A new report commissioned by SafeWork Australia estimates the cumulative increase to Australia’s GDP by removing work-related injuries and illnesses between 2008 and 2018 would have totalled $315 billion.
Work health and safety critical to Australia’s prosperity
SafeWork Australia released the findings of the study Safer, healthier, wealthier: The economic value of reducing work-related injuries and illnesses on 24 October. The release of the report coincided with National Safe Work Month.
The study identified productivity losses to the tune of 2.2 million full time equivalent jobs, increased employer overheads (estimated at $4.5 billion per year) and costs to the health system (estimated at $3.4 billion annually throughout the reference period).
The study concluded that, were it not for workplace injury and illness:
- There would have been 185,500 additional FTE jobs each year
- We would have seen average annual increase to wages of 1.3%
- Australia’s economy would be $28.6 billion larger every year
The additional jobs would have been created from the flow-on effect of an increased demand for goods and services if workers remained well and at work.
According to the study, jobs would have been created primarily within the Construction, Business Services, Trade, and Health Care and Social Assistance industries, and the majority of them would represent skilled roles.
Michelle Baxter, CEO Safe Work Australia says this report demonstrates just how important health and safety is to Australia’s economy, as well as workers and employers.
“The findings clearly demonstrate that work health and safety is critical to our prosperity, driving economic and productivity improvements.
Workplaces that are safe and free of injury and illness provide benefits for all Australians, including more jobs and better pay. I consider this research provides a strong platform for Safe Work Australia and other policy makers to change the conversation from ‘how’ to do health and safety, to ‘why’ we do health and safety,” said Ms Baxter.
Deloitte Access Economics (DAE) was engaged by SafeWork Australia to estimate the economic impact of eliminating all work-related injury and illness in Australia.
The study applied a reference period of 2008-2018, representing a relatively stable economic period for Australia, pre-COVID.
This study is believed to be the first research conducted under the World Health Organization’s Guide To Identifying the Economic Consequences of Disease and Injury and focusing on the wider economic impact of work-related injury and illness.