Sprains and strains remain the most common forms of workplace injuries in Australia, according to data for 2017-18 just released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Of the 563,600 people who experienced a work-related injury or illness during the 12 months covered, sprain/strain was the most common injury sustained (28%), followed by chronic joint or muscle conditions (18%).
Unfortunately, the safe lifting message doesn’t appear to be getting through, as “lifting, pushing, pulling or bending” was still the most common cause of work related injury or illness, with 24% of people reporting it. And alarmingly, the second most prevalent cause with 18% of the injuries was “hitting or being hit or cut by an object or vehicle”.
Technicians and trades workers were the occupation groups with the highest rates of work-related injury or illness, with 72 per 1000. Machinery operators and drivers and labourers also fared poorly with 57 per 1000. And while construction was the industry with the highest work-related injury or illness (59 per 1000), the manufacturing sector was very close behind with 58 per 1000 employed.
Interestingly, of the 563,600 people who did experience a work-related injury in the last 12 months, more than half received some form of financial assistance. However, of these, only 52% received workers compensation. (45% did not apply for workers compensation and 3% applied for workers compensation but didn’t get it). This means that the number of people who received workers compensation as a proportion of the total number of people who experienced a work-related injury or illness fell 35% (183,200) in 2013-14 to 27% (154,300) in 2017-18.
However, we do still appear to have the Australian ethos of “soldiering on”. Of the 563,600 people who experienced a work-related injury or illness, 221,500 (or 40%) took no time off work.