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Climbing the fatalities ladder: the hard facts nobody wants to read

Nobody in Queensland wanted to read the statistics released by Safe Work Australia this month, but they also should steel our resolve to change our safety culture, so no one is ever forced to endure the pain of losing a loved one to a work-related incident.

Queensland claimed the second rung on the ladder for the most workplace fatalities last year. We lost 49 of our mates, and the country lost 195. When is enough, enough? We’ve lost too many, and many, far too young.

In 2022, workers aged 45 and over accounted for almost two thirds (62%) of all worker fatalities recorded. Workers aged 65 and over had the highest fatality rate at 6.2 fatalities per 100,000 workers (more than 4 times the overall worker fatality rate of 1.4 fatalities per 100,000 workers). Younger workers aged under 25 years old had the lowest fatality rate (0.8 fatalities per 100,000 workers), closely followed by those aged 25-34 (0.9 fatalities per 100,000 workers).

No-one ever wants to hear these stories, and that includes the safety regulator. We never want to respond to the anguish of a workplace incident but our people turn up over and over to investigate what led to the tragedy so we may learn how to avoid it happening again. We see some of the worst things you could imagine, but we’re in it for you, for your employees and loved ones, so everyone can go to work and get home safely.

While Workplace Health and Safety Queensland is here to provide you with information, tools and resources, and while we have extensive regulatory powers to enforce the laws, it’s the business owners and operators who have the primary obligation to protect our workers.

It's time for the toughest toolbox talk you've had. Don't shy away from these statistics, we all have a responsibility in this. At your disposal is a regulatory arsenal of codes, practical advice, short films, technical guidance, experts and everyday Queenslanders with lived experience who can visit your workplace to get everyone focused on improving health and safety.

What more do you need? Where can we assist you to be stronger? Let us know – We want to know your thoughts on creating a better Queensland that lives the values of this proud working state.

Further information

Read the Key work health and safety statistics Australia 2023 report or learn more about how we can assist to make your safest workplace.