The statistics in this report are of Australian workers’ compensation claims that were lodged between 2000–01 and 2015–16. The statistics are an indicator of Australia’s work health and safety performance over the 15-year period between 2000–01 and 2015–16, however this data does not cover all cases of work-related injuries and diseases (see explanatory notes for further information). The statistics are presented by:

  • sex
  • age group
  • occupation
  • industry
  • nature of injury or disease
  • mechanism of injury or disease
  • breakdown agency of injury or disease, and
  • bodily location of injury or disease.

Claim numbers are rounded to the nearest 5 to help protect confidential information about employers and employees. Due to rounding, differences may appear between the reported totals and proportions and the sums of rows or columns. Rates and percentages are calculated using unrounded numbers.


The data used in this report were supplied by jurisdictions for the 2015–16 financial year plus updates back to 2010–11. Readers should be aware that the data presented here may differ from jurisdictional annual reports due to the use of different definitions and the application of adjustment factors to aid in the comparability of data. Additional information on the data can be found in the explanatory notes.

Definition of a serious claim

The statistics in this report are of serious claims only. A serious claim is an accepted workers’ compensation claim for an incapacity that results in a total absence from work of one working week or more. Claims in receipt of common-law payments are also included. Claims arising from a journey to or from work or during a recess period are not compensable in all jurisdictions and are excluded.

Serious claims exclude compensated fatalities. Safe Work Australia produces other resources that provide information on work-related fatalities in Australia. The most up-to-date count of worker fatalities is available online on Safe Work Australia’s worker fatalities page. Comprehensive information on work-related injury fatalities is available in the Work-Related Traumatic Injury Fatalities reports. The reports are based on information from workers’ compensation data, coronial information, notifiable fatalities and the media.

Frequency and incidence rates

Frequency rates are expressed as the number of serious claims per million hours worked, while incidence rates are expressed as the number of serious claims per 1000 employees.

Compared with an incidence rate, a frequency rate is a more precise and accurate measure of work health and safety because it reflects the number of injuries and diseases per hour worked. It is important to account for the number of hours worked because there are significant differences in the number of hours worked by different groups of employees and employees at different points in time. The differences in the number of hours worked mean that employees’ exposure to work-related risks vary considerably. A frequency rate accounts for these differences and allows accurate comparisons to be made of different groups of employees and employees at different points in time.