Statistics obscure risks in primary industries

Wednesday 21 Mar 2018

Australia - Agriculture, forestry and fishing has been named the most dangerous industry in Australia, according to a independent analysis of Safe Work Australia data released in January.

Statistics show 44 workers died in agriculture, forestry or fishing in 2016 and over 3,500 people suffered serious injuries in the same time period. The analysis found transport, postal and warehousing was the second most dangerous industry, followed by construction and manufacturing.

Australian Forest Products Association chief executive Ross Hampton said it frustrated industry leaders data on forestry was bundled into an overall group, as forestry only accounted for a small percentage of injuries and fatalities.

“The issue of safety in our industry is a challenge for us in terms of the impression it can create,” he said.

“Despite our efforts to have authorities to disaggregate the data to deal with forestry industry separately from the rest of agriculture, we are always bundled in overall group.

Mr Hampton said there had been a push in the last decade to move people off their feet in forests to inside safe machines.

“It has been quite a deliberate move to move away from individuals in the bush with a chainsaw and much more toward machines with safety cages and all the extra protections that go with that,” he said.

“It would be helpful if the work safe authorities would separate the forestry statistics because combining the industries can lead to a skewed impression of how safe or otherwise it is working in forestry.

“It would provide a more valid and real picture for young people who may be interested in forestry for example that if they could see the real statistics.”

“But we only make up around 10 percent of that overall workforce (agriculture, forestry and fishing) and around four per cent of workplace industry or death. There is no disaggregation from Safe Work authorities at where dangers are in that sector.”


Editor - Due to misinformation by third parties as outlined above, people can misunderstand how safe work is organised and planned in forest industry companies.

One example of how much care and attention goes into ensuring workers and their workplaces have minimised exposure to undue risk is the popularity of FIEA's forest safety conferences in both Australia and New Zealand.

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