Occupational health and safety in Australia

Ind Health. 2012;50(3):172-9. doi: 10.2486/indhealth.ms1374.


The focus of OHS in Australia is on workplace-based prevention rather than individual health care. Over the past decade, workers' compensation data have shown continuous improvement in work-related deaths, serious injuries and diseases. Injuries from work-related vehicle incidents are the leading cause of fatalities. There is a high incidence of on-road incidents in light vehicles; this problem is under-recognised, and better incidence data are required to support more effective interventions. Rates of many long-latency diseases such as cancers are underestimated, and again more reliable information is needed, particularly on work-related exposures to carcinogens. Disease-related deaths are largely confined to older workers. Musculoskeletal injuries and disorders are the most frequent and costly OHS problem, constituting a large majority of non-fatal injuries and diseases. There is growing recognition that their risk management should be more evidence based, integrating assessment and control of psychosocial and 'manual handling' hazards. A high rate of population ageing is increasing risk of chronic diseases, including musculoskeletal disorders, which is helping to raise awareness of the importance of protecting and promoting workforce health. Strategies to achieve this have been developed but implementation is at an early stage.

MeSH terms

  • Aging
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Chronic Disease
  • Health Policy*
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / epidemiology
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / mortality
  • Occupational Health*
  • Public Health*
  • Risk Assessment / methods
  • Workplace