Did death benefit claims fall last year?

Published 14 Oct 2014

Death benefit claims may have dropped last year, as new research reveals work-related compensated injury fatalities dropped to their lowest level in more than 10 years.

Safe Work Australia (SWA) data showed employers across Australia achieved targets to reduce the number of compensated staff deaths linked to workplace incidents since 2002.

In fact, according to SWA Acting Chief Executive Officer Michelle Baxter, businesses performed far better than expected.

"Over a decade ago, Australia set a national target of reducing the incidence rate of compensated injury and musculoskeletal disorder fatalities by 20 per cent by 2012," she explained.

"This report shows that as a nation we not only achieved, but surpassed this target, with a 41 per cent reduction in fatalities."

However, SWA noted that the general incidence rate of injury and musculoskeletal claims only dropped by 26 per cent over the same period, falling short of the 40 per cent target.

South Australia was the only state or territory to achieve the 40 per cent goal, while the ACT actually reported a rise in claims.

Fall in injury and critical illness claims

Meanwhile, the report acknowledged there has been a 6 per cent drop in the number of serious injury and disease claims over the last four years.

Between 2008-09 and 2011-12, the proportion of claims per 1,000 employees slumped from 12.8 to 11.

SWA said agriculture, fishing and forestry is the industry with the most serious claims - approximately 21 per 1,000 workers. This was followed by transport, postal and warehousing (19.1) and manufacturing (17.9).

Construction and the health & social services sectors were also considered problematic, recording 17 and 14.1 claims every 1,000 employees respectively. 

"To continue to see a decrease in injury and disease in the workplace we must stay committed to work health and safety and set high targets to ensure safer workplaces for all Australians," Ms Baxter stated.

"It is through raising awareness of work health and safety and encouraging workers to speak up about hazards that these figures will continue to drop."

Income protection claims

Those who suffer a workplace injury may be unable to return to their jobs for a significant amount of time.

The SWA report indicated that 11 per cent of compensation claims were for a period of 52 weeks or more in 2010-11. Around 19 per cent of people reported they were out of work for at least half a year.

An inability to earn money can create a significant burden on workers and their families, both financially and emotionally. This pressure only escalates the longer the injury lasts.

Income protection ensures employees can continue to support themselves and loved ones during this time for much-needed peace of mind.

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