Non Skilled Workers Most at Risk in Queensland

WORKPLACE Health and Safety Queensland has unveiled a newly revamped industry index which measures workplace safety risks, revealing that labouring jobs are Queensland’s most dangerous.

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland head Dr Simon Blackwood said the harm index, based on workers’ compensation claims data and other statistics, shows that the workers facing the most risk are:

  • labourers
  • machinery operators and drivers
  • technicians and trades workers
  • community and personal service workers

The harm index will be used to target educational, advisory, intervention and leadership programs aimed at reducing the incidence of workplace deaths, injury and illness.

The index of work-related injuries in Queensland was introduced in 2011 and has since become a commonly used instrument for Workplace Health and Safety Queensland’s planning processes.

Prior to the revamp, the index was broken down by industry and business size. It now shows the relative risks by occupation.

Labouring was indicated to be nearly three times as dangerous as the average for all occupations. Miscellaneous labourers, factory process workers, food process workers and construction and mining labourers were all represented in the most dangerous end of the index.

“That means injuries to workers in those occupations were three to six times more severe than the average Queensland worker,” Dr Blackwood said.

“Labourers contributed more than 25 000 compensation claims, almost one third of all claims finalised in 2011-12, which was the largest share of any main occupation group.

“They were followed by machinery operators and drivers who recorded an index value 2.4 times greater than the state average and contributed the fourth highest proportion (9504 claims or 12.3 per cent) of claims by all occupations. But it was the truck drivers who were by far the highest risk in this category.”

Technicians and trades workers recorded a medium risk on the index, with injuries to trade workers in the construction industry, such as bricklayers, carpenters and joiners likely to be twice as severe as the average Queensland worker. Trade workers in fabrication industries were also represented at the high end of the index.

Community and personal service workers had an overall index value of medium risk, which was 1.2 times more severe than the average Queensland worker. Even so, this group contributed 9722 claims of all compensated claims in 2011–12. Occupations that were of the highest risk involved fire fighters, police and health and welfare support workers (carers and aides).

Manufacturing had the highest risk of all industries with an index value 1.8 times higher than that for all industries. The construction industry recorded the second-highest index value at 1.6 times higher, closely followed by the rural industry.

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