Nearly 11,000 people are killed by accidents and injuries in Australia every year, with men accounting for 2 in 3 deaths.
Closing this “accidental gender gap” would save the lives of 3,000 men and boys a year and yet the Government’s Draft National Injury Prevention Strategy fails to target men and boys.
Here are 10 reasons we need to make injury a men’s health issue and ensure that Government action to tackle accidents and injuries makes men and boys a priority population.
According to the latest available data, men account for:
1. 93% of workplace deaths
Men spend nearly twice as many hours in paid work as women, doubling their exposure to the risks and benefits of work. For example, men account for 72% of work-related disease and two in three serious claims for workers’ compensation. In terms of workplace fatalities, 190 workers were killed at work in 2017 and 93% (176 of the 190 fatalities) of those workers were men.
2. 84% alcohol-related injuries
The burden of disease linked to alcohol and illicit drug use is three times higher in men than in women. In terms of alcohol-related injuries, the gap is wider still, with men accounting for 84% of the disease burden.
The categories of injuries where men account for the majority of health loss linked to alcohol use include motorcycle accidents (95.3%); drownings (92.4%); other unintentional injuries (91.7%); homicide and violence (88.3%); suicide (87%); falls (86.1%); fires, burns and scalds (85.8%) and traffic injuries (78%).
3. 81% of DIY injuries requiring hospitalisation
‘Do-it-yourself’ (DIY) means making, mending or maintaining something oneself around the home, rather than employing a professional or expert to carry out such tasks. Four in five DIY injury cases are male (81%).
The risk of being hospitalised for a DIY injury increases with age up until around 75. In 2013-14, DIY injuries were most frequent in men aged 55–74. Falling from a ladder was the most common cause of DIY injury
4. 75% of the years of potential life lost to injury
One way to measure the impact of different causes of death is by estimating the “potential years of life lost”. In 2018, there were 240,666 potential years of life lost to accidents and injuries. Men and boys accounted for 74.8 % of potential years of life lost (179,924 PYLL) and women and girls accounted for 25.2% of potential years of life lost (60,648 PYLL).
The burden of disease linked to accidents and injuries is three times higher in men that in women.
5. 3 in 4 suicides
Suicide is the leading cause of death by injury in Australia. It kills eight people a day on average, six men and two women. Male suicide is different from female suicide in a number of important ways that can help us target suicide prevention initiatives more effectively.
These differences are outlined in our report - Giving Men A Hand: the case for a National Male Suicide Prevention Strategy
6. 3 in 4 transport deaths
Transport accidents kill around four people a day in Australia and three of them are men and boys. There were 1,371 road deaths in Australia in 2017 (1,019 male and 352 female). Men and boys account for:
2 in 3 pedestrian deaths (123 of 187 fatalities)
7 in 10 car occupant deaths (494 of 725 fatalities)
85% of cyclist deaths (29 of 34 fatalities)
93% of motorcyclist deaths (205 of 220 fatalities)
7. At least 3 in 4 deaths by drowning
Nearly five people a week drown in Australian waterways. Four in five deaths are male. In 2019-2020, there were 248 fatal drownings, with men aged 25-64 accounting for around half of all deaths. For deaths categorised as “accident drowning and submersion”, which exclude drownings linked to water transport accidents, 3 in 4 deaths are male. Most drowning is linked to leisure and recreational activity and is more likely to occur in summer and at weekends.
8. 70% of potential years of life lost to death by falls
Falls are the second leading cause of death by injury in Australia, killing nearly 3,000 people a year. Men account for around 70% of the potential years of life lost to death by falls. The risk of men and boys being injured in a fall starts earlier in life. For example, boys and young men have significantly higher rates of hospitalisation than girls and young women of the same age. Seven out of 10 people under the age of 65 who die by falling each year are men.
9. 7 in 10 accidental poisoning deaths
Accidental poisoning is the fourth leading cause of death by injury in Australia, it kills 25 people a week and seven in 10 deaths are male. The number of male deaths by accidental poisoning has risen by 35% in the past decade from 687 deaths a year in 2009, to 926 deaths in 2018. Socio-economic status also plays a significant role in men’s risk of accidental poisoning. Men from the most the disadvantaged 20% of the population are:
2 times more at risk than the most advantaged 20% of men
2.2 times more at risk than women of the same social background
5.2 times more at risk than the most advantaged 20% of women
10. Nearly 7 in 10 homicides
More than 200 people a year die by homicide in Australia and nearly 7 in 10 (68%) of them are male. Just over 19,000 people (19,025) were hospitalised in Australia in 2014–15 because of an assault, of whom 67% (12,768) were men and boys.
In assault cases, hospitals are more likely to record information about the relationship of the perpetrator to the victim for women and girls (76% of cases) than for men and boys (46% of cases).
For boys aged 0–14, parents were the most common specified perpetrators of assault. Among young men (15–24), assaults by people unknown to the victim were more common, for victims aged 65+ the most commonly reported perpetrator was another family member.
Between 2014–15 and 2015–16, the National Homicide Monitoring Program recorded 218 domestic homicide victims from 198 domestic homicide incidents. Around two in five (41%, or 89) victims were male, with over 1 in 4 (28%) killed by an intimate partner.
ACCIDENTAL HEROES: Making death by injury a men's health issue (AMHF) was produced by the Australian Men's Health Forum and released on September 24.
This report sets out the facts around death from injury in Australia, of which two thirds of cases are men and boys. The report champions the work that is being done to address these statistics and calls on Government to name men and boys as a priority population in its National Injury Prevention Strategy, which is currently in draft form.
"Nearly 20 men and boys a day are dying from accidents and injuries in Australia," says the report, compiled by AMHF CEO Glen Poole.
"We can and must do more to tackle this issue.
"The Government cannot solve this issue on its own, but it can create the conditions for success.
"The Government can also play a major role in encouraging and enabling the broadest possible range of stakeholders to take action to save the lives of men and boys."