Workplace fatalities on the decline

THE Australian Safety and Compensation Council (ASCC) Chairman, Bill Scales AO, has recently announced the release of two reports on workplace fatalities.

THE Australian Safety and Compensation Council (ASCC) Chairman, Bill Scales AO, has recently announced the release of two reports on workplace fatalities.

The Notified Fatalities Statistical Report July 2007 to June 2008 provides the most recent information on work-related fatalities which are notified to occupational health and safety (OHS) authorities across Australia during the financial year.

Scales said that this report provides analysis of notified fatalities across Australia for the full financial year.

“There were 16 fewer notified worker fatalities in 2007-08 (131 worker fatalities) than in 2006-07 (147 worker fatalities), a decrease of 11 per cent,” he said.

“While this suggests that we are taking steps in the right direction to reduce work-related fatalities, every death in the workplace is still one death too many.”

Some other key findings of the report include:

. In 2007-08 there were 150 notified work-related fatalities (131 worker notified fatalities and 19 bystander notified fatalities). 137 of these fatalities were males.

. Four industries accounted for eight out of every ten notified work-related fatalities: construction (24 per cent), transport and storage (23 per cent), agriculture, forestry and fishing (18 per cent) and manufacturing (13 per cent).

Both reports are available for free download from the ASCC website at www.ascc.gov.au

. The most common causes of fatalities were vehicle accidents (44 fatalities), being hit by falling objects (23 fatalities), being hit by moving objects (21 fatalities), falls from a height (16 fatalities) and being trapped by moving machinery (12 fatalities).

. Construction workplaces recorded a consistently high number of notified worker fatalities over the period 2003-04 to 2006-07 (ranging from 18 in 2004-05 to 36 in 2007-08).

. There was a notable decrease in the number of notified worker fatalities in agriculture, forestry and fishery workplaces (42 fatalities in 2003-04 to 25 in 2007-08).

. There was a notable decrease in the number of notified worker fatalities in mining workplaces (4 fatalities in 2007-08 compared with 13 fatalities in 2006-07).

While the above report provides the most recent information on work-related injury fatalities, its coverage is not complete. In most states and territories, work-related fatalities which occur on public roads are notified to the police and are not included.

To provide a comprehensive picture of the number of people who died from injury due to work-related activity, the ASCC combines the information from the notified fatalities with workers’ compensation data and coronial information. The ASCC is also releasing the results of this analysis in the Work-related Traumatic Injury Fatalities, Australia, 2005-06 report.

“While the number of deaths that occurred while working for income increased by 5 per cent over the three year period, 2003-04 to 2005-06, the growth in employment resulted in a slight decrease in incidence rates, from 2.7 deaths per 100 000 employed persons in 2003-04 to 2.6 in 2005-06,” Scales said.

“Every injury or death in the workplace is one too many. We each have a responsibility for being safe at work, not just for ourselves but for the sake of our workmates and our families.”