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Safer, healthier, wealthier: The economic value of reducing work-related injuries and illnesses

Reducing work-related injuries or illnesses benefits everyone

Safe Work Australia commissioned Deloitte Access Economics to undertake a ground-breaking study that explores the cost of work-related injury and illness in Australia. The report uses an innovative modelling approach to estimate how much value could be created within the Australian economy by removing work-related injury and illness.

Work is central to economic life, but it is not a risk-free activity. In 2017-18,563,600 people, or 4.2 per cent of working people in Australia suffered awork-related injury or illness.[i] Of these incidents, 60 per cent resulted in the worker taking some time off work.[ii] Work-related injuries and illnesses occur in every industry, occupation, and sector. While the risks differ by industry and occupation, the prospect of becoming injured or unwell because of work has the potential to impact the people in every job in Australia.

Safe Work Australia (SWA) is an Australian government statutory agency tasked with developing national policy to improve work health and safety and workers’ compensation arrangements across Australia. SWA engaged Deloitte Access Economics (DAE) to use a computable general equilibrium (CGE) model, following the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, to help answer the question:‘what is the economic impact of removing all work-related injury and illness between 2008 and 2018?’. 

Our analysis suggested that when a worker experiences a work-related injury orillness, it is not only the individual and their community that suffers, it is the wider Australian workforce that loses the opportunity to access more and better jobs with higher wages. The key findings include:

  • On average Australia’s economy would have been $28.6 billion larger each year without work-related injuries and illnesses. In relative terms, this equates to a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) being around 1.6 per cent higher each year on average, which is nearly equivalent to the direct annual contribution to the economy from the Agriculture industry [iii]
  • The overall level of employment in Australia is estimated to increase by 185,500 FTE jobs each year on average over 2008 to 2018. More than two-thirds of these jobs (130,400 FTEs) are accounted for the skilled workforce, requiring education or training beyond school.
  • Wages are estimated to rise by 1.3 per cent each year on average. Gains in productivity – driven by the removal of work-related injuries and illnesses – would lead to workers across all occupations and skill levels benefiting from higher wages.. 

[i]Australian Bureau of Statistics, ‘Work-related injuries’, (July 2017 – June 2018), (Catalogue No 6324.0, 30 October 2018)


[iii]Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, ‘Snapshot of Australian Agriculture 2022’, (2022)

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