Workplaces with elected health and safety representatives have an injury and illness rate well below those without elected HSRs.

Safe Work Australia data shows that 11.3 million persons were employed in Australia in 2010/11. In order of size: retail, health and community services and property and business services alone employed nearly 40% of the total Australian workforce or nearly 4.4 million workers.(More)

Injuries & Diseases

In 2010/11 Agriculture, forestry & fishing, closely followed by manufacturing, transport and storage accounted for 34% of all employees in Australia and nearly 51% of all serious claims.

Generally, three quarters of all serious claims were as a result of injury with sprain and strains accounting for nearly 42% of all serious injuries. The most common disease claims involved disorders of muscle, tendon and other soft tissue (6% of all serious claims). Manual handling accounted resulted in 32% and falls for 20% of all serious claims.

The back was the most common location accounting for 22% of all serious claims. Other common locations inlude: hand, fingers, thumb (12%), shoulder (9%) & knee (9%)

Industry & Occupation

Employees in transport and storage sustained the highest incidence rate serious injury of all industries. Employees working as labourers sustained the highest incidence rate of all occupations.


Data for 2010/11 shows that there was 169 compensated fatalities. The highest number of compensated fatalities (28) was the construction industry, 24 compensated deaths in transport and storage - 18 of which were in road freight alone. Year-to-date data from Safe Work Australia illustrates the distribution of fatalities across these other industries. 

The National Strategy

The Australian Work Health & Safety Strategy 2012 - 2022 has identified the following groups as national priorities for prevention activities:

  • Agriculture
  • Road transport
  • Manufacturing
  • Construction
  • Accommodation & food services
  • Public administration
  • Health care and social assistance

The Strategy has also identified the following work-related disorder categories. These have been chosen based on their severity, the number of affected workers, and the existence of known prevention options:

  • Musculoskeletal disorders
  • Mental disorders
  • Cancers (Including skin cancers)
  • Asthma
  • Contact dermatitis
  • Noise induced hearing loss

Targets to be achieved by 2022

  • 20% reduction in workers fatalities due to injury
  • 30% reduction in claims resulting in one or more weeks off work
  • 30% reduction in claims for musculoskeletal disorders resulting in one or more weeks off work

For further information, please click on the following links Comparative Performance Monitoring Report 2012 & the Compendium of Workers' Compensation Statistics 2010/11

Select your industry from our list below to find the facts, figures and other important information about your industry