The number of worker deaths notified to work health and safety authorities in 2010–11 is showing a 7 per cent increase on numbers from 2009–10, according to Safe Work Australia.
In 2009–10, 216 workers lost their lives due to injuries sustained while working, which was a substantial fall from the 289 recorded in 2008–09. The highest number of 300 was recorded in 2006–07.
The large fall in the number of worker fatalities is reflected in a decrease in the fatality rate from 2.6 deaths per 100,000 workers in 2008–09 to 1.9 in 2009–10.
In a recent Safe Work Australia report, Work-Related Traumatic Injury Fatalities, Australia 2009–10, the regulator noted that this is the lowest rate since it began the series of reports.
“Unfortunately indications are that this lower rate will not continue,” Safe Work Australia said of the recent increase in the number of worker deaths in 2010–11.
Over the seven years of the series, one-third of workers who were killed while working were killed in a vehicle incident on a public road, another one-third were killed in a vehicle incident at a workplace and the remaining one-third did not involve a vehicle.
One-third of the workers who died in 2009–10 were working in or around a truck. Two-thirds of these involved a crash, with single vehicle crashes accounting for 26 of the 70 truck-related deaths in 2009–10.
The majority (204 of the 216) of the workers killed in 2009–10 were male, while workers aged 65 years and over experienced a fatality rate of 6.2 deaths per 100,000 workers in 2009–10, more than three times the rate for all workers.
Over the same period, 37 workers died (17 per cent of all worker fatalities) while working on an agricultural property with 25 of these deaths related to working with a vehicle.