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Work-related deaths 'lowest number in 11 years'

16 July, 2014

Australian workplaces have recorded the lowest number of fatalities in 11 years, according to data released earlier this week (15 July) in the report "Work-related Traumatic Fatalities".

The annual report by Safe Work Australia found 191 workers died from injuries received at work in 2013.

Distressingly, the fatality rate for self-employed workers (4.39 deaths per 1000 000 self-employed workers) was three times higher than the fatality rate for employees (1.31). This is partly due to the high fatality rates in the agriculture, forestry and fishing, transport, postal and warehousing industries, both of which also have a higher than average proportion of self-employed workers.

In releasing the report Safe Work Australia's Acting Chief Executive Officer, Michelle Baxter urged all workers, whether employed by a business or self-employed, to make work health and safety a priority.

"While we have seen a 16 per cent reduction in work-related deaths since 2012 (228), this does not mean workers should become complacent about reducing and eliminating risks while working," Baxter said.

"In particular it is alarming to see the fatality rate for self-employed workers is so much higher than for employees.

"This report serves as a reminder that self-employed workers still have the same legal requirements as an employer to ensure their own health and safety is maintained while at work, as well as the safety of people entering their workplace.

"Even if a worker is conducting a business in their own right, they should not ignore their own health and safety."

Other key findings from the report:

  • The decrease in the number of work-related deaths from previous years can be attributed to fewer crashes on public roads, particularly involving workers in cars.
  • The worker fatality rate in 2013 was 1.64 fatalities per 100 000 workers. Male workers had a fatality rate of 2.80 while female workers had a rate of 0.28.
  • Over the 11 years of the series, one-third of workers who were killed while working died in vehicle collisions on public roads, one-third in vehicle incidents at workplaces and the remaining one-third of fatalities did not involve a vehicle.
  • The Agriculture, forestry and fishing industry recorded the highest number of fatalities in 2013 (48) followed by the Transport, postal and warehousing (46), and Construction (19) industries.
  • 66 members of the public died as bystanders to someone else's work activity in 2013.

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