2
35-39 11.901 5.0 8.5
40-44 11,882 5.4 9.5
45-49 14,458 6.2 11.1
50-54 14,515 7.2 12.6
55-59 14,163 8.3 13.9
60-64 9,243 8.6 13.3
65 and over 3,815 6.6 8.5
Total 120,355 6.1 9.9

*preliminary data subject to revision in future years as further claims are finalised.

Serious claims by mechanism of incident, 2019-20p*

Serious claims by mechanism of incident, 2019-20p* image

Serious claims by mechanism of incident, 2019-20p*
Mechanism of incident Number of serious claims % of serious claims
Female Male Total Female Male Total
Body stressing 16,412 27,970 44,420 36% 37% 37%
Falls, trips and slips of a person 11,574 16,213 27,819 26% 22% 23%
Being hit by moving objects 5,988 13,402 19,417 13% 18% 16%
Mental stress 5,877 4,200 10,084 13% 6% 8%
Hitting objects with a part of the body 1,964 6,734 8,713 4% 9% 7%
Other mechanisms of incident** 1,532 2,950 4,489 3% 4% 4%
Vehicle collisions*** 710 1,930 2,640 2% 3% 2%
Heat, electricity and other environmental factors 618 1,054 1,679 1% 1% 1%
Chemicals and other substances 306 787 1,097 1% 1% 1%
Total 44,982 75,240 120,355 100% 100% 100%

*preliminary data subject to revision in future years as further claims are finalised.
**other mechanisms of incident include biological factors, sound and pressure, other multiple mechanisms of incident, roll over, slide or cave-in and unspecified mechanisms of incident.
***vehicle collisions include claims where the injury was the direct result of a vehicle crash. Vehicles include not only road vehicles such as cars and trucks, but also machines such as aircraft, boats, loaders, tractors and quad bikes.

Serious claims by nature of injury/disease, 2019-20p

Serious claims by nature of injury/disease, 2019-20p image

Serious claims by nature of injury/disease, 2019-20p
Mechanism of incident Number of serious claims % of serious claims
Female Male Total Female Male Total
Traumatic joint/ligament and muscle/tendon injury 17,698 27,541 45,285 39% 37% 38%
Musculoskeletal and connective tissue diseases 8,550 13,029 21,605 19% 17% 18%
Wounds, lacerations, amputations and internal organ damage 4,689 14,008 18,729 10% 19% 16%
Fractures 4,275 8,657 12,942 10% 12% 11%
Mental health conditions 6,217 4,552 10,776 14% 6% 9%
Other injuries 1,018 1,811 2,832 2% 2% 2%
Digestive system diseases 135 1,956 2,091 0% 3% 2%
Burns 620 1,194 1,821 1% 2% 2%
Nervous system and sense organ diseases 577 732 1,311 1% 1% 1%
Intracranial injuries 507 588 1,096 1% 1% 1%
Total 44,982 75,240 120,355 100% 100% 100%

*preliminary data subject to revision in future years as further claims are finalised.
**other injuries include those related to poisoning, electrocution, air pressure, weather conditions, unspecified injuries and injuries not classified elsewhere. 
***injuries or diseases accounting for less than 1% of serious claims are not included separately, but are included in the total.

Serious claims by bodily location of injury, 2019-20p*

Serious claims by bodily location of injury, 2019-20p image

Serious claims by bodily location of injury, 2019-20p*
Bodily location of injury/disease Number of serious claims % of serious claims
Arms/upper limbs 29,680 25%
Lower limbs 27,742 23%
Back 21,842 18%
Neck and shoulder 15,510 13%
Non-physical locations 10,766 9%
Chest/Abdomen 4,983 4%
Other locations** 4,746 4%
Head 4,539 4%
Total*** 120,355 100%

*preliminary data subject to revision in future years as further claims are finalised.
**other locations include multiple locations, systemic locations, and trunk excluding chest and abdomen
***claims where the bodily location was unknown are not included separately, but are included in the total. 

Serious claims by occupation, 2019-20p*

Serious claims by occupation, 2019-20p image

Serious claims by occupation, 2019-20p*
Occupation Number of serious claims Frequency rate (serious claims per million hours worked) Incidence rate (serious claims per thousand employees)
Labourers 28,360 18.1 24.9
Community and personal service workers 23,405 13.9 17.3
Machinery operators and drivers 16,446 11.4 21.3
Technicians and trades workers 22,454 7.9 14.6
Sales workers 5,205 3.8 4.8
Professionals 11,699 2.2 3.8
Managers 5,935 2.1 4.2
Clerical and administrative workers 5,193 1.9 3.0
Total 120,355 6.1 9.9

*preliminary data subject to revision in future years as further claims are finalised.
**claims where the occupation was unknown are not included separately, but are included in the total. 

Serious claims by industry, 2019-20p*

Serious claims by industry, 2019-20p image

Serious claims by industry, 2019-20p*
Industry Number of serious claims Frequency rate (serious claims per million hours worked) Incidence rate (serious claims per thousand employees)
Agriculture, forestry and fishing 3,893 9.6 18.6
Manufacturing 14,014 9.1 16.7
Transport, postal and warehousing 9,190 8.9 16.2
Health care and social assistance 21,603 8.6 12.3
Construction 15,567 8.5 16.3
Arts and recreation services 2,193 8.0 10.1
Wholesale trade 5,144 7.4 13.5
Public administration and safety 9,620 6.9 11.4
Administrative and support services 5,120 6.8 10.5
Accommodation and food services 6,309 6.3 7.4
Other services 3,336 5.2 8.4
Retail trade 8,589 5.1 7.0
Mining 2,555 5.1 10.9
Education and training 7,396 4.3 6.7
Electricity, gas, water and waste services 1,105 3.8 7.2
Rental, hiring and real estate services 1,150 3.3 5.6
Information media and telecommunications 489 1.4 2.4
Professional, scientific and technical services 2,263 1.2 2.2
Financial and insurance services 695 0.8 1.5
Total 120,355 6.1 9.9

*preliminary data subject to revision in future years as further claims are finalised.
**other industries include all other industries excluding the top seven industries by number of serious claims.
NB: For some claims information about age, sex, industry and occupation is not available. Stated totals may therefore differ from the sums of rows or columns.
 

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Disease and injury data
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