The United Kingdom sets the benchmark among first world Commonwealth countries when it comes to workplace safety, with the chances of an Australian being fatally injured in the workplace three times higher than a counterpart in Britain.
This was the finding of research conducted by Australian Accident Helpline, a national compensation firm that specialises in workers compensation claims.
The firm compared work fatalities among the following peer group Commonwealth countries; Australia, Britain, Canada, New Zealand and Singapore. Due to the incomplete figures or a total absence of WHS (workplace health and safety) records, it was not possible to extend the study to Commonwealth countries outside of this group. The results were conclusive: with 0.45 deaths per 100,000 workers arising from 144 fatalities during the period April 2017 to March 2018, Britain firmly sets the standard.
Singapore, with a rate of 1.2 fatalities per 100,000 workers, is the next safest. The Asia-Pacific island country recorded its lowest worker death toll in 14 years during calendar year 2017, reducing the number of workers killed by 36 per cent from 66 in 2016 to 42.
Australia follows with its latest Safe Work figures for 2016 reflecting a rate of 1.6 fatalities per 100,000 workers during a 12-month period in which 191 workers were killed.
In the same window, Canada’s fatality figures released by the Centre for Occupational Health and Safety revealed that 905 workplace deaths occurred in 2016 at a rate of 2.56 per 100,000.
Worksafe New Zealand has recorded a mortality rate of 2.89 per 100,000 over the past three years up until August 2017, marginally better than the United States, which is not a member of the Commonwealth and tallied 2.9 deaths per 100,000 workers in 2016.
This was in stark contrast to the United Kingdom, where the Health and Safety Executive said in statistical terms fatalities had remained broadly constant, with the number of workers killed in the past five years averaging 141.
HSE said: “In 2015 the standardised rate, at 0.51 per 100,000 employees, was one of the lowest of all European countries and compares favourably with other large economies such as France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Poland. Similarly, the UK three-year average rate for 2012-2014 (0.50 per 100,000 employees) was the lowest of all EU member states.”
The 191 worker fatalities recorded in Australia in 2016 were, according to Safe Work, the lowest since 2003. To date 83 workers have lost their lives in the workplace in Australia this year.
Australian Accident Helpline managing director, Liam Millner, said that Britain had achieved WHS success due to the consistently high standards enforced on all worksites, which Australia would battle to match until it had applied similar safeguards across the board.
“The problem in Australia is the huge contrast between work environments. On the one hand we have union led workplaces that subscribe to excellent standards of safety, but on the other, workplaces with no union presence have in some cases, a complete absence of WHS protocol and safety standards drop off the cliff,” Mr Millner said.