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

About Injury Statistics – Work-related Claims

Injury Statistics – Work-related Claims measures claims accepted by ACC for work-related injuries. The statistics are based on one claim for each person for each injury event. Claims are only included if some costs are recorded – see Data quality for more information. 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. This is because not all work-related injuries result in a claim to ACC.

This data is used for monitoring the number and incidence of work-related injuries in New Zealand, and informing policy on reducing work-related injuries.

Definition of terms

Accident: the Accident Compensation Act 2001 (section 25) defines ‘accident’ as:

  • a specific event, or a series of events, that involves the application of a force (including gravity) or resistance external to the human body, or involves the sudden movement of the body to avoid such a force or resistance external to the human body, or a twisting movement of the body
  • the inhalation or oral ingestion of any solid, liquid, gas, or foreign object on a specific occasion, which kind of occurrence does not include the inhalation or ingestion of a virus, bacterium, protozoa, or fungi unless that inhalation or ingestion is the result of the criminal act of a person other than the injured person
  • a burn, or exposure to radiation or rays of any kind, on a specific occasion, which kind of occurrence does not include a burn or exposure caused by exposure to the elements
  • the absorption of any chemical through the skin
  • any exposure to the elements, or to extremes of temperature or environment.

Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC): this agency administers New Zealand’s accident compensation scheme, which provides no-fault personal injury cover for all New Zealand citizens and residents, and visitors to New Zealand. The ACC scheme is governed by the Accident Compensation Act 2001.

An ACC claim is made when treatment for an injury is first sought from any recognised health professional, such as a doctor, a physiotherapist, or a dentist. Claims that are accepted by the ACC are divided into different categories for funding purposes. Only those claims in the work-related category are included in this release. See Work-related claims for more information.

Age: specifies the injured person’s age in years, as at the date of injury, and is calculated from their date of birth. This age may differ from the worker’s age when the claim is lodged, the age when compensation is received, or the age at death (if the worker dies of the injury).

Body site of injury: the part or parts of the body injured in the accident.

Claim: a lodgement by a person or care provider requesting that ACC assists through paying for, or helping to pay for, medical, weekly compensation and/or rehabilitation costs associated with an injury. A person can have more than one ACC claim.

All claims registered by ACC are categorised according to the type of services the claimant goes on to receive. There are two main categories of claim used in this release (see Claims for medical fees only, and Claims involving entitlement payments for details).

Claims for fatal work-related injuries: claims made to ACC for deaths that resulted from workplace injuries (for example, a fatal work-related fall) or occupational diseases resulting in death, such as asbestos-related illnesses.

Claims for medical fees only: claims for which ACC has paid a health professional for medical treatment or service. About 85 percent of all ACC claims are in this category and often involve only one or two visits to a health professional.

A claim is deemed to be a medical fee only claim if the person has received medical or dental treatment, or counselling.

Claims involving entitlement payments: claims that have progressed past the medical fees only claim category. Compensation and support for returning to independence may have been required. Under the Accident Compensation Act 2001 (section 69), entitlements are:

  • rehabilitation, comprising treatment, social rehabilitation, and vocational rehabilitation
  • first week compensation
  • weekly compensation
  • lump sum compensation for permanent impairment
  • funeral grants, survivors’ grants, weekly compensation for the spouse or partner, children and other dependants of a deceased claimant, and child care payments.

Diagnosis of injury and illness/disease: the type of injury, illness or disease sustained by the worker, and recorded on the ACC claim by the treatment provider. Diagnosis is classified using the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, 10th revision, Australian Modification, Second Edition (ICD-10-AM).

For this release, where more than one diagnosis was provided the first diagnosis listed was used. Diagnoses are aggregated into three groups based on National Data Standards for Injury Surveillance (NDS-IS) recommendations (see the Data quality section for more detail).

Employment status: indicates whether a worker is self-employed (that is, working for himself/herself), or is an employee (working for another person or entity).

The employment status figures cover all those ‘working for wages and salaries’, including those working for employers who belong to the ACC partnership programme. The self-employed figures include those classified as ‘self-employed and not employing others’, but exclude those ‘working without pay or profit in a family business’. While this differs from the definition in the Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS), it corresponds closely to definitions used for workplace accident insurance.

