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Injury Statistics – Work-related Claims: 2010
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  19 October 2011
Commentary

The figures presented in this information release are for claims accepted by the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) for work-related injuries. The statistics are based on one claim for each person for each injury event. The information covers all claims for work-related injuries, including claims involving entitlement payments (where compensation and support for returning to independence may have been required) and claims for fatal injuries.

The data in this information release are not a definitive count of all work-related injuries, because not all result in a claim to ACC. This commentary describes both the number of claims and the incidence rate (measured as the number of claims per 1,000 full-time equivalent employees (FTEs)). See the Definitions section for more information.

The figures released for the first time are provisional statistics for 2010 and final statistics for 2009 (both as reported by 31 March 2011). This commentary focuses on the provisional statistics for 2010, with trends in work-related injuries for 2002–09 at the end.

Over 200,000 work-related injury claims in 2010

Provisionally, there were 209,700 claims for work-related injuries that occurred in the 2010 calendar year. The provisional incidence rate was 109 work-related injury claims per 1,000 FTEs. Of all claims, 11 percent (24,000) resulted in entitlement payments. This includes payments for weekly compensation and rehabilitation necessary for returning to independence. The 209,700 claims were made by 187,300 people. Most people (90 percent) lodged only one claim. Most claims (89 percent) were for medical fees only.

Highest injury claim rates for males and older workers

Provisional claims by age and sex: In 2010, 150,800 work-related injury claims were for males. This is equivalent to 72 percent of all claims. The incidence rate for males (139 claims per 1,000 FTEs) was almost twice as high as for females (71 claims per 1,000 FTEs).

The graph below shows that in 2010, workers aged 45–54 years made more claims for work-related injuries than any other age group, with 49,700 claims. Workers aged 65 and over (65+) made the least number of claims, with 11,300 claims. This is because there are a small number of workers in this age group.

 Graph, Work-related injury claims, by age group, 2010.

The incidence rates across the age groups show a different pattern (see graph below). Although in 2010 workers aged 65+ made only 5 percent of all claims, they had the highest incidence rate (166 claims per 1,000 FTEs). Workers aged 15–24 years had the second-highest incidence rate, with 129 claims per 1,000 FTEs.

 Graph, Incidence rate of work-related injury claims, by age group, 2010.

Provisional entitlement claims by age and sex: Three quarters of entitlement claims in 2010 were for males. The incidence rate for males (17 claims per 1,000 FTEs) was more than double that for females (7 claims per 1,000 FTEs).

Similar to the pattern for all work-related claims, in 2010 workers aged 45–54 years lodged more entitlement claims than any other age group, with 5,700 claims. This was 24 percent of all entitlement claims. Workers aged 65+ made the fewest entitlement claims, with 2,000 claims (8 percent).

The 65+ age group had an incidence rate of 29 entitlement claims per 1,000 FTEs in 2010. This was much higher than the rate for the other age groups, which varied between 10 and 15 entitlement claims per 1,000 FTEs.

The younger age groups (15–44 years) made up a smaller percentage of all entitlement claims than all claims. In contrast, people in the older age group (55 years and over) made up a slightly larger proportion of entitlement claims than all claims. For example, the 65+ age group comprised 5 percent of all claims; however they comprised 8 percent of all entitlement claims.

Entitlement claims made up a larger proportion of total claims as age increased. For example, entitlement claims for workers aged 15–24 years made up 10 percent of all claims in their age group, while entitlement claims for workers aged 65+ comprised 17 percent of all claims in their age group.  

Pacific peoples have highest incidence rate of injury claims in 2010

Pacific peoples had the highest incidence rate of 136 claims per 1,000 FTEs, compared with 108 for Māori, and 101 for European people. Asian people had the lowest incidence rate of 64 claims per 1,000 FTEs.

Provisionally in 2010, Europeans lodged 149,200 claims for work-related injuries. This figure represents 71 percent of all work-related claims. Māori lodged 11 percent of claims (23,700 claims) and Pacific peoples and Asian people each lodged 6 percent of claims (12,500 claims and 12,200 claims each, respectively).

 Graph, Incidence rate of work-related injury claims, by ethnic group, 2010.

For most of the ethnic groups, the incidence rates were highest for agriculture and fishery workers. The only exception was Māori; the highest incidence rate in this ethnic group was for workers in elementary occupations (eg labourers, refuse collectors, cleaners).

Four occupation groups dominate injury claim rates

Provisional claims by occupation: Occupation describes the injured person’s job at the time of their injury. In 2010, trades workers lodged the most claims for work-related injuries (37,500 claims), with 18 percent of all claims. This occupation includes building trades workers, metal and machinery trades workers, and precision trades workers. The second- and third-highest numbers of claims were lodged by agriculture and fishery workers (31,100 claims), and plant and machine operators and assemblers (30,400 claims). These two occupations each comprised 15 percent of total injury claims.

