Safe Work Australia Report - high risk industries

June 10, 2014

By Stephanie Matthews - General Manager NSW

You may have noticed an increase in the number of reality television shows focussed on work. Specifically, dangerous or unpleasant work. Ice Road Truckers follows a number of Truck Drivers driving over frozen lakes in Alaska and Canada. Deadliest Catch follows a number of fishermen on board vessels in the Bering Sea. Swamp People follows a number of ‘Gator Hunters’ hunting American alligators in Louisiana. Dog the Bounty Hunter follows a… you get the idea.

Although heavily sensationalised, work environments of all types can be dangerous and understanding high risk scenarios/industries is key to maintaining a safe work environment.

Safe Work Australia provides an online year-to-date table of worker fatalities by industry. The figures provided are based on initial media reports, as the fatalities have yet to be investigated by the relevant authority to determine whether they were indeed work-related.

As at 27 May 2014, 72 Australian workers are believed to have been killed at work.
Of these, over 41% were employed in the transport, postal and warehousing industry, 24% in agriculture, forestry and fishing and 11% in mining.

Six percent were employed in construction and 4% each in manufacturing, arts and recreation services, and electricity, gas, water and waste services.

The remaining 6% were employed in the health care and social assistance industry, accommodation and food services industry, and the rental, hiring and real estate services industry.

It would appear that there is risk involved in almost any occupation, but there is some reassurance to be had. At this time last year, there had been 78 fatalities at work. At this time in 2012, there had been 87. We are pleased to see the numbers decreasing, albeit slowly. Continuous and proactive review of procedures must not be overlooked by organisations.

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