Occupational Health & Safety

Work Fatalities in Australia Fall to 8-Year Low

The 2010-2011 total of 374 occupational fatalities there is equal to 8 percent of the 4,690 fatalities recorded in the United States in 2010, according to BLS.

Safe Work Australia reports 374 workers died in that country from a workplace traumatic injury in 2010-2011, the lowest annual number recorded in Australia in eight years. The Work-related Traumatic Injury Fatalities, Australia 2010–11 report said 220 of these 374 workers (59 percent) died from injuries incurred at work, 110 workers (29 percent) died from an incident while travelling to or from work, and 44 (12 percent) died as a bystander to someone else's work activity.

By contrast, BLS reported the preliminary count of fatal work injuries in the United States in 2011 was 4,609, down slightly from the final total of 4,690 deaths during 2010.

"There has been significant reduction in the number of worker deaths since Safe Work Australia first began collecting these data in 2003-04. However, more can still be done to improve work health and safety," Safe Work Australia Chair Tom Phillips said. "While the worker fatality rate of 1.93 deaths per 100 000 workers is at the lowest it has been in many years, a single death is still one too many."

Key findings in the report included these:

  • Two-thirds of the work-related fatalities in 2010-11 involved vehicles, and more than 25 percent of the employees who died were working in or around a truck. (BLS also breaks out transportation-related U.S. occupational fatalities, which totaled 1,898 -- 41 percent -- of the estimated 4,609 in 2011.)
  • Australian workers ages 65 years and over had the highest fatality rate: 10.54 deaths per 100,000 workers, which was nearly six times the rate of for all workers.
  • The lowest rate was for workers younger than 25: 0.88 deaths per 100,000 workers in this age group.
  • Agriculture, forestry, and fishing had the highest number of fatalities with 60 deaths in 2010–11, followed by the transport, postal and warehousing industry with 42 deaths and the construction industry with 39.

"I encourage all working Australians to continue to make improvements to health and safety in their workplace," Phillips said. "Our nation's 10-year strategy to drive work health and safety improvements in Australia, the Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012–2022, sets the vision of healthy, safe and productive working lives. Let's all work together to help achieve this vision and ensure the rates in next year's work-related traumatic fatalities report are even lower."

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