INJURIES & ILLNESSES COST 41,000 JOBS YEARLY

Workplace injuries and illnesses are costing Australia the equivalent of 41,000 lost jobs each year, according to a new metric called ‘working years lost.’ Developed by Monash University's Professor Alex Collie and Luke Sheehan, this metric measures the burden of work-related injuries by representing the number of people off work for a full year.

The metric was used in a study analysing national workers' compensation data from 2012 to 2017, which found that annually, 41,194 working years were lost across about 150,000 claims. Key findings include:

  • 40% of the working years lost were due to traumatic joint and muscle injuries.
  • 21% were due to musculoskeletal disorders.
  • 13% were due to mental health conditions, despite making up only 5% of claims.
  • 10% involved fractures.
  • 4% were linked to wounds and lacerations.

Male workers accounted for 62% of the working years lost. Workers over 45 years old made up just over half of all working years lost, despite only representing 44% of accepted claims.

The findings suggest that effective occupational health surveillance, policy development, and resource allocation will benefit from monitoring working time loss. The study highlights the importance of occupational rehabilitation and return-to-work programs, which are crucial for workers' health, along with primary prevention measures. Further investigation is recommended to inform future occupational health and workers' compensation policies.

Worth noting: the dataset in question ends in 2017. Since that time all jurisdictions have seen a rapid growth in mental injury claims.

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