Data released by Safe Work Australia shows that the rate of serious workers’ compensation claims continues to decline (21 percent) among female workers. A similar trend was observed in the rate of fatal injuries (30 percent drop) among female workers in the 12 years 2014.
Safe Work Australia’s Director of Data and Analysis Thomas Mettenmeyer was pleased with the positive downward trend but said that while women are less likely than men to experience a fatal injury at work, occupation is still a key determinant for work-related disease and injury rather than gender.
“Women are overall less likely to suffer a fatal injury in the workplace, and less likely to experience a serious injury,” said Mr Mettenmeyer. “This is mainly due to the low percentage of female workers in occupations that have high rates of serious or fatal injury, such as labourers and rail drivers.”
“There are significant differences in the occupation types of femal and male employees and these differences have the biggest impact on the types of injuries and diseases experienced,” she said.
Mr Mettenmeyer noted that the workers’ compensation claim rate for mental disorders is 2.3 times higher among female employees.
“This is largely because women are more likely to be employed in occupations that show above average mental disorder claim rates, such as carers and aides or education professionals,” he said.
The overall percentage of mental disorder claims is relatively low at six percent of total workers’ compensation claims, but these claims are associated with relatively longer average time off from work involving higher compensation payments.
“The statistics indicate there is a need for occupation-specific support measures,” said Mr Mettenmeyer.
“The types of occupations of workers receiving compensation for a work-related mental disorder tend to be those who work in occupations which involve high levels of interaction with other people, often rendering a service to the public and often doing their job in difficult and challenging circumstances.”
These occupations include school teachers, health and welfare support workers, personal carers and assistants, nursing professionals, defence force members, firefighters and police.
Safe Work Australia is urging employers of workers in roles requiring significant interaction with people to consider incorporating employee support programs and good design principles.