Serious workers’ compensation claims fall by 9 per cent across Australia

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of members. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Tuesday, 2 February, 2021 - 12:30
Industry news
National News

Over the past five years, the incident rate of serious workers’ compensation claims has decreased by 9 per cent across Australia from 10.3 claims per 1000 employees in 2013–14 to 9.4 per cent in 2017–18, according to a new Safe Work Australia analysis.

It also found the overall Australian frequency rate of serious claims decreased by 8 per cent from 6.2 claims per million hours worked in 2013–14 to 5.7 per cent in 2017–18, while the proportion of serious claims due to mental stress in Australia increased from 5.8 per cent in 2013–14 to 8.3 per cent in 2018–19.

Safe Work Australia’s latest Comparative Performance Monitoring report analyses trends in the work health and safety and workers’ compensation schemes operating in Australia and New Zealand.

The report also found that in 2018–19, WHS authorities across Australia undertook 229,236 workplace interventions, and of these, 77,632 workplace visits were proactive and 67,836 were reactive.

The rest were proactive workshops as well as 77,538 other reactive intervention activities, such as desk-based audits, meetings, telephone advice and written correspondence that were directly related to the resolution of an incident or complaint.

The analysis found the number of proactive workplace visits decreased by 4 per cent and the number of proactive workshops, presentations and seminars increased by 8 per cent in 2018–19 compared to the previous year.

Furthermore, in 2018–19 there was a significant increase in the number of infringement, improvement and prohibition notices issued in Australia compared to the previous year.

Australian jurisdictions issued 55,568 notices in 2018–19 (up 20 per cent), comprising 1503 infringement notices (up 149 per cent), 5884 prohibition notices (up 20 per cent) and 48,181 improvement notices (up 18 per cent).

In 2018–19, there was a 6 per cent increase in the overall number of legal proceedings finalised compared to the previous year – although this was mostly driven by relatively large increases in Victoria (up 21 per cent) and the Northern Territory (up 33 per cent)

The total amount of fines awarded by the courts in 2018–19 was $18.6 million, a 2 per cent decrease from the previous year. Queensland and the Northern Territory recorded increases in the amounts of fines awarded by the courts compared to the previous year (up 135 per cent and 87 per cent respectively).

The report also found that total expenditure for workers’ compensation schemes across Australia was $8.908 billion in 2018–19 (of which 77 per cent went to claimants through either direct payments or services).