Above and below the line – safety statistics

Injuries incurred at work create a significant ripple effect, not only for the individuals involved, but those tasked with reporting, reviewing and remediating. It is a significant resource allocation in terms of direct financial and labour costs.

The latest Australian workers’ compensation statistics 2019-20 highlights include:

  • the number of serious injuries have decreased by 7% between 2009/10 – 2018/19, to 120,355
  • median lost time as a result of a serious injury risen from five to seven weeks.
  • Median compensation has risen to AUD$14,500

    This means that when serious injuries are occurring, it is taking longer to recover and costing more.

Cost of injury

Injury at work

Understanding injury costs

1. Below the line

What’s not reflected in the statistics are the hidden costs to an organisation, including:

  • Replacement staffing direct costs
  • Mental health impacts on staff involved in an incident
  • Business disruption
  • Those that fall under that threshold
  • Non-visible mental health injuries
  • Minor events not reported by staff

    So the importance of minimising negative safety events just got more important.

2. Injury and its true meaning

Reviewing statistics can detach a person from the reality of a negative safety event. It’s not until you review the NSW Work Health and Safety Act 2011 No 10 s36 legislative definition of serious injury that the severity of an event drives home. A précised summary of the definition includes:

an injury or illness requiring the person to have–

(a) immediate treatment as an in-patient in a hospital

(b)  immediate treatment for— a serious medical injury (an extensive list)

(c)  medical treatment within 48 hours of exposure to a substance

These criteria are shiver inducing, when you imagine the real world scenarios that created the serious injury.


As staff in parts of the world return to some form of organisational normalcy, and with Christmas approaching, it is easy to lose focus on safety. Take the time to stop, check and assess what needs to be done to ensure people get to go home safe. Can you afford not to?