27 December 2019 posted by Recovery Partners

As well as these statistics, the report provides data on the industries in which these incidents occur, causation factors, and other demographic information like the age and gender of the workers involved. Combined, these data sets paint a comprehensive picture of the work-related traumatic injury fatalities in Australia.

Here are some of the key findings and statistics:

Total fatalities and fatality rate

Possibly the most notable finding from the report is that worker fatalities are declining, with 144 worker fatalities in 2018 due to injuries sustained in the course of work-related activity. Safe Work Australia began compiling this information in 2003, and the number of fatalities peaked four years later with 310 fatalities recorded in 2007. After this point, fatalities and the fatality rate began to decline.

The fatality rate refers to the number of fatalities per 100,000 workers. The 2018 fatality rate was 1.1, the lowest since 2003 when the first report was generated. This figure shows a fall from 1.5 (fatalities per 100 000 workers) in 2017, and a significant drop (62%) since the 2007 peak of 3.0 fatalities per 100 000 workers was recorded.

Of the 144 total worker fatalities in 2018, 8 were female and 136 were male.


Safe Work Australia identified a number of industries as priority areas. These are industries that have high numbers and rates of fatalities and/or injuries or involve hazardous work. Some of the industries listed (such as Manufacturing, Accommodation and Food Services, Health Care and Social Assistance, and Public Administration and Safety) actually have low fatality rates but high non-fatal injury rates. Accordingly, the priority industries are as follows:

  • Agriculture
  • Road Transport
  • Manufacturing
  • Construction
  • Accommodation and Food Services
  • Public Administration and Safety, and
  • Health Care and Social Assistance

The Agriculture, Road Transport and Construction industries were the three main areas in which fatalities occurred, with 69% of all fatalities occurring in these industries. According to Safe Work Australia, the large share of fatalities in these industries cannot be attributed to their size. This suggests that the nature/conditions/environment of the work is responsible for the disproportionately high number of fatalities in these areas.

  • Agriculture
    The agriculture industry (including forestry and fishing) had 37 worker fatalities in 2018. Within this number, 28% of worker fatalities were caused by vehicle collisions, 16% were caused by workers being hit by moving objects, and 10% were caused by falls from a height.
  • Road Transport
    The road transport industry (including postal and warehousing) had 38 worker fatalities in 2018.
    The majority of these fatalities were due to vehicle collisions, followed by workers being hit by moving objects.
  • Construction
    The construction industry had 24 worker fatalities in 2018. The main cause of these fatalities was falls from a height (buildings or ladders), followed by workers being hit by falling objects, followed by vehicle collisions.
  • Vehicles: the common thread
    Overall, 62% of the worker fatalities in 2018 were related to vehicles, with 89 out of the 144 total fatalities attributed to this.

Occupation of workers

In 2018, workers in the following occupations were killed:

  • 51 Machinery operators and drivers (35% of all fatalities)
  • 36 Labourers (25% of all fatalities), including farm, forestry and garden workers
  • 27 Technicians and Tradespeople (19% of all fatalities)
  • 16 Managers (11% of all fatalities).


62 bystanders were killed as a result of the actions of another worker or a fault in a workplace in 2018. Of this number, 77% were due to a vehicle collision and 16% were due to a worker being hit by a moving object.

All data included in this article is drawn from the Safe Work Australia’s  Work-related Traumatic Injury Fatalities Australia 2018  


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Disclaimer – these articles are provided to supply general safety information to people responsible for OHS in their organisation. They are general in nature and do not substitute for legal and/or professional advice. We always suggest that organisations obtain information specific to their needs. Additional information can be found at https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/