Donesafe News

SafeWork Australia report is optimistic, but we can’t stop there

A newly released SafeWork Australia report highlights workplace safety statistics in 2014-2015, and the data is largely reassuring.

What are the numbers? Which industries are the big winners?

The report states that “there is a long-term trend showing a reduction in the number of work-related fatalities and serious injury claims.” Since hitting a peak of 310 yearly fatalities in 2007, there has been a downward trend marked by a 39% reduction by 2014. The reduction in workplace fatalities is shared across all industrial sectors, with the steepest reductions in the healthcare, construction, and public administration fields.

How optimistic can we be?

Any major decrease in injury and fatality rate, especially one of such magnitude, is an optimistic indicator. On the other hand, we must not lose sight of the reality, which is that there have been 81 worker fatalities across all Australian industries since the beginning of 2016, only 8 less than this point last year. The decline is an improvement, but it should also be put into perspective–that perspective being the 2007 peak of 310 yearly on-the-job fatalities. If the goal is to make fatal workplace accidents truly rare, it’s important to acknowledge that this statistical successes is not an end, but a significant step.

What’s the damage?

The human and social cost of work-related injuries and fatalities is immeasurable; the actual financial cost is quite stunning. Even the current declining rate of incidents incurs a remarkable cost to employers, workers, and the national economy. The new report does not include updated statistics on the economic costs of workplace safety incidents. The most recent SafeWork data from 2012-13 indicate that the annual cost of workplace injury amounts to $61.8 billion, equivalent to about 4 percent of the GDP. During the same time period, the total cost of workers compensation claims borne by employers was $8.4 billion. However, roughly 74% of the cost of a workplace injury is still borne by the employee him/herself.

Where do we go from here?

As we inch as close as possible towards zero workplace safety incidents, it’s worth remembering the countless ways in which we can all prioritise safety. Ensuring worker safety is a coordinated effort, integrating employer initiatives, employee responsibility and government policy. One of our recent blog posts profiled several manufacturing industry leaders who are finding creative methods to inspire a culture of safety. If you missed it, you can find that here.

And as always, stay safe.

By Aja Cacan at

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