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The Most Dangerous Workplace Industries

Australia’s most dangerous industries have been revealed, with analysis showing one person dies on the job every two days.

Australia’s most dangerous industries have been revealed, with analysis of data showing one person dies on the job every two days on average.

For the fourth year in a row, jobs grouped into the agriculture, forestry and fishing sectors were the riskiest in the country in 2017, with 52 fatalities and 3620 serious injury claims.

According to analysis by consumer comparison website, deaths in the industry rose 18 per cent year-on-year.

Graham Cooke, insights manager at, said transport, postal and warehousing is the second most dangerous industry, with 54 deaths in 2017, up nearly 15 per cent on the previous year, and 8330 serious injuries.

“We expect that danger to grow over the next few years with the boom in online shopping delivery and the popularity of people ordering food to their homes via apps,” Mr Cooke said.

“That industry is growing in demand and activity, so we expect those numbers could rise.”

Even though the sector had more deaths and injuries, it employs far more people and therefore the likelihood of fatalities and injuries is lower than in agriculture, forestry and fishing.


Coming in third in the danger stakes was the construction industry, with 30 deaths in 2017 and 13,280 serious injury claims.

“Nearly three-quarters of all fatalities occurred in those top three industries,” Mr Cooke said.

“Over the past three measured years (2017, 2016 and 2015), there have been 387 deaths in agriculture, forestry and fishing, transport, postal and warehousing, and construction — more than twice that of all other industries combined.”

Across all industries, 190 workers died on the job and 176 of them, or 93 per cent, were men.

“If we look at how people died, over 60 per cent involved vehicle-related accidents. Road vehicles but also things like forklifts.

“Anyone working in or around vehicles are most at risk. Although 15 per cent of deaths involved heights of some sort.”

New South Wales was the state with the most workplace deaths in 2017 with 62, while the Australian Capital Territory was the safest with just one fatality.

Of all deaths that year, the largest number occurred among workers in the 55 to 64 age group.

On average, one Australian is injured every five minutes and Safe Work Australiachair Diane Smith-Gander said taking a moment to consider workplace safety can have a big impact on injury and death.

“A safety incident can happen in a moment and in any workplace, but a moment’s forethought can prevent harm,” Ms Smith-Gander said.

Prevention can be as simple as taking a few minutes to regularly discuss hazards and risks with workmates and supervisors, she said.

“Anyone can do this, from the worksite to the boardroom, from those on the factory floor to the CEO. Everyone can contribute to making their workplace safer and healthier.”

On the other end of the risk spectrum, financial and insurance services is the safest industry, with 585 serious injuries and two fatalities in 2017.

Surprisingly, there has been an 11 per cent spike in serious injuries in the administrative and support services industry, Mr Cooke said.

“It’s not that they’re completely lacking danger. Sitting at a desk for eight hours a day still takes a toll in some cases.

“It’s an example of why it’s important to have some kind of income protection insurance, regardless of your occupation.”

Data on workplace deaths in 2018 is incomplete, but early analysis shows 152 workers were killed on the job.

And as of January 24, there have been at least five workplace deaths this year.