The data on occupational injuries and diseases contained in the
National Workers' Compensation Statistics database have been
compiled by the National Occupational Health and Safety
Commission (NOHSC) from information supplied by Commonwealth,
State and Territory workers' compensation authorities. These
agencies processed workers' compensation claims received from
insurance companies, self-insurers and some government
departments. Most of the data supplied accorded with the
recommendations of the National Data Set for Compensation-based
Statistics (NDS). The data are generally the latest available
from each jurisdiction.
The denominators used to derive incidence and frequency rates
were calculated by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)
using data from two of their collections, the Labour Force
Survey and the Survey of Employee Earnings and Hours.
Scope and Coverage
The National Workers' Compensation Statistics database is
comprised of claims for workers' compensation made under the
Commonwealth, State and Territory workers' compensation Acts
which resulted in a fatality, permanent disability or a
temporary disability resulting in an absence from work of one
week (5 working days) or more.
The statistics do not cover all occurrences of occupational
injuries and diseases for the following reasons:
the Australian Capital Territory are not available;
disability occupational injuries resulting in absences from
work of less than one week (5 working days) have not been
compensated under general Commonwealth, State and Territory
workers' compensation legislation are included. Excluded,
therefore, are occurrences covered under separate legislation
for specific groups of workers;
personnel within the defence forces are not included;
claimed as workers' compensation or not acknowledged as being
a work-related injury are excluded; and
occupational injuries to the self-employed are excluded
because such workers generally are not covered for workers'
compensation. (Note: the exclusion of self-employed persons is
likely to result in an understatement of the number of
occurrences for industries where self-employed persons are
common, for example, Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing,
Construction, Road Transport and Retail Trade.
Nevertheless, incidence and frequency rates data are more
reliable as the denominators used in the calculation of the
rates have been adjusted to also exclude self-employed
persons. Moreover, the type of occurrence data should be
broadly representative of the industry experience as a whole).
Incidence and Frequency Rates
The incidence rate of occupational injuries and diseases
is the number of occurrences expressed as a rate per 1,000 wage
and salary earners employed. Such rates were calculated using
the following formula:
occupational injuries and diseases
number of wage and salary earners
The frequency rate of occupational injuries and diseases
is the number of occurrences expressed as a rate per million
hours worked by wage and salary earners. Such rates were
calculated using the following formula:
occupational injuries and diseases
number of hours worked
Caution should be used in interpreting fatalities data as
workers' compensation coverage of fatalities has some
deficiencies, for example where there are no heirs to lodge
claims or in the case of long latency diseases. In addition,
jurisdictions do not apply a standard definition as to what
constitutes a compensable fatality.
Type of Occurrence Data
Details of the "description of the occurrence" reported on the
workers' compensation claim have been coded according to the
Type of Occurrence Classification System.
The four classifications used to describe the type of injury or
disease sustained by the worker and the way in which it was
Location of Injury/Disease;
The nature of injury/disease refers to the most serious injury
or disease sustained or suffered by the worker.
The bodily location of injury/disease refers to the part of the
body affected by the most serious injury or disease.
The mechanism of injury/disease is the action, exposure or event
which is the direct cause of the most serious injury or disease,
that is, how exactly the injury or disease was sustained.
The breakdown agency refers to the object, substance or
circumstance that was principally involved in, or most closely
associated with, the point at which things started to go wrong,
and which ultimately led to the most serious injury or disease.
The following example is given to assist in explaining the above
terms using the description of occurrence reported on workers'
A forklift truck ran into a stack of wooden crates causing them
to fall onto a worker resulting in severe lacerations to the
worker's face and chest and a minor fracture to the forearm.
The first step in the coding process requires the identification
of the most serious injury or disease. The "severe lacerations
to the face and chest" carries the potential of permanent facial
disfigurement and therefore, that should be identified as the
most serious injury, indicating that the nature of injury
should be "open wound not involving traumatic amputation" (code
The bodily location of injury code should be determined
by the most serious injury. The bodily location of injury,
therefore, should be identified as "head and other" (code 630).
The mechanism of injury is also related to the most
serious injury sustained. From the information contained in the
description, the injury was sustained through the crates falling
on the worker. Therefore, the appropriate mechanism of injury is
"being hit by falling objects" (code 21).
Determination of the breakdown agency is dependent on the
identification of when things started to go wrong. From the
description, it is when the forklift ran into the stack of
crates that things started going wrong. The product, process or
equipment that was most closely associated with this event was
the forklift itself. Therefore, the breakdown agency should be
identified as the forklift, which falls into the category
"forklift trucks" (code 158).
It should be noted that the "Other" category used in the type of
occurrence graphs and tables does not represent occurrences
which have not been fully and/or appropriately classified, but
represents the sum of all the remaining categories which,
individually, would be insignificant.
