Workplace accidents can occur in any line of work, whether it’s in an office setting or on a construction site. Unfortunately, workplace accidents are not uncommon in Western Australia, and they can have serious consequences for both the worker and the employer.
In 2021-22, 497,300 people suffered a work-related injury or illness, which is almost 3.5% of Australia’s workforce (ABS), but which are the most common accidents, and how can they be avoided?
We can’t begin an article exploring workplace injuries without first addressing mining.
Mining is by far Australia’s biggest export industry, and this is only increasing, with 2023 seeing record revenue at $455 billion. Whilst it’s one of the country’s largest economies, it is not necessarily the industry that results in the most injuries, even with the high level of risk involved.
Fatalities in the industry accounted for 2.3 per 100,000 workers in 2022, compared to 10.4 in the agriculture, forestry and fishing industry. Indeed, according to Safe Work Australia the health and safety improvements made over the last decade have reduced the incidence of fatalities and serious injury.
The most frequent forms of injuries or illnesses caused by workplace accidents remained consistent between 2021-22 and 2017-18:
- Sprains, strains, or dislocations: 29%.
- Chronic conditions affecting joints or muscles: 20%.
- Incidents resulting in cuts or open wounds: 13%.
The phrase ‘accident at work’ might conjure up severe injuries, but the most frequent forms are more slight injuries, but this does not mean they should be ignored.
Many of our claims cases come lifting and handling. Whilst the initial injury may not be catastrophic, the ongoing side effects and suffering can be long lasting, with chronic conditions resulting in lifelong symptoms.
Slips, trips, and falls
Slips, trips, and falls are among the most common types of workplace accidents in Australia, resulting in 17% of the total number of workplace injuries last year. Caused by wet or slippery floors, uneven surfaces, poor lighting, or cluttered work areas. Workers who are carrying heavy loads or who are not paying attention to their surroundings are also at risk of slips, trips, and falls. These accidents can result in broken bones, head injuries, and other serious injuries.
Struck by objects
Construction workers, or those employed in other industries such as mining where heavy machinery is used are at risk of being struck by objects. This can include falling objects, flying debris, or machinery that malfunctions. These accidents can result in catastrophic injuries or even fatalities. Fortunately, these types of accidents are decreasing, with a 4% drop in accidents, only 11% of workplace accidents involved equipment and objects.
Electrocution and burns
Workers who are not properly trained to handle electrical equipment or who do not follow proper safety procedures are at risk of electrocution. Likewise, employees workingwith chemicals or in industries where hot surfaces or flames are present are at risk of burns. These accidents can result in serious injuries, disfigurement, or even death.
Lifting, bending and repetitive movement
Workers who perform repetitive tasks, lift heavy objects, or work in awkward positions are at risk of developing musculoskeletal injuries. These injuries can include strains, sprains, and even more serious injuries such as herniated discs. As the most common injuries in the Australian workplace, these should be the biggest areas of focus for employers, with over a third of all workplace injuries caused by this type of activity.
Preventing Workplace Accidents
Preventing workplace accidents should be a top priority for businesses. Employers can take several steps to reduce the risk of workplace accidents, including:
- Providing proper training: Employers should provide their workers with proper training on how to use equipment, handle chemicals, and follow safety procedures.
- Maintaining a safe workplace: Employers should ensure that their workplace is clean, well-lit, and free from hazards.
- Providing proper equipment: Employers should provide their workers with proper safety equipment, applicable to the industry (ie hard hats, gloves, goggles).
- Encouraging safe behaviour: Employers should encourage their workers to follow safety procedures and report any hazards or unsafe behaviour.
Workplace accidents are a serious concern across Australia. Of all the accidents reported in the last financial year, over half received subsequent financial assistance, with 54% receiving workers’ compensation.
Employers should take steps to prevent these accidents from occurring and ensure that their workers are properly trained and equipped to handle their job responsibilities safely. By doing so, they can create a safer workplace for everyone and avoid personal injury and the subsequent claims.
How Accident Claims Lawyers can help
Our team deals with thousands of workplace accident enquiries every year and is experienced in managing a wide variety of accidents. They’re legal experts who will listen to your side of the story and advise you for free on whether you have a valid claim for workers compensation.
Once you have your free initial advice, we can then work with you throughout the entire process, ensuring you achieve the best possible financial, physical, and psychological outcome for your claim. Book an appointment today for a free initial assessment to make sure you’re getting the workers’ compensation that you are entitled to.