Entitlement payments: see Claims involving entitlement payments.

Ethnic group: a self-identified variable that measures cultural affiliation and is distinct from terms such as race, ancestry, nationality, or citizenship. An individual may identify their ethnicity according to a number of characteristics including: 

  • a common name
  • one or more elements of common culture which may include religion, customs, or language
  • unique community of interests, feelings, and actions
  • a shared sense of common origins
  • a common geographic origin.

Fatal injury claims: see Claims for fatal work-related injuries.

Fatal injury payments: if someone dies as a result of an injury, ACC may help cover financial needs. Payments may include funeral grants, survivor grants, childcare payments, and weekly compensation for wages. These payments are paid to the deceased’s next of kin.

Final figures: for the purposes of this release claims are included in the tables under the calendar year in which the injury occurred. For final figures, claims are only included if some costs are recorded within 15 months of the end of the calendar year in which the injury occurred. This allows for a consistent comparison between the years. Although details of claims may change after this time (eg the claimant may die), the statistics in this release will not be updated to reflect these changes.

Full-time equivalent employees (FTEs): a standard measure used in labour force statistics, for example, to calculate average weekly earnings. FTEs are calculated as the number of full-time employees plus half the number of part-time employees.

It is used instead of ‘total number of employees’ for the calculation of the incidence rate, as part-time employees have a lower exposure to injury because they work fewer hours than full-time employees. This allows the denominator of the incidence rate to be expressed as units that each have approximately the same risk of work-related injury.

The FTE numbers used in this release are annual averages derived from the Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS), and are used to calculate injury incidence rates by age, sex, ethnic group, employment status, industry, occupation, and region where the injury occurred.

Geographic region: the part of New Zealand or the world where the injury event took place. The physical address or place of the injury event is classified according to the territorial authority (TA) in which it occurred. TAs are grouped into regions of New Zealand. There is also an additional group of codes for injuries that occurred outside New Zealand.

The regions reported in this release mostly align with regional council boundaries, but in a few cases TAs straddle these council boundaries. Those TAs have been assigned to the region containing the greatest proportion of their population, on the basis of the usually resident population count, 2001 Census. The TAs involved are Franklin, Waitomo, Taupo, Rotorua, Stratford, Rangitikei, Tararua, and Waitaki districts.

Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS): Statistics NZ’s quarterly Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS) produces a range of statistics on the employed, unemployed, and those not in the labour force.

The target population of the HLFS is the civilian, usually resident, non-institutionalised population aged 15 years and over. It therefore excludes:

  • people in non-private dwellings such as hospitals and prisons
  • visitors from overseas who are staying for less than 12 months
  • the armed forces
  • overseas diplomats in New Zealand
  • people living on offshore islands (except Waiheke Island).

The HLFS provides the FTE figures that are used in this release to calculate incidence rates (see Full-time equivalent employees for more detail).

Impairment: ACC defines impairment as ‘any loss or abnormality of psychological, physiological or anatomical structure or function.’ Level of impairment is used by ACC to determine eligibility for, and amount of, lump sum and independence allowance entitlements (see Permanent impairment assessment for more details).

Incidence rate: the number of work-related claims per 1,000 FTEs.

These rates are used to compare levels of injury and fatal injury claims between groups with different numbers of workers. This rate is used by the International Labour Organization to enable comparisons of work-related injuries between countries.

Independence allowance: a quarterly payment made to compensate a claimant for any long-term impairment they have as a result of an injury. This payment covers injuries that occurred before 1 April 2002, except for gradual process, sensitive, or medical treatment claims where different time-limits relating to the 2002 cut-off period apply. The injured person must have a permanent impairment assessment resulting in an impairment level of 10 percent or more to be eligible for the independence allowance (see Permanent impairment assessment for more details).

Industry: the type of activity carried out by the organisation, enterprise, business, or unit of economic activity that the injured person worked in.

