Physical and psychological stress costs Australians $30 billion a year

Safe Work Australia published a new report which shows that physical and psychological stress costs Australians more than $30 billion a year or half the total cost of workplace injury.

According to the report, the total cost of work-related injury and diseases can now be assessed at $60.6 billion a year, despite the country’s recording of its lowest number of work-related mortalities since 2003 to 2004.

The Safe Work Australia report shows that physical stress combined with mental stress make up half of the cost of work-related disease and injury. News Limited reports that cost of workplace illness among managers was $9.6 billion a year, injuries to labourers $7.9 billion and $10.6 billion to tradespeople. The report also showed that workplace death and injury was worth about 5 percent of Australia’s total economic output.

The report coincides with labour force data showing that Australians were working millions of hours more since the GFC. While the statistics did not draw a direct link between longer working hours and illness and injury, the Safe Work Australia report said that “over one-third of the total number of cases and total economic cost are associated with body stressing or manual-handling cases.

“Mechanisms more associated with disease, such as sound and pressure, biological factors and mental stress, have a higher unit cost than those associated with injuries (such as falls and trips).

“While mental stress cases comprise 4 percent of the … cases, they contribute 9 percent of the total cost.”

In a news report by the Herald Sun, Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten will announce this week, a campaign aimed at encouraging workers to speak up about workplace safety, and call for annual reporting to Parliament.

“I’m urging people to speak up about unsafe work practices and to take the gag off,” Mr Shorten told the Herald Sun.

“You don’t need a PhD to know when something’s not safe. After there’s a fatality people say why didn’t someone tell us there was a problem. I’m urging workers to tell employers about unsafe practices now.”

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