Australian Report Confirms Higher Injury Rates for Temp Workers

Safe Work Australia funded the research and released the report July 30.

A new Australian report found work-related injuries were 50 percent higher in 2009-10 among temporary workers –- the term for them is casual workers in Australia –- than the rate among full-time workers. Female casual workers also had a higher injury rate than males in that category, according to the report. The research behind the report was funded by Safe Work Australia, which posted the document July 30.

It is based on analysis of almost 640,000 work-related injury reports in 2009-10. Males' injuries were 19 percent lower than the number reported in 2005-06, but the number for females was 11 percent higher. The rate for casual workers was 54 injuries per million hours worked compared with a rate of 35 for non-casual workers. Shift workers and part-time workers also had higher rates of injury. According to Safe Work Australia, half of all female workers worked part time in 2009-10, and for each hour worked, females had a 28 percent higher risk of injury than did male workers.

High injury rates were recorded in the hospitality and food services industries.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions reports more than 2 million Australians are casual workers, and 40 percent of them are younger than 25. ACTU President Ged Kearney responded to the report by saying it makes no economic sense to continue to let casual workers fall through the cracks and fall out of the workforce completely.

"The fear, vulnerability, and powerlessness experienced by workers engaged in insecure work mean they are less likely to raise health and safety concerns, they accept poor conditions and exploitation, and therefore face greater risks of injuries and illness," she said. "We are also not surprised at the findings that women are more likely to be injured at work than men, with women much more likely to be in casual employment. Women account for 55 percent of the casual workforce and 25.5 percent of all female employees are casual compared to 19.7 percent of males."

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