Machinery operators and drivers accounted for 72 fatalities in 2019, according to new statistics released by Safe Work Australia.
There were a total of 114,435 serious workers compensation claims in Australia in 2018–19, with body stressing the leading cause, accounting for 36 per cent of all serious claims.
Serious claims relate to where the compensated injury or disease resulted in one week or more off work.
The agriculture, forestry and fishing industry had the highest worker fatality rate in 2019, while vehicle collisions accounted for 43 per cent of worker fatalities.
By state and territory, New South Wales recorded 62 fatalities, followed by Queensland with 41 and Victoria with 34.
Western Australia followed with 20 fatalities, then South Australia with 14, while Tasmania and the Northern Territory recorded six fatalities each. The ACT was the only state or territory not to record a worker fatality in 2019.
Overall, Safe Work Australia noted that Australia’s fatality rate decreased by 53 per cent from its peak in 2007.
The data is based on Safe Work Australia’s Traumatic Injury Fatalities database, which covers fatalities due to work-related injuries and explicitly excludes deaths attributed to disease and other natural causes.
Among conditions specifically included as injuries in the database are those arising from poisonous plants and animals, environmental conditions (e.g. frostbite), allergic reactions and embolisms.
Heart attacks and strokes are regarded as natural causes of death, but where available information shows that a work-related injury directly triggered a fatal heart attack or stroke, the fatality is included.