• Peter Bateman
    228
    Each year Safe Work Australia releases data on work injury claims accepted by compensation bodies in each state and territory - and including NZ.

    The latest report is available here and makes sobering reading (the Part 1 report).

    In the various Australian schemes the rate of serious claims went down by 9% in the four years between 2013-14 and 2017-18, while it went up by 25% in New Zealand over the same period. (Serious claims are those in which the claimant is away from work for at least a week.)

    In 2018-19 (for which data is provisional given some claims are yet to be accepted), there were 9.4 serious claims per 1000 workers in Australia compared to 15.8 in New Zealand.

    Australia's H&S performance is clearly superior. Many Forum members will have worked in Australia. What can we learn and apply?
  • Steve H
    220
    Each year Safe Work Australia releases data on work injury claims accepted by compensation bodies in each state and territory - and including NZ.

    The latest report is available here and makes sobering reading (the Part 1 report)
    Peter Bateman

    Would be interesting to know what Australia spends on their H&S regulator Peter, anyone got a line on that? A higher level of enforcement might be part of the answer, given that broadly speaking, we're using largely similar legislation.

    Another part of the equation, could be Australian Companies and organisations fear of litigation driving greater compliance, I have long held the belief that the ACC Act has a negative effect or at best no effect, encouraging the she'll be right attitude common here.
  • Peter Bateman
    228
    The Part 2 report (same link) answers your question about regulatory spending, at least in terms of regulator's resources. The ratio of inspectors across jurisdictions is roughly comparable.

    I'm particularly interested in hearing from people with significant work experience in Australia: what have you noticed about their H&S practice or culture which stands out?
  • Craig Marriott
    203
    I think we need to be a bit wary about cross country comparisons as there are so many other factors that may influence the numbers. There is no direct industry comparison in this report between Aus and NZ. The different proportions of high risk industries may skew the overall data, as may the proportion of SMEs, but we don't know.
    Also, although the overall incidence appears higher in NZ, the percentage of injuries above 6 weeks time off is far higher in Australia and >1year is three time higher over there. Is this to do with the injuries, or the way the different compensation schemes work? If the injuries, does this mean we're actually performing better over here in terms of those very long term/permanent major injuries?
    The important question to me is not the comparison, but why the NZ figures have gone up significantly and understanding whether this is a real increase or a change in reporting/systems? Is this us getting worse, or stopping fudging our numbers to avoid arbitrary LTI definitions? The latter would tally well with an increase in overall rates, but a lower proportion of very long term impacts. But I wouldn't like to speculate without better understanding of all the underlying factors, which we don't get from this.
  • MattD2
    237
    Also, although the overall incidence appears higher in NZ, the percentage of injuries above 6 weeks time off is far higher in Australia and >1year is three time higher over there. Is this to do with the injuries, or the way the different compensation schemes work? If the injuries, does this mean we're actually performing better over here in terms of those very long term/permanent major injuries?Craig Marriott
    Or is it the case of the Brodie Helmet - Australians survive what would be a fatal incident in NZ but suffer longer term injuries as a result.
    Also I would expect that NZ's ACC system shouldn't have much of an influence on this data as Australia has a statutory requirement for all employer to have Workers Compensation Insurance, so basically ACC but for work injuries only.
    The important question to me is not the comparison, but why the NZ figures have gone up significantly...Craig Marriott
    I completely agree with this Craig. We need to stop the pissing contests and concentrate on what matters - not the numbers at the end of any given the day, but what we are doing to improve in general.
  • PaulReyneke
    32
    I agree with you Craig (and Matt). I have once been asked by a company to compare their performance with Australian companies listed on the ASX (I unfortunately cannot find the original report - this is the best I could find https://www.aihs.org.au/news-and-publications/news/which-companies-have-highest-and-lowest-injury-rates). The report is not new (2017), but it still makes the point

