What is Australia’s most dangerous job?

We've crunched the numbers and discovered agriculture, forestry and fishing is once again the most dangerous industry in Australia.

The figures are in: if you work in agriculture, forestry and fishing industry then you're working in Australia's most dangerous industry. According to Safe Work Australia's Work-related Traumatic Injury Fatalities, Australia 2015, the agriculture, forestry and fishing industry experienced 52 fatalities in 2015, which was second only to the transport, warehousing and storage industry, which lost a total of 40 employees that year.

We took employment figures from Safe Work Australia in the Australian Workers' Compensation Statistics and meshed them with the Work-related Traumatic Injury Fatalities report stats to create a Risk Score for each industry.

Note: If you are looking for income insurance, make sure you understand how the risk of your occupation affects cover.

Risk ranking (Industry)finder Risk scoreNumber of fatalities in 2015Number of serious injuries in 2015Number of workers 2015
1. Agriculture, forestry & fishing42.10523,410318,000
2. Transport, postal & warehousing23.60408,820604,000
3. Construction22.703312,5751,032,000
4. Manufacturing19.001313,725913,000
5. Wholesale trade14.7034,630389,000
6. Mining14.10102,105226,000
7. Health care & social assistance12.80217,5651,432,000
8. Public administration & safety 12.2068,270729,000
9. Electricity, gas, water & waste services11.7041,175142,000
10. Administrative & support services11.6073,785391,000
Risk ranking (Industry)finder Risk ScoreNumber of fatalities in 2014Number of serious injuries in 14Number of workers 2014
1. Agriculture, forestry & fishing30.65433,365313,000
2. Transport, warehousing & storage25.11469,425590,000
3. Construction17.683111,5351,026,000
4. Manufacturing16.621512,930930,000
5. Mining14.39102,670269,000
6. Arts & recreation services13.95101,865202,000
7. Wholesale trade13.1564,380393,000
8. Health & Community Services12.64217,4151,394,000
9. Public administration & safety12.5268,775750,000
10. Administrative & support services11.5544,525386,000
Risk ranking (Industry)+/-Number of fatalities in 2015+/-Number of serious injuries in 2015+/-
1. Agriculture, forestry & fishingSame5293,41045
2. Transport, postal & warehousingSame4068,820605
3. ConstructionSame33212,5751040
4. ManufacturingSame13213,725765
5. Wholesale trade2334,630250
6. Mining110Same2,105565
7. Health care & community services12Same17,565150
8. Public administration and safety16Same8,270505
9. Electricity, gas, water and waste servicesNot in top 10411,17575
10. Administrative and support servicesSame733,785740

Data last confirmed as accurate 18 May 2017. It's a good idea to check the SafeWork Australia website for the most up to date figures.

Where's 2016 and 2017?
  • The most recent statistics made publicly available by Safework Australia (in its 2016 reports) are for the year 2015. As figures for 2016 and 2017 are finalised, we will update this guide.

Methodology: finder.com.au examined the number of serious injury claims and the number of fatalities as a percentage of the working population across all sectors as reported by Safe Work Australia in the Australian Workers' Compensation Statistics 2014-15 (Published Date: September 2016) and Work Related Traumatic Injury and Fatalities Australia 2015 (Published Date: October 2016) reports. Serious injuries are defined as those in which the employee was absent from work for at least a week as a result of the injury. The statistics were weighted at 100:1 for fatalities to injuries, hence the average number of deaths per 1,000 workers and the average number of serious injuries for every 100,000 workers were used to calculate the finder.com.au Risk Score. The scores were then ranked in descending order to find the top 10 most dangerous jobs list.

Top 10 most dangerous industries in Australia


1. Agriculture, forestry and fishing

Last year's ranking: 1 

The agriculture, forestry and fishing industry has routinely been at the top of the most dangerous jobs list, with 744 workplace fatalities being recorded between 2003-2015. The most dangerous type of sub-division within agriculture was sheep, beef cattle and grain framing with 375 total fatalities in the same time period.

The industry also had an abundance of workers' compensation claims lodged from 2014-15, with over 3% of all workers making a claim.


2. Transport, postal and warehousing

Last year's ranking: 2

Although the transport, postal and warehousing industry only represented 5% of the people employed in Australia, it accounted for a whopping 21% of all work-related fatalities. From 2003-2015, 754 transport, postal and warehousing industry employees lost their lives on the job.

Road freight transport workers accounted for 535 fatalities during this period.


3. Construction

Last year's ranking: 3

Construction accounted for 17% of all workplace fatalities in 2015. From 2003 to 2015, 469 people have been killed in construction-related incidents. Construction was also accounted for 12,575 workers' compensation claims lodged in 2015, the third-highest of all industries.

'Constructions services' were responsible for 209 fatalities between 2013 to 2015. This includes jobs such as earthmoving, plumbing, carpentry, bricklaying and concreting.


4. Manufacturing

Last year's ranking : 4

In 2015, 13 people lost their lives while working in the manufacturing industry. Since 2003 to 2015 the industry has lost 275 workers to workplace incidents. Manufacturing was also the second most common industry for workers' compensation claims, with 13,725 claims lodged in 2015.


5. Wholesale trade

Last year's ranking: 7

Despite a decrease in the amount of people employed in this industry from the previous year (389,000 down from 393,000), 2015 saw a jump in serious workers compensation claims (4,380 to 4,630).

Between 2003 and 2015 the wholesale trade industry experienced 98 fatalities and 3 in 2015 alone.


6. Mining

Last year's ranking: 5

The mining industry experienced 10 deaths in Australia in 2015. From 2013 to 2015, the total number of people killed in mining incidents was 122.

The industry also had 3,140 workers compensation claims in 2015.


7. Health and community services

Last year's ranking: 8

The health and community services had the highest number of worker compensation claims in 2014-2015, with 17,565 claims being lodged. On the other hand, the health and community sector only recorded 2 fatalities (despite having the highest amount of people employed out of any industry)


8. Public administration and safety

Last year's ranking: 9

In 2015, the public administration and safety industry had a total of 6 deaths 8,270 workers' comp claims.

shutterstock lightbulb electricity 738x410

9. Electricity, gas, water and waste services

Last year's ranking: Not in top 10. 

The electricity, gas, water and waste sector saw an increase in workers compensation claims in 2015 with 1,175 (up from 1,100).


10. Administrative and support services

Last year's ranking: 10

The administrative and support services industry rounds out the list with 7 fatalities in 2015. The industry also had 3,785 serious injury claims.

Workplace fatalities are on the decline

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Richard Laycock

Richard is the insurance editor at finder.com.au. He is on a mission to make insurance easier to understand.

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