Work Health and Safety (WHS) is critical to Australian productivity and prosperity.
According to a new report from Safe Work Australia, reducing workplace injuries and illnesses will significantly improve productivity and provide more jobs and higher wages.
“Safer, healthier, wealthier: The economic value of reducing work-related injuries and illnesses” technical report from Safe Work Australia shows the Australian economy would have been substantially better off if there had been no work-related injury or illness between 2008 and 2018.
During that time, there was an average of 623,663 workplace injuries and illnesses a year. This led to significant productivity losses arising from absenteeism and presenteeism, as well as ongoing losses to labour supply from work-related deaths and injuries or illnesses causing permanent incapacity.
These long-term productivity losses will continue to influence the Australian economy through to 2065. Further costs incurred by the health system totalled $3.4 billion annually, while annual payments of $4.5 billion went towards workers’ compensation and other financial costs.
Better jobs with higher wages
If there had been no workplace injuries and illnesses over that period, Australia’s economy would have been $28.6 billion stronger each year. Along with an additional 185,500 jobs every year.
This impact would have translated to a 1.6 percent increase in GDP every year, which is comparable to the current direct contribution of the Australian agriculture industry.
When an Australian worker experiences a workplace injury or illness, it’s not only them, their families and communities that suffer; the wider Australian workforce also loses the opportunity to access more and better jobs with higher wages.
Work is a vital component of life. Many of the same physical, psychological and social elements that influence overall wellbeing also determine workforce participation.
Keep workers safe and healthy
Advances in safety and medicine have allowed Australians to live longer, healthier and more productive lives. But this brings an increased risk of workplace accidents and illnesses, which can cause debilitating injuries.
Although the risk of being injured at work in Australia has decreased in the last 10 years, there are still 220,000 workers injured each year.
The cost to society is high, with each workplace injury costing on average $35,000 and ongoing flow-on effects.
Keeping people safe and healthy at work produces substantial and long-lasting positive benefits.