    I will (attempt to) add my slightly redacted report to this. It shows the points Craig and Matt made: statistics often create unintended (or intended?) misunderstandings. And being Kiwi's, we are so sensitive to comparisons with the 'magic' world out there, we lap it up as the truth

    I have worked for several companies with both NZ and Australian divisions, and I in all honesty cannot say the one country is better than the other. In some cases, the Aussies were better, in others Kiwis were superior. Overall, we are much of a muchness.
    Attachment
    Analysis of Injury Statistics - No name (36K)
  • PaulReyneke
    32
    In case you didn’t notice, UGL, BlueScope Steel, Iluka Resources and Orica (all heavy industrial companies) had lower LTI rates than ANZ Bank. I always knew banks were dangerous places, that’s why I don’t take calls from my Bank Manager any longer!
  • Andy Bunyan
    8
    One can look much closer to home to see some key facts and figures. In isolation the figures appear to rise year on year in spite of the inception of WorkSafe and the adoption of WHS as our very own HSWA in April 2016.

    Might it be the case that aside to lagging WHS by a few years (during which time we all find our feet) we did not take the whole package of regulations that supplemented WHS when hauling it across the Tasman? Might Australia perform more safely for the sake of more vigorous regulation in areas such as construction?

    A good discussion point - here are those local numbers

    https://data.worksafe.govt.nz/graph/summary/injuries_week_away

    https://data.worksafe.govt.nz/graph/summary/fatalities
  • Amy Richards
    27
    Some general insights I’m quite happy to share.

    Australians are by nature more forthcoming. In the workforce I think this trait means they rely less on things like pyschcological safety to say their minds and raise issues. They literally just say it! Kiwis will put up with a lot more and conditions in the workplace have to deteriorate until they get quite bad before we will pipe up and say something.

    I’ve often wondered if having had so many years of heavy industry work (mining, O&G, offshore, LNG, drilling etc) in Australia has helped with the core safety knowledge of the workforce as over the years I’m sure a lot of people have passed thru these workplaces. Working in these environments is a bit like safety bootcamp, its dictatorial and domineering, and I’m not saying it’s right, but when you come out the other end the basics of safety have been drummed into you so much that nothing else ever becomes a problem. You can tell the people in NZ who have worked this experience because usually their core safety knowledge is elevated and they are more confident managing and discussing safety. I’d be interested to know if this has ever been studied.

    From a process point of view the high risk work licence (HRWL) scheme in Australia is much better than the NZQA framework. Its easy to understand, very clear, and in my experience is the training is better. Take forklifts for example, in Oz it’s a two day course, in NZ its 4 hours if the trainer is having a slow day. Then NZ has this F endorsement of which the bureaucracy of having this put on your licence can take longer than the course itself (I’m in a small town where the licensing agency struggles with this task and it can be very frustrating). Whether this system contributes to incident rates I don’t know, but I can vouch that it is definitely very clear and easy to use.

    Overall though I believe that success is not measured by comparing ourselves to others. Success is comparing ourselves to ourselves and asking the question: are we a safer country, a better place to work, a better industry of safety professionals, than we were yesterday? Or last month? Or last year?
  • Steve H
    220
    Overall thou I believe that success is not measured by comparing ourselves to others. Success is comparing ourselves to ourselves and asking the question: are we a safer country, a better place to work, a better industry of safety professionals, than we were yesterday? Or last month? Or last year?Amy Richards

    Easy to answer that Amy, serious injury outcomes 2000-2019, no. I wonder if a higher rate of union membership in the Western Islands might help explain some of the difference, what do you think?
  • Amy Richards
    27
    There were three major unions in the industry I used to work in over there and membership on projects was mandatory. They definitely held a lot of influence and it was not uncommon to hear staff say they would be contacting the union. So they always had them to check in with and have their back when needed, hence likely increasing the ability of staff to put forth a challenge on safety terms. However, I've not worked in this space in NZ so cannot offer a comparison.
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