What is OHS?

"Australian law must ensure healthy and safe workplaces and a compensation and rehabilitation system which ensures that no worker is disadvantaged should they be injured at work" - Union Charter of Workplace Rights*

Occupational health and safety is concerned with protecting the safety, health and welfare of people engaged in work or employment.

The enjoyment of these standards at the highest levels is a basic human right that should be accessible by each and every worker.

Regardless of the nature of their work, workers should be able to carry out their responsibilities in a safe and secure working environment, free from hazards.

These rights are set out in legislation to ensure that employers are clear about the obligations and the consequences for neglecting them.

*Click here to view Union Charter of Workplace Rights

The facts:

  • Workplace injury and disease destroys quality of life, social and family activities, affects job prospects and career advancement
  • An Australian worker is seriously injured every 2-3 minutes
  • In 2009/10, 567 500 workers were injured while at work but only 38% received workers' compensation
  • It is estimated that around 7000 deaths each year are related to work-related diseases. This is four times the annual national road toll

Who Pays?

Workplace injuries, diseases and fatalities, in 2008-09 financial year, were estimated to cost the economy around $60.6 billion in forgone economic activity, or 4.8 per cent of Australia’s total GDP. Previous Safe Work Australia reports estimated the costs to the economy to be:

1992 - 1993$20 Billion2005-2006$57.5 Billion or 5.9% GDP
2000 - 2001$34.3 Billion or 5% GDP2008-2009$60.6 Billion or 4.8% GDP

Safe Work Australia has identified that: 5% of total costs are borne by employers, 74% by workers and 21% by the community. The emerging trend over the last three reports is that an increasing proportion of costs are borne by workers and decreasing proportion of costs are borne by the community.

Australian Unions continue to call for an inquiry to ascertain the true extent of cost shifting by workers' compensation schemes onto injured workers and government services - including the public health and social security systems.