ACT News

National injury rate drops as WorkSafe focuses on construction industry

ACT WorkSafe Commissioner Mark McCabe has welcomed news the number of people experiencing work-related injuries has fallen nationally despite warning of discrepancies across various industries.

According to data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics this week, the national injury rate has fallen to 4.3 per cent, which is two percentage points lower than the rate recording in 2005-6.

Mr McCabe suspected there had been an overall reduction improvement of injury statistics in the ACT although these would vary amongprofessions.

"The construction-site statistics are still poor in the ACT – that I can say without a doubt – as we still have the worst construction industry injury statistics in the county," he said.

"It's not a thing you can turn around very quickly and there's a lot of work being done but it's going to take some time to pay off."

CFMEU ACT secretary Dean Hall said the national figures did not reflect increasing injuries in the ACT construction sector. 


Mr Hall said the number of people suffering workplace injuries that required 12 weeks or more off work was 31 per cent higher than the national average.

"Injuries in the construction industry are getting worse, not better," he said.

Earlier this month, WorkSafe conducted a crackdown on unsafe building sites in Crace halting six projects and issuing more than 40 improvement notices.

Director of the Australia Bureau of Statistics labour force survey Stephen Collett said the annual data revealed men had a higher rate of workplace injury than women.

"In 2013-14, this was driven by the large number of injuries sustained by men working in the manufacturing and construction industries," he said.

"For women, the largest number of injuries occurred in the healthcare and social assistance industry, and in the accommodation and food services industry.

"The most commonly reported problems were sprains and strains, which accounted for one in three injuries, followed by joint or muscle conditions at one in five."

Mr McCabe said he hoped construction industry injuries were on the decline thanks to recent developments and was waiting to see this reflected in the statistics.

"The problem with the statistics is they're always a couple of years behind as they're based on workers' compensation claims so they lag by about two years," he said.

"I'd like to think it's actually better now but we won't know until about two years' time."

Mr Collett said most injuries occurred when people were lifting, pushing, pulling, bending, hitting, or being hit by an object.

"About 60 per cent of injured workers received some form of financial assistance, just over half of which was workers' compensation," he said.

"Most people who experienced a work-related injury or illness took less than five days off work and about 40 per cent took no time off at all."