On average, three workers have died each week in Australia this year as a result of work-related injuries or illnesses.
The highest number of recorded fatalities occurred in the transport, postal and warehousing
sector, which have accounted for 42 deaths so far in 2015.
Unions meeting in mid-October to consider health and safety and workers compensation issue said that those numbers showed how much still remains to be done to improve the safety of Australian workplaces.
Data from Worksafe Australia also shows that 531,800 workers are injured – 118,000 of those seriously – each year, costing Australia more than $60 billion annually.
An additional area of concern that the ACTU conference focused on was workplace mental health and bullying. Despite the introduction of anti-bullying legislation in 2014, unions believe that workplace bullying remains under-regulated and affects both men and women causing long term physiological issues and in
the worst cases, death.
In 2012-13 (the latest data available), 9.4% of all serious Workers Compensation claims made by women were for mental disorders and there was a 17% increase in the number of serious claims caused by mental stress.
ACTU Assistant Secretary, Michael Borowick, said that health and safety was another area where the federal government was failing Australians.
“Employers, governments and unions must work together to ensure safety is at the highest level in our workplaces because we can do a lot better than we currently are,” he said.