Department of Family and Community Services

1.4 Major work-related injuries and diseases

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Compensable injuries and diseases –major claims

Current position

NSW women have a lower frequency of compensable injuries and diseases than men (6.6 claims per million hours worked by women employees in 2010-11, compared to 8.4 claims per million hours worked by men).

However, women have a higher rate of mental disorder claims, double the frequency of men’s. Mental disorder claims made up around 7 percent of all major employment injuries in 2010-11.

Gender gaps

  • The pattern of work injuries demonstrates an overall gender gap in women’s favour of 1.8 claims per million hours worked.
  • Women’s rate of mental disorder claims was twice that of men in 2010-11 at 0.8 claims for every million hours worked (1,690 claims in total).
The direction of
change over time

The frequency rate for women’s compensable injuries in 2010-11 was the same as in
2009-10 (reported in last year’s Report). Men’s fell slightly from 8.9 per million hours worked in 2009-10 to 8.4 per million hours worked.

The frequency rate and total number of claims has fallen significantly since 2001-02, with the decline greater for men from a higher starting point. Women’s claims were 14,154 in 2010-11, down from 16,763 in 2001-02. Men’s claims totalled 26,659 in 2010-11, down
from 37,911 in 2001-02. 

In 2010-11, as in data from the previous year, women’s length of time off work for occupational diseases is significantly greater than men’s on average (see Table 2.3 below). Women are off work for 3.5 weeks more than men (comparing the median).

Among women the frequency of mental disorder claims peaked in the early 2000s at 1.0 per million hours worked. The 0.8 per million hours worked rate in 2010-11 was higher than the 2009-10 figure in last year’s Report (0.7 per million hours worked).

Discussion

In 2004, the Productivity Commission estimated that the total economic cost of work-related injury and disease in Australia was in excess of $31 billion annually, in addition to the significant non-economic costs borne by individuals, their families, businesses and the community as a whole.

Women and men typically work in different industries and occupations in NSW each with
their own safety risks. Women are under-represented in some hazardous industries with high injury and disease rates, such as mining and construction but over-represented in industries such as health and education with high interpersonal demands (see Chapter 4).

Work-related injuries and diseases include those that result from incidents at the place of work; while commuting to and from work; and illnesses contracted due to work, for example, industrial deafness, repetitive strain injuries, asthma and skin diseases.

The data above refers to major claims where a workers’ compensation claim was accepted and where five or more days time off work was paid through the NSW workers’ compensation system for incapacity arising from the injury or disease. These claims amount to approximately 60 percent of all lost time injuries in NSW annually.

Year collected: 2010-11 and preceding years.
Data source: WorkCover NSW unpublished data at the time of writing.
More information is available at www.workcover.nsw.gov.au

Table 2.3 Occupational diseases by sex, NSW, 2002-11

 
Year 

Number 

Median time lost weeks 

Median cost $ 

Women 

Men 

Women 

Men 

Women 

Men 

2002-03  2,994 6,163 7.3 5.6 11,410

11,450

2003-04  3,174 6,430 7.4 6 12,073

12,263

2004-05  3,235 6,462 7.3 6 12,352

12,600

2005-06  2,713 5,913 6 6.4 11,169

12,485

2006-07  2,539 5,662 5.9 6 11,822

12,141

2007-08  2,667 5,961 6.1 6.4 12,505

13,000

2008-09  2,621 6,364 6.6 6.1 11,802

14,130

2009-10  2,830 7,225 8 7.3 13,169

14,274

2010-11  2,846 6,135 10.6 7.1 13,688

15,153

Note: Occupational diseases are illnesses contracted at, or aggravated by work. These figures refer to major occupational disease claims where five days or more were lost from work.

Population: Successful claims made by NSW employees and those self-employed earners covered by the Workers’ Compensation Act. Does not include Commonwealth Government employees.

Source: WorkCover NSW. Statistical Bulletin. Unpublished data at the time of writing.