According to SafeWork SA, the agency responsible for occupational health and safety in South Australia, manufacturing received an average of $39 million worth of claims each year between 2014 and 2017.
That was followed by hospitals on $18 million, and then aged care and road transport ($13 million and $12 million, respectively).
In a bid to reduce the numbers of workplace accidents and resulting financial losses in workers’ compensation – not to mention lost productivity – SafeWork SA is producing a range of guides with specific advice and support for employers.
Known as “Industry Action Plans”, the guides are available from SafeWork SA’s website and include a section dedicated specifically to small business. While designed by a South Australian agency, they are accessible to businesses from every state and territory.
“Every industry can benefit from taking a closer look at its approach to workplace safety, and SafeWork SA is committed to offering practical, hands-on support to keep workers safe,” the agency’s executive director, Martyn Campbell, said.
“These Industry Action Plans are a collaborative means of working with businesses and industry to improve health and safety outcomes. These plans identify who, how and where people are being injured most across these industries and what we will do to contribute to the reduction of workplace injuries across South Australia.”
Mr Campbell added: “By raising awareness and sharing experience and expertise, we can help workers take steps to stay safe.”
According to figures from Safe Work Australia for 2015-16 (the most recent figures available), there were 104,770 serious workers’ compensation claims lodged, with the highest rates of claims coming from labourers, machinery operators and drivers, and community and personal service workers.
Safe Work Australia also found that between the 2001 and 2015 financial years, compensation costs (adjusted for inflation) increased by 30 per cent to a median of $6,800, while the amount of time at work lost associated with a serious claim soared by one-third to 5.6 working weeks.
A survey of SMEs last year found that the vast majority are failing to understand their obligations on workplace safety, including that casual workers are also eligible for workers’ compensation.