15 March 2024 posted by Recovery Partners

Recovery Partners were proud to host an event all about Navigating Workplace Safety Excellence on Thursday 14 March 2024, featuring a presentation from Safe Work Australia.  

 We were joined by Phil Wise, Director of Safe Work Australia in the Data Improvement and Analysis Section as well as Jackson Micallef, Senior Data Analyst in the Data Improvement and Analysis Section.  

 Below are a number of takeaways from the session. You can also view the recording.  

  • There are still too many injuries and illnesses arising from work
    – Over the past 10 years there have been more than 1850 traumatic injury fatalities in Australian workplaces 
    – Over 1,140,000 workers have made a serious workers’ compensation claims involving more than one week of working time lost 
    – Each year just under 200 workers are killed by work-related injuries or illnesses 
    – 120,000 are compensated for work-related injuries or illnesses 
  • The vision is for safe and healthy work for all 
  • The goal is reduced worker fatalities, injuries and illnesses 
  • If we avoided all work-related injuries and illnesses, each year Australia’s economy would: 
    – Grow by $28.6 billion 
    – Create 185,000 additional full-time equivalent jobs 
    – Workers across all occupations and skill levels would benefit from an average wage rise of 1.3% 
  • We can’t be complacent, shifting economic, social, and environmental trends require evolving and iterative approaches to achieve our vision into the future 
  • Safe Work Australia have eight specific targets for measuring progress against the overall goal of reduced worker fatalities, injuries and illnesses 
    1. A reduction in the number of worker fatalities caused by traumatic injuries of at least 30 per cent 
    2. A reduction in the frequency rate of serious claims resulting in one or more weeks off work of at least 20 percent 
    3. A reduction in the frequency of permanent impairment by 15% 
    4. A reduction in the overall incidence of work-related injury or illness among workers to below 3.5 percent 
    5. No new cases of accelerated silicosis by 2023
    6. A reduction in the frequency rate of work-related respiratory disease by 20 percent 
    7. All Safe Work Australia Members take action to increase the awareness of PCBU’s about their duty to protect workers from exposure to harmful substances coinciding with the introduction of new workplace exposure standards 
    8. All Safe Work Australia Members take action to build the capability of PCBU’s regulators and workers to comply with their duty to manage psychosocial hazards at work 
  • In 2022, there were 195 worker fatalities due to traumatic injuries sustained in the course of a work-related activity 
    – Each year, just under 200 workers are killed by a work-related injury or illness 
  • On average between three to four workers are killed each week from traumatic injuries 
  • The current fatality rate (the three year average number of fatalities per 100,000 workers) in Australia is 1.4 
  • Decreasing the worker fatality rate by a further 30% (to 1.0 death per 100,000 workers) will bring us in line with the best performing countries and to be historically low level. 
  • There are high rates of fatalities in Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing activities, transportation and storage activities in comparison to other countries (presumedly due to a proportionally larger agricultural industry in Australia) 
  • We need to target these areas and improve safe work practices with preventative actions 
  • There was an average of 125,000 serious claims over 3 years 2021-2022 (average of 6.3 serious claims per million hours worked) – the target for the year 2031-32 is a 20% reduction and a frequency rate of 5.1 serious claims per million hours worked 
  • The industries with the highest frequency rates in 2021-22 were Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing (10.4), Manufacturing (9.2), and Health Care and Social Assistance (9.1). 
  • These three industries accounted for 33.2% of serious claims in 2021-22 despite representing only 24.3% of workers 
  • Other large employing industries with high frequency rates include Construction (1.3 million workers, frequency rate of 8.9), Manufacturing (931,400 workers, frequency rate of 9.2), and Public Administration and Safety (937,900 workers, frequency rate of 8.1) 
  • Data suggests that the Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing industry has the highest workers compensation claims 
  • WHS is critical to Australia’s prosperity 
  • As there are changes in our social, economic and environmental landscape and in technology, it is important to be innovative 
  • Being aware of the challenges ahead of us and thinking constructively and collaboratively will be the key to change   
  • There is still a low understanding of psychosocial hazards and what the term ‘psychosocial’ means. We need to improve education in this area and continue to implement strategies in our workplaces to not only be compliant with the current standard but meet the needs of our employees. 
  • If we don’t understand the rules and regulations we are putting our workers in harm’s way and not keeping our businesses compliant 
  • There is a need to redouble the previous efforts taken in reducing injuries and illnesses arising from work as the previous downward trend has stalled 
  • Long term health and chronic conditions are highly prevalent in the Australian population with eight in 10  (81.4%) people indicating that they had at least one long-term health condition and one in two (49.9%) people indicating they had at least one chronic condition in 2022. 
  • To meet the target of a 15% reduction over the course of the strategy, the frequency rate would have to fall to 0.66 permanent impairment claims per million hours worked by 2031-32 which would represent a historically low level 
  • New technologies have been changing how, where and when people work, enabling safer practices for some types of high risk work 
  • Work health and safety vulnerability is a  key focus area of the Australian Work Health and Strategy 2023-2033 – how work health inequalities impact on different population cohorts and affect their ability to participate fully and safely in the labour market. 
  • Research revealed that respiratory diseases accounted for the highest proportion of work-related deaths (46%) attributed to hazardous substances including dust, vapours and fumes around the world 
  • The rapid re-emergence of silicosis in an accelerated form, significantly amongst those that work with engineered stone, is a large concern to SWA and jurisdictional WHS regulators 
  • The main action targets are: 
  • Embed good WHS practices across the board 
  • Innovate and deepen knowledge of WHS 
  • Collaborate collectively and cooperatively to respond to WHS challenges 
  • Increase the awareness of PCBU’s and their duty to protect workers from exposure to harmful substances 
  • Build the capability of the PCBU’s, regulators and workers to ensure compliance with the duty to manage psychosocial hazards at work  

How Recovery Partners can help 

Recovery Partners have been delivering comprehensive safety and wellbeing services since 20024. We have a clear objective to reduce the human and financial costs of worker injuries and illnesses. 

5 of 368

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/