Top 20 worst workplace hazards revealed

WA’s worst workplace hazards have been revealed, with trips on clear ground and muscular injuries topping the list for total time lost from work. 

A new WorkSafe publication, Worst hazards in Western Australian workplaces 2012-13 to 2021-22, found the top 20 workplace hazards resulted in a huge 25,000 years of lost time with 94,100 claims valued at $4 billion.  

The report analysed lost time due to workplace injuries and fatalities. 

It found: 

  • Manual handling is the worst hazard group by total time lost from work, accounting for 40 per cent of all lost time. The worst specific workplace hazard is trips on clear, cluttered or slick ground.  
  • Women are more likely to be harmed by psychosocial hazards and handling other people, while men are more likely to be harmed by falls and vehicle crashes.  
  • Young workers under 25 lose more time to electrocution, gravity hazards and moving objects, while workers over 65 lose more time to trips, handling and assault.  
  • The worst causes of years lost to fatalities are vehicle crashes and gravity hazards. 
  • The greatest hazards in the construction industry are falls, trips and handling. 

Overall, the worst workplace hazards that caused the most lost time include psychosocial hazards and falls.

The report showed the top 20 workplace hazards as outlined below, with trip on clear ground (17,805 claims at $700m) claiming top spot followed by muscular stress with no objects (10,762 claims at $400m) and trip on cluttered ground (8,375 claims at $300m).

Source: WorkSafe Worst hazards in Western Australian workplaces 2012-13 to 2021-22 report. *Figures rounded for readability.

 

Time off for injured workers 

Of the 500,000 Australian workers (3.5% of the workforce) injured at work in 2021-22, the report said 66% had time off as a result and 31% received workers’ compensation. 

The report said of the 323,700 (65.1%) workers who experienced a work-related injury or illness and did not make a claim for workers’ compensation, the primary reason given was ‘minor injury only/not considered necessary’, which accounted for 39.5% of such instances. 

However, the statistics showed West Australian workers have a much lower chance of being fatally injured at work in 2024 than they did 34 years ago. 

When the increase in WA workforce numbers is taken into account, a worker’s risk of being fatally injured fell by 83 percent between 1988/89 and 2022/23, WorkSafe said. 

In 1988/89, WA recorded 49.5 fatalities per million workers. By 2022/23, this number had reduced to 8.5 fatalities per million workers. 

Warning against complacency 

Acting WorkSafe Commissioner Sally North warned against complacency towards the safety of workers in light of the new figures. 

“Although this decrease in the rate of fatalities is good news, we should never become complacent about the safety of workers,” North said. 

“The improvements can be attributed to a number of factors including a steady increase in awareness of workplace health and safety over recent decades. 

“Improved regulation has also played a part, along with lots of great work from employers, workers, health and safety representatives, unions and industry bodies.” 

CCIWA Senior WHS Practitioner Matt Butterworth said the worst hazards statistics reinforced the importance of ensuring workplaces were compliant with best-practice WHS systems. 

“CCIWA can help with an audit of your business and implementing policies and procedures to ensure the ongoing safety of your staff,” he said. 

“All things considered, these statistics represent highly preventable injuries to individuals plus people and cost burden to business. Expert guidance is a good investment for business – large and small.” 

 

Our qualified workplace health and safety experts provide cost-effective solutions to manage your WHS needs, reduce the risk to your workers and help you meet WA’s WHS laws. Email [email protected] or call (08) 9365 7415. 

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