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Trucking ‘most dangerous workplace in Aust’

New report exposes poor safety standards in trucking; death rate higher than any other workplace

By Brad Gardner | December 7, 2009

A new report has exposed poor safety standards in the trucking industry, with the death rate marking road freight transport as Australia’s most dangerous workplace.

Safe Work Australia’s latest report on the number of workers and bystanders killed due to work-related injuries says the sector made up 19 percent of all industry fatalities.

The Work-related Traumatic Injury Fatalities, Australia 2006-07 report says the 56 deaths pushed the fatality rate to 37.6 deaths per 100,000 workers. The national average is 2.8 deaths per 100,000.

According to the findings, the construction industry accounted for 18 percent of industry deaths with 52 fatalities, while agriculture, forestry and fishing was 15 percent with 45 deaths. Agriculture was 11 percent and forestry and logging was 2 percent.

The number of deaths in the road freight industry pushed the transport and storage sector’s fatality rate from 11.9 percent in 2004-05 to 15.7 percent in 2006-07.

“…the most significant observation is that the fatality rate in agriculture, forestry and fishing declined after its 2004-05 peak of 18.7 deaths per 100,000 workers, while transport and storage experienced a sharp rise in 2006-07 to the highest rate of any industry division,” the report says.

TRUCK DRIVING THE MOST DANGEROUS PROFESSION
According to the findings, road and rail transport driving across all industries is the most dangerous occupation, accounting for 78 fatalities or 26 percent of deaths caused from injuries while working.

“This includes 59 truck drivers, who alone comprised 20 percent of the total, and 12 delivery drivers,” the report says.

“The highest fatality rates were among road and rail transport drivers (25.1 deaths per 100,000 workers)…”

Furthermore, the 53 truck-related fatalities made up 18 percent all workplace deaths, with motor vehicles accounting for 17 percent (49 deaths).

The next most dangerous profession was farming, with farmers and farm managers accounting for 12.1 deaths per 100,000 workers.

The report’s findings are based on data from compensation claims, occupational health and safety legislation and coronial data.

Of the 453 work-related deaths identified, Safe Work Australia says 295 people died of injuries sustained while working.

Transport and storage, agriculture, forestry and fishing and construction made up 171 of the 295 workplace fatalites.

Most deaths involved road crashes, with the report saying they accounted for 35 percent or 103 fatalities.

The report says 93 workers died commuting to and from work, while there were 65 bystander fatalities.

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