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Individual and social factors associated with workplace injuries

Author(s): Ashwin Kumar

Journal: International Journal of Human Sciences
ISSN 1303-5134

Volume: 8;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 616;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: Sociology of work | workplace injuries | individual factors | social factors.

636,000 Australians injured themselves in a work-related injury in the period 2009-2010. Of these injured Australians, 88% continued to work in their same place, 5.2% had to change their jobs, and 6.9% were no longer employed. Men continue to be the most injured individuals in workplace injuries (56%) with the highest rates of injury in the 45-49 years (72 per 1000 people) and 20-24 years (63 per 1000 people) age groups. Furthermore, 59% of these 636,000 Australians injured in workplace injuries received financial assistance from workers compensation claims, 36% did not apply for financial assistance and 5% applied but did not receive any financial assistance. The most common types of workplace injuries incurred were: sprains and strains (30%), chronic joint/muscle conditions (18%) and cuts/open wounds (16%) (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2010). The total economic cost from workplace injuries in Australia for the 2005-06 financial year was estimated at $57.5 billion, representing 5.9% of GDP for the financial year (Australian Safety and Compensation Council, 2009). Workplace injuries also incur immeasurable personal costs to Australian workers and their families. Individual lives are altered, even lost; individual hopes and dreams of a better life are shattered. Family roles, responsibilities and relationships become strained due to changes in income earnings and the imposed challenging needs for increased social support and increased caring needs within the home due to workplace injury. Why do Australian workers get injured in their workplaces? Is it due to their individual worker factors, or is it due to social factors associated with their work and workplace? While individual worker factors, such as: gender, age, personality, ethnicity, and substance use, do contribute to workplace injuries and fatalities, broader social and organizational workplace factors, such as: workload, work hours, work environment, safety culture, provision of quality supervision, and provision of occupational health and safety training, socially structure, and influence individual worker attitudes and behaviours in workplace injury and fatalities.

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