The State of Workplace Health and Safety in New Zealand - June 2011
Fewer Injuries and Fatalities
Chartbook work-related injuries
Chartbook of work-related fatal and serious non-fatal injury rates, New Zealand Injury Prevention Strategy (NZIPS) website: http://www.nzips.govt.nz/
A Chartbook of the New Zealand Injury Prevention Strategy (NZIPS) Serious Injury Outcome Indicators: 1994-2009, Gulliver P, Cryer C, Davie G. OR089, Injury Prevention Research Unit (University of Otago) Wellington: NZIPS Secretariat, ACC.
First published in 2006, the Chartbook was developed for NZIPS by the Injury Prevention Research Unit (IPRU) to provide a measure of New Zealand’s progress in reducing injury since 2003 (the start of NZIPS). There are also separate Chartbooks for Maori and children aged 0-14 years.
From 2011 Statistics NZ will publish the Chartbook annually as the official measure of frequency and rates of fatal injury and serious non-fatal injury in New Zealand. As Injury Information Manager, Statistics NZ is improving the quality and accessibility of injury information, aiming for a shared understanding and interpretation of injury rates (Statistics NZ Official Injury Information Plan 2010–12, (2010)).
The Chartbook measures “all” injuries, and injuries across each of the six NZIPS priority areas (workplace injuries; assault; suicide and deliberate self-harm; falls; motor vehicle traffic crashes; and drowning/near drowning). These account for at least 80% of New Zealand injury deaths and serious injuries. The indicators are the most valid available, but some, including work-related, are deemed “provisional” because the injury count could be impacted by other factors, e.g. policy changes or reporting behaviour. The focus is on injuries with serious consequences, i.e. fatal injury and injuries which have a 6% or greater chance of death.
The work-related fatal injury indicators are from ACC fatal injury claims, and the work-related serious non-fatal indicators combine ACC and hospital data (i.e. having a work-related ACC claim and being admitted to hospital). The data is high-level only, not granulated by industry, age, or occupation.
There is an unavoidable time delay, as ACC claims can be received later than the event year. The moving average means fatal injury data are another year behind.
Estimated projections of fatal and serious non-fatal injuries
The dotted lines on the Chartbook graphs are estimated projections, based on updated data provided to the Department of Labour on special request by the IPRU.
Technical: Estimated projections
To bridge the time delay inherent in other sources of injury data, projected trends for more recent years are estimated by:
- using fatal injuries notified to the Department of Labour in the current year to indicate the pattern of fatalities, and
- obtaining an update from the IPRU of fatal and serious non-fatal injury data, to estimate if there is any likely change in frequency/rate for more recent years.
The updated data provided by the IPRU did not cover a full calendar year – only 10-11 months were available – so estimates of full year data have been made using comparisons with previous years’ data.
The SoWHS does not use “serious harm” notifications to the Department of Labour as an official measure of work-related injury. The Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 defines the legislative criteria for when notification is required, and the notifications trigger departmental inquiries into incidents.
ACC work-related injury claims
SourceStatistics NZ Injury Information Portal: http://www.stats.govt.nz/
Statistics NZ annual 'Injury Statistics – Work-related claims' Hot off the Press releases and supporting tables.
Last published in October 2010, this report is produced annually by Statistics NZ, based on data from ACC claims for work-related injury and work-related illnesses compensated by ACC. It includes claims by calendar year from 2002, with provisional data for the latest year because claims for that year can still be updated and filed. Provisional years capture claims filed 3 months from the end of the calendar year, final years capture all claims filed within 15 months. Fatal injury claims are recorded in the year the injury took place, not the year of death (which differs from ACC reporting).
The Data is sorted by payment types into:
- All work-related injury and work-related illnesses compensated by ACC, recorded by frequency and rate per 1,000 FTE (full time equivalent workers; calculated by combining all full time plus half the part-time workers)
- Entitlement claims (including claims for weekly compensation, rehabilitation payments and fatal injury), recorded by frequency and rate per 1,000 FTE
- Fatal injury claims, recorded by frequency and rate per 100,000.
