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Work related injuries in the Workplace

There were 10.8 million people who had worked at some time in the 12 months to June 2006. Of these, 689,500 people or 6.4% experienced a work-related injury or illness . Almost two-thirds (63%) of injured workers were men. As there are more employed men than women, a higher number of injured men is expected. However, after taking this into account, it is clear that the difference was mostly due to their higher rate of injuries. During 2005-06, a higher proportion of men experienced a work-related injury compared with women (7.4% and 5.1% respectively). The greater tendency for men to work in hazardous occupations and industries is likely to explain much of this difference.

In 2005-06 the work-related injury rate was 64 per 1,000 employed people (74 per 1,000 employed men and 51 per 1,000 employed women). Graph 8.65 shows that younger men and women experienced higher rates of work-related injuries. People aged 15-19 years had the highest work-related injury rate, at 78 per 1,000 employed people (91 per 1,000 employed men and 65 per 1,000 employed women), with people aged 20-24 years having the second highest rate, at 75 per 1,000 employed people (98 per 1,000 employed men and 51 per 1,000 employed women). People aged 55 years and over recorded the lowest work-related injury rate, with 50 per 1,000 employed people.

Rate of Injury in the Workforce

Job characteristics of injured workers - Occupation

The occupation groups with the highest work-related injury rates in 2005-06 were those which were likely to involve physical labour. Intermediate production and transport workers had the highest injury rate (108 per 1,000 employed people), followed by Tradespersons and related workers (107 per 1,000 employed people) and Labourers and related workers (106 per 1,000 employed people). Injured workers in these three occupation groups accounted for 45% of all injured workers. However, these three groups account for only 29% of all employed people. Professionals experienced one of the lowest injury rates, with 43 per 1,000 employed people (table 8.66).

The highest work-related injury rates were experienced by men working as Labourers and related workers (117 per 1,000 employed men), followed by Intermediate production and transport workers (116 per 1,000 employed men). The highest injury rates for women were also experienced by those working as Labourers and related workers (87 per 1,000 employed women), followed by Elementary, sales and service workers (74 per 1,000 employed women).

More than a third (37%) of injured Intermediate production and transport workers and a quarter (25%) of injured Labourers and related workers experienced a sprain or strain as their most recent work-related injury. The most common injury experienced by Tradespersons and related workers was a cut or open wound (33%).

Males Females Persons
Managers and administrators 64.4 *45.3 58.8
Professionals 38.0 47.8 43.1
Associate professionals 56.2 54.1 55.3
Tradespersons and related workers 111.3 *66.6 106.7
Advanced clerical and service workers **33.9 *31.3 31.6
Intermediate clerical, sales and service workers 63.3 55.7 57.9
Intermediate production and transport workers 116.2 *52.3 108.1
Elementary clerical, sales and service workers 55.5 74.0 67.5
Labourers and related workers 116.7 87.1 106.0
* estimate has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution.
** estimate has a relative standard error greater than 50% and is considered too unreliable for general use.
(a) For any occupation group, the work-related injury rate is the number of injured workers divided by people currently employed in that occupation (in their main job).
(b) Classified according to the Australian Classification of Occupations (ASCO), Second Edition, 1997.

Job characteristics of injured workers - Industry

In 2005-06, the industries with the highest work-related injury rates were Agriculture, forestry and fishing (109 per 1,000 employed people) and Manufacturing (87 per 1,000 employed). The industries in which men experienced the highest injury rates were Agriculture, forestry and fishing (128 per 1,000 employed men), Personal and other service industries (101 per 1,000 employed men) and Manufacturing (98 per 1,000 employed men). Industries in which women experienced the highest injury rates were Accommodation, cafes and restaurants (98 per 1,000 employed women), Health and community services (71 per 1,000 employed women) and Retail trade (70 per 1,000 employed women) (table 8.67).

The types of injuries sustained by workers varied across industries. Sprains or strains represented the highest proportion of injuries for workers in the Agriculture, forestry and fishing (32%) and Manufacturing (27%) industries. Cuts or open wounds accounted for the highest proportion of injuries for workers in the Electricity, gas and water supply (52%) and Mining (42%) industries.

Males Females Persons
Agriculture, forestry and fishing 128.2 *62.9 108.8
Manufacturing 97.7 55.6 86.6
Retail trade 78.2 70.5 74.1
Accommodation, cafes and restaurants *51.7 97.9 76.5
Transport and storage 94.0 *54.3 84.7
Government administration and defence 83.0 59.8 71.9
Education *45.2 55.4 52.2
Health and community services 95.9 71.3 76.7
* estimate has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution.
(a) For any industry group, the work-related injury rate is the number of injured workers divided by the number of people currently employed in that industry (in their main job).
(b) Classified according to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC), 1993 edition.