Safe Work Australia unveil 2020 work fatality statistics

Safe Work Australia recently released its 2020 work fatality statistics. Here, we’ll explore the vast statistics of fatalities at work and the effectiveness of the strategies aiming to establish healthy, safe and productive working lives.  

Where we’re at

In 2020, the Australian fatality rate at work was 1.5 workers per 100,000 workers. These are just a few of the key statistics recorded in 2020.

  • 194 workers were fatally injured at work
  • 41% of fatalities were caused by vehicle collision
  • 3 out of 4 fatalities involved a vehicle
  • Transport, postal and warehousing industries had the highest number of fatalities (49)

Source: Work-related Traumatic Injury Fatalities, Australia (2020).

Since its recorded peak in 2007, the national worker fatality rate has decreased by 50%. Even prior to the Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012 – 2022, this downward trend is a very positive sign. However, continuous improvements are required to establish a healthy, safe and productive environment for all working Australians.

The current Strategy in place is The Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012 – 2022 which outlines a 10-year framework in collaboration with all of the relevant bodies to achieve a reduction in worker fatalities and incidents. The three main goals outlined in the strategy are as below:

  1. A reduction in the number of worker fatalities due to injury by at least 20%
  2. A reduction in the incidence rate of claims resulting in one or more weeks off work by at least 30%
  3. A reduction in the incidence rate of claims for musculoskeletal disorders resulting in one or more weeks off work by at least 30%

With transport, postal and warehousing industries as the leading source of Australian workplace fatalities, the need is evident for greater road and driver safety efforts. This is reflected in the current Strategy and future recommendations. 


Where we’re heading 

So far, the mid-term review shows very positive signs, with evidence to suggest that we’re on track to reach or surpass all three targets outlined in the Strategy. However, it does state that a continued focus on reducing fatalities in road freight transport is priority with road freight transport continuing to experience some of the highest fatality rates across all other industries.

This is made evidently clear in the more recent 2021 truck driver death toll figures, recording 50 lives lost last year, almost double that of the 26 lives taken in 2020. Furthermore, according to the Transport Workers’ Union’s recent survey of 1,100 truck drivers, almost half of all surveyed reported they knew of somebody who lost their lives whilst on the job. Though sudden surges in demand can be partly to blame for the immense pressure on our drivers, the Transport Workers’ Union is calling out for more preventative action within the industry.

So, how do we protect workers in one of Australia’s most hazardous industries? 

Research shows that human error is the overwhelming cause of collisions on Australian roads, with vehicle faults and road conditions only to blame for a fraction. In fact, 84% of all road collisions are considered avoidable

With continuous advancements in technology, we now have the proven ability to help workers and employers understand how collisions and near-collisions can be avoided (the root cause), and alert them to correct behaviours before a collision occurs. 

As the exclusive reseller for the Lytx DriveCam Safety Program in the Southern Hemisphere, we provide industry-leading driver safety monitoring systems that enable fleet operators to identify and correct unsafe behavioural patterns. Globally, DriveCam has been deployed to over 900,000 vehicles, protecting more than 1.5 million drivers and field staff every day. 

We believe everybody deserves to return home from work safely, and with the proven success of technological advancements, we’re confident more can be done to support our road freight transport workers and their families.


If you found this article interesting, you might also like The National Road Safety Strategy 2021 – 30.


*Source: Work-related Traumatic Injury Fatalities, Australia (2020).

*Source: The mid-term review of the Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012-2022 (2017).

*Source: Truck driver death toll doubles in 2021 (2021).

*Source: Horror truck survey reveals deaths, wage theft as transport workers fight to protect safe standards (2021). 

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