CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY

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1 ANALYSIS OF CLAIMS IN THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY ANALYSIS 1998 WorkCover. Watching out for you.

2 Disclaimer This publication contains information regarding occupational health, safety, injury management or workers compensation. It includes some of your obligations under the various workers compensation and occupational health and safety legislation that WorkCover NSW administers. To ensure you comply with your legal obligations you must refer to the appropriate Acts. This publication may refer to WorkCover NSW administered legislation that has been amended or repealed. When reading this publication you should always refer to the latest laws. Information on the latest laws can be checked at or contact (02) or (NSW country only). WorkCover NSW

3 Analysis of Claims in the Construction Industry 1.0 Introduction Workers Compensation Statistics New South Wales 1996/97 WorkCover NSW 1998 Information paper produced by Debabrata Midya Statistics enquiries: (02) ISSN Catalogue no. 328/97 This paper presents a statistical profile of workers compensation claims for injuries sustained by workers in the construction industry 1 of New South Wales. The following table shows the main industrial activities classified to the construction industry. Table 1: The hierarchical structure of construction industry Subdivision Group Type of industry 41: General construction 411 Building construction 412 Non-building construction 42: Special trade construction 423 Concreting, bricklaying and tiling 424 Other special trades Injury statistics in this paper relate to new-major 2 workers compensation claims. Details provided in this paper focus on the three main sectors of the industry: building; non-building and special trade construction. The on-going poor occupational health and safety performance of the industry was the main catalyst for the production of this paper. 2.0 Nature of Occurrence Figure 1 shows the breakdown of the nature of occurrence in the construction industry for the financial year 1996/97 compared to 1995/96. Workplace injuries in 1996/97 increased to 73% from 65% in 1995/96 while occupational diseases in 1996/97 declined to 24% from 33% in 1995/96. Figure 1: Nature of occurrence Non-Workplace Injuries 2% Non-Workplace Injuries 2% Occupational Diseases 33% Non-Workplace Injuries 3% Occupational Diseases 24% Workplace Injuries 65% 1995/96 Workplace Injuries 73% 1996/97 1 The Construction Industry is defined according to Division E : CONSTRUCTION of the Australian Standard Industrial Classification 1983 (ASIC) published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics: Catalogue No A new-major claim is any claim that is entered on an insurer s claims register in the relevant financial year and resulted in a fatality, permanent or temporary disability where five or more working days were paid for total incapacity. 1

4 3.0 Employment injuries Employment injuries comprise of all injuries resulting from accidents, and all occupational diseases contracted or aggravated in the course of a worker s employment. The extent of disabilities in the construction industry are shown in table 2. Table 2: Severity of injuries in the construction industry Financial Temporary Disability year Fatal Permanent 6 months Less than Total disability and over 6 months 1991/ , ,811 5, / , ,154 4, / , ,225 5, / , ,559 6, / , ,497 6, / , ,367 6,107 The number of employment injuries by industry are shown in table 3. The number of employment injuries in the construction industry has taken a constant upward trend from 1992/93 to 1995/96 but has decreased in 1996/97 which is mainly due to the decrease in occupational diseases claims from 2,264 in 1995/96 to 1,447 claims in 1996/97. Table 3: Employment injuries in the construction industry, 1991/92 to 1996/97 Industry 1991/ / / / / /97 Building construction 1,284 1,201 1,508 1,699 1,619 1,509 Non-building construction 1,417 1,458 1,891 2,190 2,243 1,460 Special trade construction 2,411 2,190 2,525 2,879 3,048 3,138 All 5,112 4,849 5,924 6,768 6,910 6, Incidence and Frequency Rate Incidence The incidence 3 rates suggest that persons employed in the construction industry have a much greater risk of employment injury than the average NSW worker over the period 1991/92 to 1996/97. The average incidence rate for the construction industry (50.7) was almost double the average for all industries (26.7) over the period 1991/92 to 1996/97 (Figure 2). The incidence of employment injuries in the non-building construction industry has risen at a much greater rate than the aggregate of all industries in NSW. The incidence of employment injuries in the non-building sector has taken a constant upward trend from 1991/92 to 1995/96 and decreased in 1996/97 which is mainly due to the decrease in occupational diseases claims from 1,076 in 1995/96 to 539 claims in 1996/97. 3 The incidence of employment injuries is the number of injuries per 1,000 salary and wage earners exposed to risk. 2

5 Figure 2: Incidence of employment injuries in the construction industry compared with all industries Incidence All Industry Construction Building Non-building Special Trades 1991/ / / / / /97 Financial year Frequency Rate The frequency rate 4 has taken similar trend to incidence (Figure 3). Figure 3: Frequency rate of employment injuries in the construction industry compared with all industries Frequency All Industries Construction Building Non-building Special Trades 1991/ / / / / /97 Financial year 3.2 Time Lost and Gross Incurred Cost (GIC) due to employment injuries in the construction industry The time lost 5 from employment injuries has increased by 9.3% in 1996/97 compared to 1995/ 96 while gross incurred cost 6 (GIC) has decreased by 14.9% (Table 4). 4 The frequency rate is the number of injuries per million hours worked. 5 Time lost is calculated for temporary disability claims only and does not include those resulting in 3 or more years off work. 6 Gross Incurred Cost (GIC) are the sum of payments made to the end of the year indicated plus any estimate of future liability. These costs do not reflect any payments made in any subsequent years. 3

