The Australian Safety and Compensation Council (ASCC) chairman, Mr Bill Scales AO, has released the report "Work-related traumatic injury fatalities, Australia, 2004 – 05", which shows that more than one in five (22%) workers to be killed on the job worked in the transport industry.
In October 2003 the National Occupational Health and Safety Commission, which was replaced by the ASCC, acknowledged that the National Data Set for Compensation Based Statistics (NDS) did not adequately enumerate deaths in all industries as it is based on workers’ compensation data which relates only to employees.
To address this, a project was established to combine information from the Notified Fatalities Collection (NFC), the National Coronial Information Service (NCIS) and the NDS to better enumerate work-related deaths due to injury. This report is the second in the series as a result of this project.
Key findings of the report include:
• 249 persons died from work-related injuries while working for income. (2.5 deaths per 100 000 employed persons). 20 of these deaths (8 per cent) involved women. The Agriculture, forestry and fishing industry accounted for 27% (67 deaths) of the deaths, followed by the Transport and storage industry with 22% (55 deaths).
• 150 of the 249 fatalities were caused by mobile plant and transport with 58 due to trucks, semi-trailers and lorries and 43 due to cars, station wagons, vans or utilities.
• The report identified an additional 98 employed persons who died from an injury incurred while travelling to or from work (1.0 death per 100 000), this number is known to be understated. In 65 per cent of cases, the deceased was a driver or passenger in a car or was hit by a car.
• In addition, the report identified 58 persons who were killed as a bystander to work activity, though this number is also thought to be understated. 11 of these bystanders were children under the age of 18.
It is important to note that the number of work-related deaths identified in this report cannot be compared to those published in the 2003–04 report due to the introduction of a number of improvements to the way work-related injury fatalities are identified. The ASCC is continuing to investigate ways of further enhancing the collection especially in the areas of commuting and bystander deaths which are known to be underreported.
The ASCC has also released the Notified Fatalities Statistical Report July 2007 to December 2007 and Occupational Disease Indicators, April 2008 report.
The Notified Fatalities Statistical Report July 2007 to December 2007 summarises notifications of fatalities that have occurred during the first part of the financial year from 1 July to 31 December 2007. The next in the series is an annual report which will provide a detailed analysis of notified fatalities that have occurred in the whole financial year.
The Notified Fatalities Statistical Report July 2007 to December 2007 shows that 72 notified work-related fatalities were reported to the ASCC by jurisdictional OHS authorities, of these 10 were bystander fatalities.
“It is pleasing to see that this is a slight improvement on the six-month figure reported for the previous financial year (1 July to 31 December 2006), which identified 78 work-related notified fatalities including 4 bystander fatalities,” Mr Scales said.
The Occupational Disease Indicators, April 2008 report provides information about the movement in the incidence of occupational disease. This report is the second in a series of biennial reports, the first of which was published in April 2006.
“The release of these reports serves as a reminder to all of us that workplace safety is a priority and that Commonwealth and state and territory jurisdictions should continue to work together in an effort to implement OHS best practice and obtain the most relevant data on work-related injury fatalities.
“One death in the workplace is one too many," Mr Scales said.
The Work-related traumatic injury fatalities, Australia, 2004 – 05, Notified Fatalities Statistical Report July 2007 to December 2007 and Occupational Disease Indicators, April 2008 report are available for download from the ASCC website at www.ascc.gov.au.