The number of infringement notices issued by OHS regulators dropped by 37 per cent in the 12 months to June 2012, while the number of prohibition and improvement notices also decreased, a new Safe Work Australia statistics report has shown.
The 2014 Key Work Health and Safety Statistics report found OHS inspectors conducted 133,935 workplace interventions in 2011-12, down from more than 140,000 in 2010-11.
They issued 612 infringement notices (down from 970 in 2010-11), 4613 prohibition notices (down from 5292) and 44,837 improvement notices (down from 51,349).
Some 362 OHS-related legal proceedings were finalised in 2011-12, down from 397 the previous year.
However, $22.3 million in safety fines were handed out by the courts – about $7 million more than 2010-11.
The report also shows the agriculture, forestry and fishing industry; manufacturing industry; and transport and storage sector continued to have the highest serious injury incidence rates of 21.9, 20.9 and 20.8 per 1000 workers respectively in 2011-12.
Labourers, transport workers and tradespersons had the highest serious injury incidence rates of all occupations, with rates of 30.4, 25.9 and 20.6 per 1000 workers respectively.
The most common work-related injuries compensated during the same period were sprains and strains, which accounted for 42.4 per cent of all serious injury claims.
“Body stressing, falls, trips and slips of a person and being hit by a moving object were the mechanisms of work-related injury or disease responsible for 75 per cent of serious workers’ compensation claims in 2011-12,” the report says.
The report shows that 228 workers died due to a workplace injury in 2011-12, which was an increase on the previous two years (220 in 2010-11 and 216 in 2009-10) but substantially lower than the 295 deaths recorded in 2006-07.
Unsurprisingly, the agriculture, forestry and fishing industry had the highest number of deaths (60) and the highest fatality rate (17.93 deaths per 100,000 workers), which is nine times the all-industries rate of 1.99.
The transport, postal and warehousing industry came next, with 51 deaths and a fatality rate of 9.02 deaths per 100,000 workers.
Nearly 100 workers died in a vehicle incident or rollover in 2011-12, and 30 workers died after being hit by falling objects, the report found.
The report also examines the 2002-2012 National OHS Strategy, mesothelioma cases, and workers’ comp premium rates.