Duration of Absence
Information relating to duration of absence from work should be
examined with caution for the following reasons:
duration of the period off work for the more serious cases
reported in any one year may not be known for some time after
the close off date (updated information for duration of
absence will be supplied by jurisdictions for these more
serious cases covering a period of two years after the
reference year which should improve the utility of these data
considerably and enable more valid jurisdictional comparisons
of data from previous years); and
differences in the scope of data collections in some
jurisdictions, associated with the effect of employer excess
on threshold provisions, may impact on the number of short
duration claims reported.
Comparison of data for the most recent year with previous
periods' data should be undertaken with caution. There is
variation in the methods employed by the various jurisdictions
to process claims and jurisdictions have not always been able to
provide claims data at precisely the same point in time.
Moreover, in analysing trends over time, consideration needs to
be given to the extent to which jurisdictional-specific
legislative changes have occurred during the period concerned
and are reflected in movements in number, incidence and
frequency rates from year to year.
Several jurisdictions had insufficient information to allocate
appropriate codes for a number of data items. In these cases the
code for "Not Stated" was assigned.
Reliability of Data
The data are subject to both non-sampling and sampling errors.
Non-sampling errors may affect both the numerator and
denominator data. These errors may occur because of errors in
the reporting, recording and processing of data. Non-sampling
errors may occur in any statistical collection.
Non-sampling errors can occur as a result of the following:
deficiencies in the forms used to collect data;
recording of answers by the respondent or the processing
non-response or omitted cases;
collection procedures; and
data entry, editing and processing.
It is difficult to measure the size of the non-sampling errors.
Their size may vary from collection to collection and even
within a collection from data item to data item. Nevertheless,
the agencies collecting and processing data attempt to minimise
as far as possible non-sampling errors through various means,
for example, editing data for accuracy, consistency and
The denominator data used in the calculation of incidence and
frequency rates are the only data in this database which are
subject to sampling error.
The sampling error is a measure of the variability that occurs
by chance because a sample, rather than the entire population,
is surveyed. One measure of the likely difference is given by
the standard error, which indicates the extent to which an
estimate might have varied by chance because a sample was
selected. Sampling variability is also measured by the relative
standard error, which is obtained by expressing the standard
error as a percentage of the estimate to which it refers.
Incidence and frequency rates with high relative standard errors
(greater than 50%) have not been included in the tables, graphs
The denominator data used in the calculation of the rates data
were derived in accordance with the methodology developed by the
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). The ABS estimated the
denominator data from two of their collections: the Monthly
Labour Force Survey and the Survey of Employee Earnings and
Hours. The Monthly Labour Force Survey data have been adjusted
to exclude Commonwealth employees, as identified in the Survey
of Employee Earnings and Hours.
The way in which the denominators were calculated limits the
level of analysis possible for incidence and frequency rates. In
addition, those rates relating to jurisdictions with relatively
small numbers of persons employed should be viewed with caution.
Users with technical queries about the methodology used to
estimate the denominator data or about the sampling errors
associated with the data should contact the Labour Force
Sub-section, Australian Bureau of Statistics
PO Box 10, BELCONNEN ACT 2616, telephone (02) 6252 6525.
Reports produced on this database have been adjusted to ensure
adherence to NOHSC confidentiality practices. This includes the
suppression of small cell values and random adjustments which
have been applied to all individual cell values to ensure that
confidential information about employers and employees is
protected. For this reason, and because of the effect of small
differences between the data supplied, differences will occur
between the totals and the sum of the row and column values and
between tables (these differences can be either positive or
negative). It should be noted that information relating to
individual fatalities has not been treated as confidential, by
agreement with the data suppliers, as this information is a
matter of public record.
The terms "occupational injuries" and "occupational diseases",
as defined in the NDS are repeated below. Their use and
definitions are in accordance with the resolutions of the
Thirteenth International Conference of Labour Statisticians,
All employment injuries whic h are the result of a single
traumatic event occurring while a person is on duty or during a
recess period and where there was a short or non-existent
latency period. This includes injuries which are the result of a
single exposure to an agent(s) causing an acute toxic effect.
All employment injuries which result from repeated or long term
exposure to an agent(s) or event(s), and employment injuries
which are the result of a single traumatic event where there was
a long latency period, for example, the development of hepatitis
following a single exposure to the infection. It should be noted
that workers' compensation data are not an ideal measure of the
extent of work-related disease as many disease occurrences do
not result in compensation claims for a variety of reasons.
The industry within which the occupational injury occurred was
classified in accordance with the ABS classification, the
Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification
(ANZSIC), 1993 edition (ABS Cat. No. 1292.0).
The occupation of the injured worker was classified in
accordance with the ABS classification, the Australian
Standard Classification of Occupations (ASCO2), First
Edition, September 1986 (ABS Cat. No. 1222.0).
More statistical data and information on a range of OHS-related
topics is available through the NOHSC website. The web address
The following standard symbols are used:
New South Wales
Australian Capital Territory
Australian Bureau of Statistics
Australian Standard Classification of Occupations
Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial
National Data Set for Compensation-based Statistics
not elsewhere classified
National Occupational Health and Safety Commission
not available for separate publication due to
denominator data equal to zero or relative standard error
greater than 50 per cent