Australian Workplace Injuries and Workers Compensation Claims for 2023

While the number of Australians making worker’s compensation claims has decreased (-3.5% in 2021-22), with nearly half a million people impacted (497,300), there’s still room for improvement compared to previous years (-4.2% in 2017-18).

Understanding the current state of worker’s compensation Australia and Workcover claims helps businesses prioritise safety and refine prevention strategies relevant to their workplace.

This article investigates key statistics relating to high-risk industries and common injuries, workers’ compensation claims in Australia, and emerging trends and challenges for organisations.

Key Australian Statistics For Workplace Injuries

Workplace injuries and illnesses remain a reality across all professions, and it’s widely agreed there are still too many serious workplace injuries, fatalities and illnesses. The impact extends beyond the individual, affecting families and the broader community.

Out of 14.1 million Australians who worked in the 2021-22 period, approximately 3.5% (or 497,300 people) reported an illness or injury at work. The data is affected by COVID-19’s impact on economic activity over the period, but it’s still a positive trend from previous years (4.2% in 2017-18 and 6.4% in 2005-06). More good news is that workplace fatalities have been steadily declining since 2003.

Key Data Snapshot

  • Over ten years, more than 1,850 workplace injury fatalities occurred in Australia.
  • Over 1,140,000 workers have made severe workers’ compensation claims (lasting over a week).
  • This translates to roughly 1 in 12 workers experiencing a severe injury at work.

Workers’ Compensation Claims: Frequency, Duration, and Costs

Worksafe Australia and the Australian Bureau of Statistics workplace injury data reveal from 2021-2022, 497,300 people had a work-related injury or illness (3.5% of people who worked at some time during the year). The most common cause of injury is lifting, pushing, pulling or bending (24%). Additionally:

  • 66% had time off as a result of the injury or illness.
  • 31% received workers’ compensation for the injury or illness.

The median time lost for a severe claim in Australia is around seven working weeks, and the average compensation paid for a serious claim in 2020-21 was $15,100.

Australia’s Riskiest Industries and The Most Common Injuries

The most high-risk industries

  • Agriculture, forestry and fishing work with machinery, environmental hazards, and animal exposure
  • Transport, postal and warehousing jobs involving driving and lifting 
  • Construction workers at heights and using heavy machinery 
  • Healthcare and social assistance can face injuries from patient handling
  • Manufacturing, where operating machinery, chemical exposure, and repetitive tasks cause injuries.

Most common injury types and causes

  • Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) caused by repetitive tasks, awkward postures, and heavy lifting
  • Slips, trips, and falls are seemingly minor incidents that can become serious, especially in high-risk environments
  • Injuries from falling objects, machinery, tools and equipment.
  • Psychological injuries through stress, fatigue, and violence can all contribute to mental health-related issues.

Emerging Trends Shaping Workplaces

Increasing remote and hybrid work arrangements means workplaces must ensure measures are in place for staff to prevent injuries at home while working.

Mental health claims are on the rise (13% of serious claims in 2020-21), prompting regulators to emphasise psychological safety in workplaces. 

Artificial Intelligence and automation over the last several decades have enhanced working conditions and production efficiency. However, work-related musculoskeletal conditions remain common. State and federal governments constantly review and revise workers’ compensation schemes. Organisations need to stay up-to-date on these changes to ensure compliance.

Partnering With You For Worker’s Compensation Claim Success

With access to a network of medical experts and our team of in-house professionals in work-related injuries, learn more about how Red Health provides legal and insurance specialists an easier, friendlier medico-legal experience.