Work-related injuries, illnesses and deaths impose costs on employers, workers and the community. These include both direct costs and indirect costs:

  • Direct costs include items such as workers’ compensation premiums paid by employers or payments to injured or incapacitated workers from workers’ compensation jurisdictions.
  • Indirect costs include items such as lost productivity, loss of current and future earnings, lost potential output and the cost of providing social welfare programs for injured or incapacitated workers.
  • The level of costs borne by each economic agent varies with the severity of the injury or disease. While measures of direct costs are understood and reasonably simple to measure, these costs cover only a fraction of the total cost of work-related injury and disease.

Our report The Cost of Work-related Injury and Illness for Australian Employers, Workers and the Community: 2012–13 provides updated estimates of the cost of work-related injury and disease to the Australian economy, based on methodology developed by the National Occupational Health and Safety Commission in 2004.

In 2012–13, work-related injury and disease cost the Australian economy $61.8 billion, representing 4.1% of GDP.

  • The majority of the cost (95%) was borne by individuals and society.
    • Workers bore 77%, the community 18% and employers 5%.
  • Injuries accounted for $28 billion (45%) of the cost.

Table 2.2 of the report summarises the total cost and average cost for work-related injury and illness in 2012–13 by the economic agent bearing the cost.

Table 2.2: Total cost ($ billion) and average cost ($ per work-related incident) for work-related injury and illness, Australia, 2012–13





Total Cost ($ billion)

Unit cost ($ per incident)

Total Cost ($ billion)

Unit cost ($ per incident)

Total Cost ($ billion)

Unit cost ($ per incident)





























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