Injury: the Accident Compensation Act 2001 (section 26), defines a ‘personal injury’ as:

  • death
  • a physical injury, or mental injury caused by a physical injury
  • mental injury caused by a criminal act of another person
  • work-related mental injury that is suffered by a person through witnessing a sudden traumatic event at work (added from 1 October 2008)
  • damage to dentures or prostheses that replace a part of the human body.

The Act 2001 also covers work-related gradual process, disease, or infection (see Work-related gradual process for more details).

Loss of earnings compensation: formerly termed ‘weekly compensation payments’, these are payments ACC makes to claimants who cannot work because of injury. The payment is based on 80 percent of weekly income before the injury occurred and compensates for loss of earnings (or potential earnings), until a certain point determined by ACC. A spouse, partner, or dependant of a deceased claimant may be entitled to loss of earnings compensation.

Lump sum compensation: a one-off non-taxable payment to compensate for permanent impairment resulting from an injury. This payment covers injuries that occurred on or after 1 April 2002. The injured person must have a permanent impairment assessment resulting in an impairment rating of 10 percent or more to be eligible for a lump sum payment (see Permanent impairment assessment for more details).

Mental injury: the Accident Compensation Act 2001 defines ‘mental injury’ as a clinically significant behavioural, cognitive, or psychological dysfunction.

Occupation: all occupations in this release relate to the injured person’s occupation at the time of injury.

Permanent impairment assessment: assessments for lump sum and independence allowance payments are fully funded by ACC and completed by an independent medical practitioner. They determine the amount of compensation, based on the level of permanent impairment sustained from the injury.

Level of impairment is assessed using the American Medical Association Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, fourth edition. It is an estimate of the proportion of the ‘activities of daily living’, such as eating or personal hygiene, that an average person is unable to do as a result of their injury. The level of permanent impairment must be 10 percent or more to be eligible for an entitlement. Examples at different impairment levels include:

  • 0 to 5 percent impairment: common lower back injury (not eligible for an entitlement)
  • 10 percent impairment: severe damage to the ligaments of the knee (would be eligible for an entitlement)
  • 32 percent impairment: amputation of the leg below the knee (would be eligible for an entitlement)
  • 80 percent or more impairment: paraplegia (would be eligible for maximum entitlement).

Provisional figures: all claims are included under the calendar year when the injury occurred. For provisional figures, claims are only included if some costs are recorded within three months of the end of the calendar year in which the injury occurred. For 2010, provisional figures are at 31 March 2011.

Rehabilitation: ACC defines rehabilitation to be a process of active change and support to help a person with an injury to regain his or her health and independence, and therefore the ability to participate in his or her usual activities, as far as is practicable.

Rehabilitation payments: these are payments made to claimants to support their rehabilitation. These payments include compensation for treatment, counselling, travel and accommodation for treatment, childcare, attendant care, equipment, and home modifications.

Scene of injury: describes the location where the injury occurred. It includes homes, farms, and roads or streets.

Weekly compensation payments: see Loss of earnings compensation.

Work-related claims: claims made to ACC for work-related injuries. The injury can be either due to an accident or have happened by gradual process related to the person’s work (see Work-related gradual process).

The Accident Compensation Act 2001 (section 28(1)) defines a work-related injury as an injury which happens when the worker is:

  • at his or her place of employment, including when the place moves (as it does for a taxi driver), or is a place to or through which the worker moves
  • having a rest or meal break at work
  • travelling to or from work in transport provided by the employer, or
  • travelling to or from work in order to receive treatment for a work-related injury.

Work-related gradual process, disease, or infection: includes changes to the body that develop slowly and progressively over time and result in personal injury, such as the effects of exposure to noise or fumes at a workplace or physical deterioration resulting from an activity you can carry out over the course of your work (such as keyboarding). Work-related gradual process is covered under the Accident Compensation Act 2001 (section 30).

When determining a gradual process claim ACC considers the following key elements:

  • whether the injury occurred over a period of four weeks or more
  • whether a characteristic of the work environment has caused the personal injury
  • whether the particular characteristic that has caused or contributed to the injury is present in the person’s non-work environment
  • whether the risk of personal injury is greater for people who work in the employment environment than those who do not.
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