The graph below shows that the highest incidence rates of work-related injury claims were for:

  • agriculture and fishery workers (241 claims per 1,000 FTEs)
  • trades workers (202 claims per 1,000 FTEs)
  • elementary occupations (200 claims per 1,000 FTEs)
  • plant and machine operators and assemblers (188 claims per 1,000 FTEs).

The incidence rates for each of these four occupation groups were more than double the rates for any other occupation. The lowest rates were for the clerks and professionals occupation groups, which had 39 and 40 claims per 1,000 FTEs, respectively.

 Graph, Incidence rate of work-related injury claims, by occupation, 2010.

Provisional entitlement claims by occupation: In 2010, the occupation groups with the highest overall incidence rates also had the highest rates for entitlement claims. Plant and machine operators and assemblers had the highest incidence rate, at 31 entitlement claims per 1,000 FTEs. Agriculture and fishery workers, and workers in elementary occupations both followed closely with an incidence rate of 28 entitlement claims per 1,000 FTEs. Trades workers had an incidence rate of 21 entitlement claims per 1,000 FTEs.

Plant and machine operators and assemblers also had the highest proportion of claims resulting in entitlement payments (16 percent).This was higher than the overall proportion of claims resulting in entitlement payments (11 percent).

Agriculture, forestry, and fishing industry has highest claim rate

Provisional injury claims by industry: Industry describes the main type of activity carried out by the organisation that the injured person worked for. Workers in the manufacturing industry lodged the highest number of claims, with 32,700 work-related claims (16 percent of all claims). This was followed by claims lodged by workers in the construction industry (23,900 claims), and the agriculture, forestry, and fishing industry (22,300 claims). These two industries each had 11 percent of all claims.

The incidence rate of work-related claims was highest in the agriculture, forestry, and fishing industry, with 170 claims per 1,000 FTEs. This was followed by construction, manufacturing, and cultural and recreational services. The finance and insurance industry had the lowest rate, at 20 claims per 1,000 FTEs.

For the majority of industries, males made more claims than females. However, in some industries that tend to be female-dominated, women made more work-related claims than men. These industries include accommodation, cafes, and restaurants; finance and insurance; education; and health and community services.

The industry of the workplace was not specified for 20 percent of work-related injury claims in 2010. For this reason, the figures for claims by industry should be interpreted with caution.

 Graph, Incidence rate of work-related injury claims, by industry, 2010.

Provisional entitlement claims by industry: The distribution of entitlement claims across industries was similar to the distribution of all claims. The highest incidence rates of work-related entitlement claims were for the:

  • agriculture, forestry, and fishing industry (26 entitlement claims per 1,000 FTEs)
  • construction industry (21 entitlement claims per 1,000 FTEs)
  • manufacturing industry (20 entitlement claims per 1,000 FTEs).

The proportion of entitlement claims in which the industry was unknown (9 percent) was less than the proportion for all claims (20 percent), but was still high enough that the results should be interpreted with caution. 

Biggest cities have lowest injury claim rates

Provisionally, the Auckland region had the most work-related injury claims in 2010, with 59,800 claims. This reflects the size of the region's population. However, the graph below shows that Auckland’s incidence rate was third-lowest (103 claims per 1,000 FTEs). The regions with the highest incidence rates were:

  • Gisborne/Hawke’s Bay (153 claims per 1,000 FTEs)
  • Northland (147 claims per 1,000 FTEs)
  • Bay of Plenty (140 claims per 1,000 FTEs).

Wellington had the lowest rate, with 63 claims per 1,000 FTEs.

Auckland also had the highest number of entitlement claims (5,500), accounting for 23 percent of the total entitlement claims. However, this region had the second-lowest incidence rate, at 10 entitlement claims per 1,000 FTEs. The highest rates of entitlement claims occurred in:

  • Northland (18 entitlement claims per 1,000 FTEs)
  • Otago/Southland (17 entitlement claims per 1,000 FTEs)
  • Tasman/Nelson/Marlborough/West Coast (17 entitlement claims per 1,000 FTEs).

The Wellington region had the lowest rate, with seven entitlement claims per 1,000 FTEs.

 Graph, Incidence rate of work-related injury claims, by region, 2010.  

Sprains and strains leading type of claims

Type of injury: Provisionally, the most common type of claim for work-related injuries in 2010 was sprains and strains, which accounted for 90,600 claims (43 percent). More than one-third of entitlement claims were also for sprains and strains. The number of claims lodged for sprains and strains was considerably higher than the number for open wounds and contusions, which were the second and third most common types of injury resulting in a work-related claim.

