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Our research and evaluation work contributes to the developing the evidence base needed to inform national WHS policy, programs and practice.

Research and evaluation leads to better work health and safety

Our national research programs provide information about Australia’s WHS performance including:

  • numbers and rates of workplace deaths, injuries and illnesses and their trends
  • causes of injuries and fatalities
  • workers’ exposure to workplace hazards and risks
  • management of hazards and risks including the provision, use and effectiveness of control measures
  • workplace culture and WHS behaviours
  • attitudes towards WHS
  • the effectiveness of the Australian regulatory framework.

Strategic outcomes

National activities will support the following outcomes:

  • Research and evaluation are targeted to provide the evidence to prioritise and progress areas of national interest.
  • Australia has an effective research and evaluation infrastructure and capacity.
  • Evidence is translated to assist practical application.
  • The results of research and evaluation are disseminated and implemented.

Examples of national activities

Research, evaluation and data programs

Two distinct but complementary programs of work we carry out are informing the development of WHS and workers’ compensation policies and directions. Our data program focuses on outcomes—specifically on the incidence and causes of injury, fatality and disease and the economic cost.

The Research and Evaluation Program focuses on four areas:

  • hazard surveillance and risk management
  • occupational disease
  • attitudes to work health and safety
  • evaluation of interventions.

Research, evaluation and data activities concentrate on measuring performance using established datasets as well as developing new indicators and undertaking data collections. Activities are set out in the annual Evidence work plan, which is approved by Safe Work Australia Members.

Measuring performance

Two types of data are used to measure the performance of both WHS and workers’ compensation policy: administrative data (for example workers’ compensation data) and survey and study data collected by us and others.

We work collaboratively with Commonwealth, state and territory governments and other organisations such as the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the Australian Cancer Council, the Cancer Institute New South Wales, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, and the National Coronial Information System to produce a wide range of national reports.

We also carry out or work with others on research and evaluation projects to collect new data to highlight issues of concern and to measure the performance of policies and government initiatives such harmonising WHS legislation.

Our national approach

The Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012–2022 has identified research and evaluation as a priority area for strengthening risk controls in workplaces.

  • The Strategy aims to reduce the incidence of serious injury by at least 30% nationwide by 2022, and reduce the number of work-related fatalities due to injury by at least 20%.

Since the Strategy launched, Safe Work Australia and all jurisdictions have been working collaboratively with the industry, unions, relevant organisations and the community to reduce traumatic injury fatalities and injuries in the construction industry.

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