6 Table 4: Time Lost and Gross Incurred Cost in the construction industry, 1991/92 to 1996/97 Year Gross Incurred Cost ($) Time Lost (weeks) Total Average Median Total Average Median $ /92 56,150 10,984 2,679 31, /93 60,293 12,434 3,555 26, /94 84,292 14,229 4,979 29, /95 112,438 16,613 5,000 35, /96 126,637 18,327 5,381 44, /97 107,775 17,648 6,500 48, Number of claims, Time Lost and Gross Incurred Cost for temporary disability claims The number of claims over 26 weeks time off work has shown a constant upward trend since 1992/93 (Table 5). Table 5: Number of temporary disability claims by time off work, 1991/92 to 1996/97 Time off work 1991/ / / / / /97 Up to 1 week Over 1 to 2 weeks 1, , Over 2 to 4 weeks Over 4 to 26 weeks 1,351 1,143 1,233 1,273 1,311 1,344 Over 26 weeks Total 4,092 3,394 3,492 3,948 3,993 3,907 The time lost and GIC for temporary disability claims are given in table 6 for 1995/96 to 1996/97. The total time lost for temporary disability claims in the construction industry was 48,469 weeks, an average of 12.4 weeks per claim for 1996/97 compared to 11.6 weeks for all industries. Table 6: Time lost and Gross Incurred Cost for temporary disability claims, 1995/96 to 1996/97 Time off work Time lost (weeks) GIC ($ 000) 1995/ / / /97 Up to 1 week Over 1 to 2 weeks 1,520 1,451 1,836 1,859 Over 2 to 4 weeks 2,395 2,209 2,616 2,453 Over 4 to 26 weeks 13,074 13,574 13,614 13,081 Over 26 weeks 27,024 30,931 14,701 16,225 Total 44,360 48,469 33,310 34,102 4

7 4.0 Workplace Injuries Analysis of claims in the Construction Industry Workplace injuries represented a predominant proportion of all employment injuries reported in the construction industry, accounting for an average of 70% of employment injuries for the period 1991/92 to 1996/97. The proportion of workplace injuries to all employment injuries has fluctuated from year to year with a maximum of 79% in 1991/92 and minimum of 63% in1993/ Incidence The incidence of workplace injuries in the construction industry has remained relatively stable since 1991/92. Within the construction industry, the building sector has shown a decrease in the incidence rate in 1991/92 (38.8) compared to 1995/96 (26.2) and an increase compared to 1996/97 (30.4). However, the non-building sector has shown a large increase in incidence since 1993/94, rising from 59.4 in that year to 89.3 in 1995/96 and decreased to 64.3 in 1996/97. Figure 4: Incidence of workplace injuries Incidence All Industries Construction Building Non-building Special Trades 1991/ / / / / /97 Financial year 4.2 Nature of Injury, 1996/97 Total number of claims in the construction industry was approximately 10% of all industries. Sprains and strains of joints and adjacent muscles were the most common cause of injury in the construction industry, accounting for 55% of claims. Other common injuries were fractures and dislocations (16%), and open wound (15%). The number of claims, GIC and time lost due to sprains and strains in the construction industry were approximately 9%, 12% and 9% of all industries respectively (Table 7). Table 7: Nature of injury/disease, Workplace injuries Nature of injury/ Total claims GIC ($ 000) Time Lost (weeks) disease Construction All Construction All Construction All Industries Industries Industries Fractures and dislocations 723 5,114 16,775 82,231 8,263 53,220 Sprains and strains of joints and adjacent muscles 2,470 27,610 47, ,554 24, ,042 Open wound (Not Traumatic Amputation) 676 5,288 5,503 35,051 4,874 32,786 Superficial injury , ,174 Contusions and crushings 346 3,803 3,928 32,177 2,577 28,169 Burns , ,897 Other 134 1,230 4,097 33,984 1,030 8,667 Total 4,482 44,654 78, ,565 42, ,955 5

