You wouldn’t typically wonder if it’d be your last day alive when you head out for work, but for many Australians working in the industries below, the concern is real.
An analysis of Safe Work Australia’s latest statistics on injuries and fatalities in the workplace revealed the top 10 most dangerous industries in Australia, and the numbers are alarming:
The agriculture, forestry and fishing industry recorded the highest number of injuries and fatalities from 2003-2014, with the 686 deaths recorded accounting for 23% of total workplace deaths in the period.
The biggest killer in Australian workplace incidents is still vehicle-related incidents…
In 2013-14 the agriculture, forestry and fishing industry recorded the 3rd highest number of worker’s compensation claims, equating to 8.6 million hours worked.
This is not too surprising – commercial fishing has been deemed the deadliest occupation in various countries including America and Britain, and the combined industry regularly top the list of most dangerous jobs in the world.
Transport, postal and warehousing is second on the list with 549 transport-related deaths in workplaces.
This number is concerning, because it accounts for a whopping 24% of all work-related fatalities even though the industry represents only 9.44% of the workers employed by the 10 industries listed.
These industries and those of agriculture forestry and fishing all involve some form of driving of vehicle interaction, accounting for the high number fatalities.
The biggest killer in Australian workplace incidents is still vehicle-related incidents, with road freight transport alone killing 423 workers in the 2003-2014 period.
Between 2003-2014, two-thirds of all worker fatalities involved a vehicle, with 116 of the 188 fatalities in 2014 being vehicle-related.
The construction industry came in third on the list of most dangerous jobs, followed by manufacturing, mining, arts and recreation services, wholesale trade, health and community services, public administration and safety, and finally, administrative and support services.
Despite coming in eighth in terms of its risk level, health and community services recorded the highest number of serious injuries claims in 2013-14, totalling 17,415.
“This really reminds us that it’s not just the jobs that involve heavy machinery that are dangerous,” said Pedro Pessoa, Andatech’s workplace health and safety expert. “There are potential dangers across any industry, no matter how safe it may seem.”
The good news, however, is that the number and rate of work-related fatalities are on the decline, as indicated by the graph below. It could be evidence that increasingly strict workplace health and safety (WHS) laws are effective in improving safety at the workplace.
No matter what industry you are working in, you can improve safety habits in the workplace. Here are some tips to improve workplace safety from Mr. Pessoa, Andatech’s WHS expert:
Considering vehicle-related incidents are still the biggest killer in Australian workplace incidents, it’s important to stay safe on the road. That means staying vigilant and driving carefully, even if you’re not driving as part of your job. Just a few seconds of inattention can be dangerous for a driver of any vehicle, big or small.
Beware the morning after drinking
Even a little alcohol in your system can affect your ability to drive and work. While we know not to drive or go to work right after a few drinks, we forget this important fact about alcohol:
Alcohol can still remain in your system the morning after drinking, which means you could still register an alcohol reading the next morning, even if you feel sober.
In cases like this, it’s best not to rely on how you feel. Instead, use a breathalyser to get an actual BAC reading.
Learn more about the effects of alcohol.
Don’t drive or go to work under the influence of drugs
The same applies for driving or working with drugs in your system, regardless of whether they are prescription drugs or recreational drugs.
The effects of drugs can last for days up to several weeks and may not be noticeable to you but still affect your ability to drive or work safely.
Safety-critical workplaces should have drug testing policies in place and if there is suspicion that an employee is under the influence of drugs, use a drug testing kit to confirm.
According to a report by Safe Work Australia in 2007 around 2% of work-related deaths could be attributed to illicit drugs, and 4% to alcohol. Around 2.5% of the workforce reported going to work under the influence of illicit drugs, with workers in hospitality and construction being the most likely to do so.
Manage workplace fatigue
Fatigue can seriously affect workplace safety as reduced alertness can lead to errors and increase work incidents and injuries, especially in safety-critical industries or in tasks that require a high level of concentration.
Many factors may contribute to and increase the risk of fatigue, such as tiring work schedules, high job demands, lack of sleep, or personal problems. The important thing is to find ways to better cope and prevent fatigue in the workplace, such as through
Check out this infographic on managing fatigue in the workplace.
Follow safety rules
Be aware of the hazards around you and be sure to wear protective equipment if required. In some industries such as construction and warehousing, visitors are also required to follow safety rules such as wearing hardhats or covered shoes, so it’s important to take note of these as well if you are a visitor or are receiving them.
Remember that both employers and employees have a legal duty to ensuring a safe workplace!
Visit the Safe Work Australia website at safeworkaustralia.gov.au for further information and resources on workplace safety.