The data are broken down by sex, age, ethnicity, industry, occupational group, employment status, region, type/location of injury, and claim costs (noting that ~10% of claims do not identify industry). These breakdown figures allow more detailed analysis, noting that the data are not directly comparable with the Chartbook. Entitlement claims, at ~14% of all injuries, give an indication of more serious claims (which is different from the medical diagnosis used in the Chartbook serious non-fatal data).
The data is likely to under-report, e.g. it does not cover treatment provided only at hospital emergency departments, where costs are bulk funded by ACC directly to district health boards and recorded against individual claims.
International Work-Related Fatalities / 100,000 people
Sources and citation
This is a composite measure compiled for the SoWHS, so does not have a formal citation. The data comes from the Chartbook and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) database on labour statistics (LABORSTA): http://laborsta.ilo.org/
The New Zealand rate is the official rate of fatal injuries published in the Chartbook. The international comparisons are from the ILO Yearbook of Labour Statistics – Rates of occupational injuries, by industry. Data has been provided from 2002 to 2008 to coordinate with the Chartbook. New Zealand provides ACC claims data annually to the ILO, but has not provided a fatal injury rate during this period.
Country selection is based on choosing countries with whom New Zealand usually seeks to be compared in policy work on labour standards.
Genuine international comparison is almost impossible due to many differences in how jurisdictions record information (e.g. different rates – by workers, insured, FTEs), who they count (e.g. Australian data does not include self-employed), and different industry profiles (and their relative levels of safety). The difficulties of international injury comparison are summarised in the report: International Comparisons of Injury, Connor J, Langley J, Cryer C. September 2007, Injury Prevention Research Unit (University of Otago).
One international comparative study used a robust method for international comparisons, although the study is now fairly dated: Comparison of work related fatal injuries in the United States, Australia, and New Zealand: method and overall findings, Feyer et al, Injury Prevention Journal (2001), pp7:22-28. This found that New Zealand had the highest average annual fatality rate at 4.9 (per 100,000 workers), Australia had an intermediate rate at 3.8, and the United States had the lowest rate at 3.2. However, “much of the difference between countries was accounted for by differences in industry distribution”. Of note, New Zealand had a far higher proportion of workers engaged in agriculture, fishing and forestry. The study noted that while Australian and New Zealand data is more comparable, the United States data collection method likely underestimates the occurrence of work related fatal injuries.
Priority Sector ACC entitlement claims / 1,000,000 hours worked
Injury statistics: Statistics NZ Injury Information Portal.
Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS) data compiled from 2003 for the Department of Labour
This is a composite measure drawn from Statistics NZ data sources: the frequency of ACC entitlement claims in Statistics NZ’s annual 'Injury Statistics – Work-related claims' releases; and the hours worked from the HLFS.
This measure has been set up to track high-level performance of the five “priority” sectors in the Workplace Health and Safety Strategy National Action Agenda (Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing, Construction, and Manufacturing), as these sectors have consistently high rates of injury. Tracking data granulated by industry is not as statistically robust as the Chartbooks, but does give an indication of performance.
Data is tracked from 2003 to 2008 to coordinate the two sources of data. Entitlement claims (used as an indicator of more serious injuries) are granulated by industry to level 1 of the Australia New Zealand Standard Industry Classification index (ANZSIC). ANZSIC level 1 codes aggregate the “sectors” of agriculture, forestry and fishing. Some of the datasets at ANZSIC level 2 (for both entitlement claims by industry and hours worked) were too small for statistically robust comparison.
There are limitations in the data, as the industry is not known for about 10% of entitlement claims.
The hours worked denominator makes the rate more sensitive to people working variable hours or where there are high numbers of part-time workers. Statistics NZ uses FTE rates in its tables, which has a similar effect but is slightly less sensitive. For comparison with FTE rates, approximately a million hours worked per year equates to approximately 500 FTE.
The overall rate of entitlement injury claims has remained steady in 2008, but when looked at by industry the rate increased for each of the priority sectors. Provisional 2009 data is not showing the same increase.
Employment in the priority sectors was severely affected by the economic downturn in 2009. Growth remains fragile and is also likely to be affected by the February 2011 Christchurch earthquake. Updated labour market information is on the Department of Labour’s website.