The majority of work-related claims were in the category ‘injury, poisoning, and consequences of external causes’ (88 percent), and 11 percent were categorised as an illness or disease. Note that these statistics are based on the year that an injury occurred, and many occupational diseases may not become apparent until many years after the exposure to hazardous substances. As such, the number of claims for work-related illnesses and diseases underestimates the true count of work-related illnesses and diseases incurred in any one year.

Body site of injury: Provisional 2010 figures show that the most common body sites for work-related injury claims were:

  • lower torso (abdomen, lower back, lumbar spine, and pelvis), at 38,000 claims (18 percent of all claims)
  • wrist and hand, at 35,700 claims (17 percent of all claims)
  • head and neck, at 29,900 claims (14 percent of all claims). 

Pike River mining explosion affects fatal claim figures

Overall, the provisional number of claims for fatal work-related injuries in 2010 was 82. Males made up 95 percent of these claims. Workers aged 65+ accounted for 23 percent of all fatal claims. The mining and construction industries jointly had the highest number of work-related fatal claims, with 13 claims each. The agriculture, forestry, and fishing industry followed closely with 12 fatal claims. However, information on industry should be interpreted with caution because the industry was not known for 24 of the fatal claims (29 percent). 

Pike River injury claims

The explosion in the Pike River coalmine on 19 November 2010 resulted in the deaths of 29 miners on the West Coast of the South Island. This affected the number of claims for fatal work-related injuries in the provisional 2010 data. Note that not all of the claims had costs recorded against them by the end of March 2011, and as a result not all are included in this release. The effects of the explosion on the provisional data for fatal injuries are mainly seen when looking at occupation and geographic region. Provisionally, in 2010 there were:

  • 30 fatal claims for plant and machine operators and assemblers, compared with 9 claims in the 2009 provisional data
  • 23 claims made in the Tasman/Nelson/Marlborough/West Coast region, compared with 6 in the provisional 2009 data.

Trends show that total number of claims is falling

Although the final number of work-related injury claims increased slightly each year from 2002 to 2005, from 2006 the number of claims has continued to fall each year (to 215,700 in 2009).

 Graph, Work-related injury claims, by year of injury, 2002 to 2009.

The final incidence rate has decreased each year since 2002, from 143 work-related claims per 1,000 FTEs to 114 in 2009 (see graph below).

The number of claims involving entitlement payments has fluctuated with no clear pattern between 2002 and 2009, with a lowest value of 29,600 (in 2009) and a highest value of 34,900 (in both 2005 and 2006). Each year entitlement claims represented 13–15 percent of all claims.

 Graph, Incidence rate of work-related injury claims, by year of injury, 2002 to 2009.

Males consistently dominate claim figures

Males consistently accounted for just under three-quarters (71 to 74 percent) of all work-related claims each year between 2002 and 2009.

In each year, males also had a higher incidence rate than females, but the rate for males decreased from 183 claims per 1,000 FTEs (in 2002) to 144 (in 2009). The rate for females has also decreased over this period from 88 claims per 1,000 FTEs (in 2002) to 75 (in 2009).

Older workers making more claims each year

Between 2002 and 2007, workers aged 35–44 years consistently made the most claims each year (see graph below). This trend changed in 2008, when the 45–54-year age group took over as the leading age group making claims. This trend continued in 2009.

While workers aged 65+ remain the lowest claimants overall (comprising 3 to 5 percent of all claims), the number of claims lodged by this age group has increased, rising steadily from 6,800 claims in 2002 to 11,800 in 2009. This reflects New Zealand’s ageing population and larger numbers of people aged 65+ remaining in the workforce.

 Graph, Work-related injury claims, by age group, 2002 to 2009.

The graph below shows a gradual decline in the incidence rate of claims for all age groups since 2002. However those aged 65+ consistently have the highest claim rate, followed by workers aged 15–24 years.

 Graph, Incidence rate of work-related injury claims, by age group, 2002 to 2009.

Claim rates for elementary occupations fall

Between 2002 and 2009, workers within five occupation groups consistently made the highest number of claims: plant and machine operators and assemblers; trades workers; agriculture and fishery workers; service and sales workers; and workers in elementary occupations (such as labourers, refuse collectors, and cleaners). However, the ordering of these groups varied between individual years.

The elementary occupations group had the highest incidence rate of work-related claims between 2002 and 2007. However, in 2008 agriculture and fishery workers became the group with the highest rate; the incidence rate for this group has continued to rise in 2009 (see graph below).

The large amount of workers in sales and service occupations means the incidence rate of work related claims per 1,000 FTEs for this group is not as high year by year as for the other leading claim groups.

 Graph, Incidence rate of work-related injury claims, by selected occupations, 2002 to 2009.

 

For more detailed data see the Excel tables under 'Downloads'.

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