Work-related health issues cost the Australian economy a staggering $28.6 billion every year according to a detailed study by Deloitte commissioned by Safe Work Australia.

Between 2008-18, there were an average of 623,663 work-related injuries or illnesses per year in this country. That equates to a productivity loss of 2.2 million full-time workers.

In that time, health expenditure costs as a result were an eye-watering $37.6 billion. Employers felt an even bigger burden to the tune of $49.5 billion.

So, what can be done to reduce that impact, keep businesses and the economy running smoothly and send workers home fit and healthy every night?

Sadly, some workplace injuries and illnesses remain unavoidable. But many can be mitigated not just by solid and safe practices on the employers’ behalf but by vigilance and early action by employees.

There are many common issues which can be greatly reduced in their severity by seeing a GP at the earliest possible opportunity.

Gathering any relevant supporting documentation to assist with any potential work cover claim is also a good idea.

Breaking down the detail on workplace injury claims

There’s a lot to learn from the data on workplace injury claims, so let’s take a closer look.

How many serious claims are filed?

More than 120,000 serious workplace claims were filed in 2019-20. That claim rate has fallen by 23% in the last decade but has still resulted in an average loss of 6.6 weeks per claim.

The median compensation for pay outs has been $13,500.

The incidence of claims was higher for older workers and peaked in the 55-59 age group at 13.9 claims per 1000 employees.

What are the most common types of workplace injuries?

An incredible 88% of claims were for injuries and musculoskeletal disorders while 40% of such claims involved joint, ligament, muscle and tendon injuries.

Body stressing was the most common mechanism of injury at 37%. This was followed by falls or trips (23%), being hit by moving objects (16%) and mental stress (8%).

Significantly, while mental stress was deemed the cause of 8% of claims, it was the nature of the claim itself on 9% of occasions.

It ranked fifth behind traumatic joint/ligament/muscle injuries (38%), musculoskeletal and connective tissue diseases (18%), wounds, lacerations and internal organ damage (16%) and fractures (11%).

Arms were the most injured part of the body (25%) ahead of legs (23%), back (18%) and neck and shoulder (13%).

Which workers get injured the most?

Labourers filed the most serious claims (18.1 per million hours worked) ahead of community and personal service workers (13.9), machinery operators and drivers (11.4) and technicians and trades workers (7.9).

In terms of industries, agriculture, forestry and fishing filed the most serious claims (9.6 per million hours worked) ahead of manufacturing (9.1), transport, postal and warehousing (8.9), healthcare and social assistance (8.6) and construction (8.5).

Workplace fatalities

The following are takeaways from Safe Work Australia’s Key Work Health and Safety Statistics for 2021. They analyse fatalities at work for the previous year.

The majority of work-related health issues don’t result in death. But the data highlights some of the more dangerous professions, industries and demographics.

  • The national fatality rate of 1.5 deaths per 100,000 workers has halved since 2007.
  • Men are more than 23 times more likely to die at work than women (186 deaths to eight in 2020)
  • The 65+ age group is most at risk with 5.3 fatalities per 100,000 workers with the 55-64 age group next with 2.9.
  • SA is among the safest states with a rate of just 1.3 fatalities per 100,000 – only the ACT has a safer record.
  • The most common cause of death is a vehicle collision (41%), being hit by a moving object (13%) and falling from a height (11%).
  • Machinery operators and drivers are most at risk (8.4 deaths per 100,000) followed by labourers (3.5) and managers (2.2).
  • The agriculture, forestry and fishing industry suffers the most deaths (13.1 per 100,000) followed by transport, postal and warehousing (7.8) and construction (3.1).

Prevention is better than cure

It’s an old adage but the above statistics reinforce a couple of areas where injuries, ailments or illnesses can be prevented from deteriorating and reduced in their severity by early intervention.

That means seeing a GP at the first sign of work-related health issues. Stress, both physical and mental, tends to respond well to early intervention.

Physical stress may involve repetitive strain injuries endured in the workplace. This could include sore necks and backs suffered from long hours at a desk or behind the wheel of a vehicle.

Mental stress also benefits from swift action. It may be the result of overwork, or job dissatisfaction in terms of conflict with work colleagues or bosses.

Mental stress can also trigger many other health issues if left unchecked.

Book an appointment

It really is critical to consult with a GP as soon as possible if you feel yourself becoming vulnerable physically or mentally at work.

This including body aches or pains as well as feelings of anxiety, nervousness or depression.

Depression is one of the most common illnesses in Australia. Your doctor will talk to you about how you are feeling, and they will also undertake a physical exam and potentially run a couple of basic tests.

And they will work with you to remedy any issues and have you back fit and firing at work as soon as possible.

AHA Clinics encourage early intervention and promote ongoing health maintenance to prevent illnesses and disease before they become serious.

Book an appointment today at the Seaford Road Day and Night Clinic or the Seaford Meadows Day and Night Clinic.