What is Australia’s most dangerous job?

The figures are in: Agriculture, forestry and fishing are once again the most dangerous industries in Australia.

According to Safe Work's Key Work Health and Safety Statistics Australia 2017, the agriculture, forestry and fishing industry averaged 14 fatalities per 1,000,000 workers in 2016, which was second only to the transport, warehousing and storage industry, with a rate of 7.5.

We mashed the stats for both fatalities and injuries (relative to the amount of employees in the industry) to create a Risk Score for each industry.

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Year on year breakdown

Risk ranking (Industry)finder risk scoreFatalities per 100,000 employeesSerious injury claims per 1,000 employees
1. Agriculture, forestry and fishing31.51417.5
2. Transport, postal and warehousing21.97.514.4
3. Construction19.33.316
4. Manufacturing16.20.715.5
5. Electricity, gas, water and waste services145.88.2
6. Wholesale trade12.3012.3
7. Mining11.92.79.2
8. Arts and recreation services11.92.29.7
9. Health care and social assistance110.310.7
10. Administrative and support services111.89.2
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 & safety12.2068,270729,000
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

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

Where's 2017?

  • The most recent statistics updated by Safework Australia (in its 2017 reports) are for the previous year 2016. As figures for 2017 are made publicly available, we will update this guide.

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 418 workplace fatalities being recorded between 2007-2016. The most dangerous type of sub-division within agriculture was sheep, beef cattle and grain framing with 279 total fatalities in the same time period.

The industry also had an abundance of workers' compensation claims lodged from 2015-16, with over 3,510 in total.


2. Transport, postal and warehousing

Last year's ranking: 2

The transport, postal and warehousing industry accounted for 47 fatalities (7.5 per 100,000 employees) and 8,200 serious injury claims (14.4 per 1,000 employees) in 2016.


3. Construction

Last year's ranking: 3

Construction accounted for 12.28% of all workplace compensation claims in 2016 with 12,670 claims made.

'Constructions services' were responsible for 35 total deaths in 2016. This includes jobs such as earthmoving, plumbing, carpentry, bricklaying and concreting.


4. Manufacturing

Last year's ranking : 4

In 2016, 6 people lost their lives while working in the manufacturing industry. Manufacturing was also the second most common industry for workers' compensation claims, with 12,740 claims lodged in 2016.

shutterstock lightbulb electricity 738x4105. Electricity, gas, water and waste services

Last year's ranking: 9

The electricity, gas, water and waste sector saw an increase in deaths in 2016 with from 4 (the previous year) to 8.

Wholesale-trade6. Wholesale trade

Last year's ranking: 5

In 2016, the wholesale trade industry saw drop in the total number of fatalities from 3 (2015) to 0. The total number of serious injuries also decreased from 4,630 to 4,415.


7. Mining

Whole sale trading

Last year's ranking: 6

The mining industry experienced 6 deaths in Australia in 2016 (down from 10 in 2015).

The industry also had 2,080 workers compensation claims in 2016 (down from 2105 in the previous year).


8. Arts and recreation services

Last year's ranking: Not in top 10

In 2016, the arts and recreation sector had 2,110 workers compensation claims and 5 deaths.


9. Health and community services

Last year's ranking: 7

The health and community services sector once again had the highest number of worker compensation claims in 2015-2016, with 16,175 claims being lodged. The reason this industry doesn't rank higher is because of the sheer amount of people that were employed in it that year (roughly 1,511,682).


10. Administrative and support services

Last year's ranking: 10

The administrative and support services industry remained in 10th place in 2016. There were 8 fatalities slightly up from 7 the previous year.

Infographic: Workplace accidents, injuries and diseases

Workplace fatalities are on the decline

As referenced by

Leah-Anne Thompson / Shutterstock.com

Richard Laycock

Richard is the Insurance Editor at finder, and has been wrangling insurance Product Disclosure Statements for the last 4 years. When he’s not helping Aussies make sense of the fine print, he can be found testing the quality of Aperol Spritzes in his new found home of New York. Richard studied Journalism at Macquarie University and The Missouri School of Journalism, and has a Tier 1 certification in General Advice for Life Insurance. He has also been published in CSO Australia and Dynamic Business.

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