Australia’s agricultural sector has received a mixed report card in Safe Work Australia’s latest release of Australian workers’ compensation statistics.
Findings specific to the Agriculture, forestry and fishing sector included the highest frequency rate of serious claims of any industry (9.6 serious claims per million hours worked).
The agriculture, forestry and fishing sector had the highest rate of serious claims nationally, followed by manufacturing, and transport, postal and warehousing.
Within the broader Agriculture, forestry and fishing industry, the Agriculture industry sub-division accounted for 75 percent of serious claims in 2019–20, with 8.5 serious claims per million hours worked and 16.9 serious claims per 1000 employees.
The Agriculture, forestry and fishing industry recorded the highest frequency rate for injury and musculoskeletal disorders (9.0 serious claims per million hours worked), almost twice the average for all industries (5.3).
However, the number of serious claims in agriculture in the 20 years from 2000-01 to 2019-20 was down by 35 percent. Mining recorded the largest rise of all sectors of 38 percent.
Agriculture recorded a 209 percent increase in median compensation payments from 2000-01 to 2018-19, which was higher than the increase for all industries.
The median claim in agriculture in 2018-19 was $12,400, which compared to $4000 in 2000-01.
Increases in payments reflect a range of factors such as increases in wages and the costs of medical treatment.
Overall key findings Australia-wide across all industry sectors in 2019-20 include:
- There were 120,355 serious workers’ compensation claims Australia-wide in all industry sectors.
- 31 percent of serious claims were for illness and diseases.
- The three occupations with the highest rate of serious claims were labourers, community and personal service workers and machinery operators and drivers.
- 69 percent of serious claims were for injuries.
- The 3 most common injury types were traumatic joint/ligament and muscle/tendon injuries (38pc of all serious claims); musculoskeletal and connective tissue diseases (18pc) amd wounds, lacerations, amputations and internal organ damage (16pc).
- The number of serious claims fell 13pc from 133,041 claims in 2000–01 to 115,707 claims in 2018–19.
- The median time lost for a serious claim was seven working weeks.
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