Australia loses the equivalent of 41,000 full-time workers each year due to workplace-related injuries and illnesses. 

In a recent study, researchers analysed data from occupational injury claims to estimate the number of people taking time off work due to workplace injuries and illnesses, and the duration of these absences. 

The study, covering the period from 2012 to 2017, found that approximately 41,000 working years were lost annually, with around 150,000 individuals needing time off each year.

The types of injuries resulting in the most significant loss of working years were traumatic joint and muscle injuries, accounting for 40 per cent of the total. 

Musculoskeletal disorders followed at 20.7 per cent, while mental health conditions were the third most common cause, representing 13 per cent of the lost working years.

In a retrospective population-based study, Monash University researchers analysed data from the National Dataset for Compensation-based Statistics (NDS). 

The setting included workers aged 15 to 100 years who had lodged claims for compensable injuries and diseases that resulted in time off work and wage replacement benefits during the specified period.

The main outcome measure was the number of working years lost (WYL) per annum, which totalled 41,194 years. 

The annual WYL number and rate were higher for men, with 25,367 WYL/year and a rate of 42.6 WYL/10,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) years, compared to women, who experienced 15,827 WYL/year and a rate of 38.8 WYL/10,000 FTE years.

The study also found that older workers (aged 45 to 100 years) made 44.1 per cent of all claims but accounted for 52.8 per cent of the total working years lost, amounting to 21,763 WYL/year. 

This reflects the slower recovery rates of older workers and their longer absences from the workforce.

Traumatic joint and muscle injuries led to 16,494 WYL/year (40 per cent of all WYL), musculoskeletal disorders to 8,547 WYL/year (20.7 per cent), mental health conditions to 5,361 WYL/year (13 per cent), fractures to 4,276 WYL/year (10.4 per cent), and wounds and lacerations to 3,449 WYL/year (8.4 per cent).

The study authors call for population-based monitoring of lost working time to enhance occupational health surveillance, policy development, and resource allocation, thereby protecting the health of Australian workers.

More details are accessible here.