Every two days in Australia, someone will die from a work-related injury or illness.
Recent statistics show that 183 Australian workers died at work or because of work in that year. Queensland fatalities accounted for 41 of those deaths. Preliminary data shows a further 183 Australian workers were killed at work in 2020, and as of September 16 this year, that number is 84.
This year, for Safe Work Month, we’re asking employers and employees alike to take commit to building safe and health workplaces. No one should be unsafe at work, and everyone has the right to come home without injury.
What is Safe Work Month?
Safe Work Month is a campaign run by national policy agency responsible for workplace health and safety and workers' compensation scheme in Australia - Safe Work Australia. It's aim is to raise awareness of workplace health and safety with employers, employees and the community at large.
It takes place annually in October. This years' theme is Think safe. Work safe. Be safe.
Australian work-related fatality statistics
Queensland has for a long time been the second worst state in the country, behind NSW, for the number of worker fatalities each year despite a steady decrease in nationwide figures in the past decade.
The latest official data from SafeWork Australia shows that both Australia’s and Queensland’s work-related deaths increased in 2019 from the previous year. The Work-related Traumatic Injury Fatalities report published in late 2020 also shows that of the Australian toll, 177 were men and six were women.
The three industries that made up a combined 62 per cent of worker fatalities were the transport, postal and warehousing (58); agriculture, forestry and fishing (30); and construction (26) industries.
All occupations, except for labourers, reported increases in work-related deaths in 2019 from 2018. Most notably, machinery operators and drivers, in particular road and rail drivers, which increased to 60 from 37 in 2018. Farmers and farm manager deaths also increased to 23 in 2019 from 15 in 2018.
The most common causes were vehicle collisions (79), being hit by falling objects (21) and falling from height (21). For Queensland alone, the agriculture, forestry and fishing industry accounted for the highest number of worker fatalities over the five years to 2019.
But despite the year-on-year increase, overall, the number of worker fatalities has been trending downward since 2007, which recorded the highest number of work-related fatalities in Australia at 310. In fact, when comparing the number of fatalities in 2019 to the five-year average, six of the eight states and territories had lower or equal fatality rates.
In saying this, preliminary data for 2021 shows a 34 per cent decrease in worker fatalities than there was this time in 2020. These numbers would be drastically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dealing with a death in the family is no easy task. Knowing what to do or where to turn to can be difficult. Everyone grieves differently, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach.
If you need support, there are plenty grief services available. Some of these include: