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Performance analysis

Performance criterion 1

Activities in the operational plan are delivered to the expected quality, on time and within budget.

Performance criterion 1 relates to Safe Work Australia’s ability to deliver on the activities identified in the operational plan.

Under section 4 of the Safe Work Australia Act, Safe Work Australia is required to prepare an operational plan outlining the activities that are to be undertaken to achieve its outcomes for the year. An agency work plan is also prepared which details the specific projects that will be undertaken in support of the operational plan activities. Both plans are prepared in consultation with Safe Work Australia Members.

In March 2020, with the agreement of Members, Safe Work Australia prioritised its response to COVID-19 and in doing so paused a number of activities in the agreed operational plan. Pausing these activities allowed Safe Work Australia to allocate additional resourcing to support a national WHS approach to the pandemic, central to which has been the rapid development of a hub of guidance and tools for Australian workplaces to help them manage the health and safety risks posed by COVID-19. At the appropriate time, the activities in the operational plan have been, and will continue to be, resumed in consultation with Safe Work Australia Members, taking into consideration each Member's capacity to contribute, and based on each activity's relative priority.

As part of the 2019–20 annual performance reporting cycle, a survey of Safe Work Australia Members and the Chair was undertaken. They were asked to rate their level of satisfaction in relation to Safe Work Australia’s achievements against the activities outlined in the operational plan.

Members considered this in the context of both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 achievements. Of the responses received, 91.6% indicated they were either satisfied or very satisfied with Safe Work Australia delivering on the activities outlined in the operational plan. Members and the Chair also indicated a high level of satisfaction that COVID-19 was appropriately prioritised.

Performance criterion 2

Reductions in the incidence of work-related death, injury and illness through:

  • an improved and reformed WHS framework
  • increased WHS awareness
  • developing and maintaining an evidence base which informs policy and practice
  • reduced exposure to work-related hazards causing injury and illness, and
  • improved quality of workplace controls.

The second performance criterion relates to Safe Work Australia’s ability to contribute to a reduction in the incidence of work-related death, injury and illness. Safe Work Australia does this by implementing the strategies identified in the corporate plan and completing the activities detailed in the operational plan. The targets for this criterion mirror the national targets outlined in the Australian Strategy.

The guide Measuring progress towards targets: reducing the incidence of work-related death, injury and illness explains how progress on the Australian Strategy’s targets is measured. Given the nature of the datasets and the processing of workers’ compensation claims, this data generally has a 2-year to 3-year lag.

The latest available data demonstrates:

  • a 36% decrease in the number of traumatic injury fatalities (see Figure 1), from 270 fatalities in the base period to an average of 173 per year over the 2017–19 period. The target for work-related fatalities was met in 2011–13, and the number of fatalities has continued to fall each year since then. If current trends continue, the reduction in work‑related fatalities will exceed the reductions required to meet the target of at least a 20% reduction by 2022.
  • a 26% decrease (see Figure 2) in the incidence rate of serious claims between the base period and 2017–18. The current rate is 9.4 serious claims per 1,000 employees down from 12.5. This decrease is on track to meet the target of at least a 30% reduction by 2022.
  • a 31% decrease (see Figure 3) in the incidence rate of musculoskeletal claims between the base period and 2017–18. The current rate is 5.2 claims per 1,000 employees, down from 7.5. The target for musculoskeletal disorders was met in 2017–18 and remains on track for a reduction of at least 30% by 2022.

These decreases are likely to have been influenced by a combination of factors, including legislative and policy reforms, increased awareness of WHS issues and positive changes across a range of industries and workplaces.

FIGURE 1: Graph depicting the number of traumatic injury fatalities, Australia, base period (2007–2010) to 2020–2022
NUMBER OF TRAUMATIC INJURY FATALITIES, AUSTRALIA, BASE PERIOD (2007–2010) TO 2020–2022

FIGURE 2: Graph depicting the incidence rate of serious compensated claims, Australia, base period (2009–10 to 2011–12) to 2021–22
INCIDENCE RATE OF SERIOUS COMPENSATED CLAIMS, AUSTRALIA, BASE PERIOD (2009–10 TO 2011–12) TO 2021–22

FIGURE 3: Graph depicting the incidence rate of serious compensated musculoskeletal claims Australia, base period (2009–10 to 2011–12) to 2021–22.
INCIDENCE RATE OF SERIOUS COMPENSATED MUSCULOSKELETAL CLAIMS, AUSTRALIA, BASE PERIOD (2009–10 TO 2011–12) TO 2021–22