When talking about an issue as sensitive as work-related death, it is easy to overlook the importance of data. Researchers have used this data to identify some significant patterns in work-related deaths across Victoria, paving the way for changes that will make our workplaces safer.
In Australia, responsibility for these changes has traditionally sat with Coroners, however, they are often limited by a lack of knowledge around the bigger picture of public health and workplace safety.
In 2007, WorkSafe worked closely with the Victorian Institute for Forensic Medicine (VIFM) to start the Work-Related Fatalities Database.
This database was set up to pool all new and existing data around workplace fatalities in one place, in the interests of facilitating more productive, "big picture" analysis.
In 2011, the database contained more than 2,000 Victorian work-related fatality cases from 2000 – 2009.
Led by Professor Joan Ozanne-Smith from the Monash Department of Forensic Medicine, the research team combed the database for any significant trends or patterns and compared them to other jurisdictions in Australia and internationally to identify opportunities for improvement.
The team's objective was to deliver evidence-based recommendations for WorkSafe's health and safety policies and practices.
At the completion of this project, the team delivered reports on a number of research areas, including:
- Out of vehicle truck driver fatalities
- Suicide and work-related stress
- Work-related suicide stressors
- Caught in machinery fatalities
The reports all feature recommendations for change or early intervention to reduce the risk of fatalities.
The team also produced a general overview of the existing Work-Related Fatality Database, using its data to broadly outline the extent of work-related fatalities in Victoria, the nature of these fatalities, and the common risks/factors contributing to them (including at-risk population groups and workplace practices).
- A descriptive analysis of work-related fatal injury in older workers in Australia, 2000-2009
- Expanding definitions of work-relatedness beyond the worker
- Fatal injury in tree felling and related activities, Victoria, Australia, 1992-2007
- The prevalence of work-related deaths associated with alcohol and drugs in Victoria, Australia, 2001-2006
- Work-related suicide
- Occupational death investigation and a prevention model for coroners and medical examiners