Skip navigation

Worked to death: every 2 days an Australian man dies at work

Every two days in Australia, a man will go to work and never come home. That’s the stark reality behind the most recent Government statistics.

In 2017, 190 workers were killed at work and 93% (176 of the 190 fatalities) of those workers were men.

Age Matters

The number of men who die at work increases with age. According to  Work Safe Australia:

  • 1 in 4 men who die at work under 35 years old
  • I in 3 men are aged 35 to 54
  • 2 in 5 are aged 55 and over

The deadliest industries

Nearly three quarters of workplace deaths (72%) occur in three industries:

  • Transport, postal and warehousing (54 fatalities/28%)
  • Agriculture, forestry and fishing (52 fatalities/27%)
  • Construction (30 fatalities/16%)

The relative risk of different industries is calculated by comparing the rate of fatalities per 100,000 workers. The highest risk industries in 2017 were:

  • Agriculture, forestry and fishing (16.5 fatalities per 100,000 workers)
  • Transport, postal and warehousing (8.6 fatalities per 100,000 workers)
  • Arts and recreation services industry (3.5 fatalities per 100,000 workers)
  • Construction (2.7%)

Danger: men at work

A small number of occupations account for the majority of workplace deaths. In 2017 these were:

  • Labourers (56 fatalities/29%)
  • Machinery operators and drivers (55 fatalities/29%)
  • Farmers and farm managers (21 fatalities/11%)
  • Technicians and trades workers (17 fatalities/9%)

Causes Of Death 

In 2017, the most common causes of death were:

  • Vehicle collisions (60 worker fatalities/31%)
  • Being hit by a moving object (35 worker fatalities/18%)
  • Falling from height (28 worker fatalities /15%)
  • Being hit by a falling object (19 worker fatalities/8%)

The safest states

The risk of workplace death varies around Australia with workers in the Northern Territory being around 13 times more likely to die that those in the ACT. The rate of deaths in 2017 for States and Territories were:

  • 1 fatality in the ACT (0.4 per 100,000 workers)
  • 36 fatalities in VIC (1.1 per 100,000 workers)
  • 20 fatalities in WA (1.5 per 100,000 workers)
  • 62 fatalities in NSW (1.6 per 100,000 workers)
  • 14 fatalities in SA (1.7 per 100,000 workers)
  • 45 fatalities in QLD (1.9 per 100,000 workers)
  • 5 fatalities in TAS (2.0 per 100,000 workers)
  • 7 fatalities in NT (5.1 per 100,000 workers)

Who's making a difference for men?

In terms of workplace fatalities, some campaigners believe that introducing Industrial Manslaughter laws is one of the key changes  needed to reduce the number of people who die at work every year.

More broadly, there are a number of organisations around Australia that focus on improving the lives and health of workers in male dominated industries. This include:

If you know of other projects working to improves men's health at work (including projects focused on male-dominated industries) please contact us at: [email protected]





Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.


Stay in touch with AMHF by signing up to our Men’s Health newsletters.