8 4.3 Bodily location of injury/disease, 1996/97 The upper limbs (32%) and trunk (32%) were the most frequently injured bodily locations for claims in the construction industry. The number of claims, GIC and time lost due to injuries to upper limbs were 10%, 12% and 10% of all industries respectively (Table 8). Table 8: Bodily location of injury/disease, Workplace injuries Bodily Location Total claims GIC ($ 000) Time Lost (weeks) of injury/disease Construction All Construction All Construction All Industries Industries Industries Head 141 1,344 2,663 16, ,762 Neck 82 1,029 1,807 15, ,000 Trunk 1,424 15,218 29, ,110 15, ,673 Upper Limbs 1,449 14,317 18, ,382 11, ,781 Lower Limbs 1,142 9,895 17, ,047 10,606 81,786 Multiple Locations and other 244 2,851 8,460 68,191 2,574 29,953 Total 4,482 44,654 78, ,565 42, , Mechanism of injury/disease, 1996/97 Body stressing was the most frequent mechanism of injury/disease in the construction industry, accounting for 34% of the claims. Other common injuries were falls, trips and slips of a person which accounted for 32% of the claims. The number of claims, GIC and time lost due to body stressing were 8%, 11% and 8% of all industries respectively (Table 9). Table 9: Mechanism of injury/disease, Workplace injuries Mechanism of Total claims GIC ($ 000) Time Lost (weeks) injury / disease Construction All Construction All Construction All Industries Industries Industries Falls, trips & slips of a person 1,423 11,383 27, ,891 15, ,799 Hitting objects with a part of the body 538 4,440 4,645 31,975 4,198 28,815 Being hit by moving object 808 8,159 13,302 99,809 6,067 63,317 Body stressing 1,529 18,265 29, ,334 15, ,860 Heat, radiation & electricity , ,445 Chemicals & other substances , ,864 Other and unspecified mechanisms of injury 96 1,247 2,730 27, ,855 Total 4,482 44,654 78, ,565 42, ,955 6

9 4.5 Agency of injury/disease, 1996/97 Non-powered handtools, appliances and equipment were the most frequent agency of injury/disease in the construction industry accounting for 26% of claims. Other common agencies of injury/disease were materials and substances which accounted for 25% of claims. The number of claims, GIC and time lost due to non-powered handtools, appliances and equipment are 9%, 13% and 10% of all industries respectively (Table 10). Table 10: Agency of injury/disease, Workplace injuries Agency of injury / Total claims GIC ($ 000) Time Lost (weeks) disease Construction All Construction All Construction All Industries Industries Industries Machinery and (Mainly) Fixed Plant 285 3,519 4,604 50,606 2,200 25,927 Mobile Plant & Transport 435 4,032 8,622 62,697 3,995 34,886 Powered Equipment, Tools & Appliances 254 2,123 3,637 29,835 1,447 18,483 Non-Powered Handtools, Appliances & Equipment 1,165 12,806 18, ,919 12, ,871 Chemicals and chemical products , ,393 Materials & substances 1,108 5,937 18,537 74,666 9,633 49,049 Environmental agencies 755 7,682 14, ,439 7,905 72,202 Animal, human and biological agencies 24 4, , ,479 Other & unspecified agenci 401 4,061 8,837 73,493 4,165 38,665 Total 4,482 44,654 78, ,565 42, , Occupation Statistics Figure 5 shows five occupation groups with the highest number of injuries in 1996/97. The carpenters, joiners and wood tradespersons sustained the highest number of injuries, 799 (13%) of 6,107 injuries for the whole of NSW construction industry in 1996/97. The number of injuries for the above occupation groups are also presented for the year 1995/96. Figure 5: Employment Injuries by Occupation Carpenters, Joiners & Wood tradespersons Trades assistants & factory hands Occupation Other labourers & related workers Other construction & mining labourers 1995/ /97 Plant & machine operators Number of claims 7

10 5.1 Occupational Diseases The incidence of occupational diseases in the construction industry has risen at a much greater rate than that of all industries. Within the construction industry the most notable increase in the incidence rate occurred in the non-building sector where the rate of increase was well over 300% in 1995/96 (86.7) compared to 1991/92 (20.6), however the incidence rate in the non-building sector decreased from 86.7 (1995/96) to 39.0 in the year 1996/97. Figure 6: Incidence of occupational diseases in the construction industry Incidence All Industry Construction Building Non-building Special Trades 1991/ / / / / /97 Financial year 5.2 Deafness The increase in the rate of occupational diseases over the period 1991/ /96 is mostly due to the number of reported claims for deafness. In relation to claims for deafness, the number of reported claims has risen from 586 in 1991/92 to 1,893 in 1995/96, an increase of 1,307 claims or 223% and decreased to 1,061 in 1996/97. The non-building sector accounted for 51% (970) and 42% (449) of all deafness claims in the construction industry during 1995/96 and 1996/97 respectively. 6.0 Types of Payments The statistics presented in this section relate to all claims of employment injury (including payments for claims with less than 5 days off work as well as those for outstanding claims from earlier years) in the construction industry for which payments were made during the period 1994/95 to 1996/97. The total payment for the construction industry has taken a constant upward trend since 1994/95. The total payment has increased by 32% in 1996/97 compared to 1995/96. Table 11: Payments for employment injuries in the construction industry for 1994/95 to 1996/97 Year ended Total compensation Total non-compensation Total payments 30 June payments ($'000) payments ($'000) ($'000) Construction All Construction All Construction All Industries Industries Industries 1994/95 127,514 1,144,937 42, , ,562 1,532, /96 131,600 1,200,219 45, , ,502 1,588, /97 163,375 1,523,441 70, , ,443 2,016,837 8

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12 Catalogue No. 328 WorkCover Publications Hotline WorkCover NSW Donnison Street Gosford NSW 2250 Locked Bag 2906 Lisarow NSW 2252 WorkCover Assistance Service Website ISSN Copyright WorkCover NSW Production and printing by Salmat

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