Main Article Content
New Zealand’s (NZ) workplace fatality record is very poor compared to similar OECD countries. The reasons for NZ’s poor performance are highly debated yet inadequately informed due to a lack of high quality fatality data. Due to incomplete official data on work fatalities in NZ, it is not currently possible to use routine official data collections to reliably report: i) who is fatally injured due to work activities, and ii) what groups should be prioritised for action.
Objectives and Approach
This study uses coronial records to overcome the limitations of existing official data collections to provide the most complete and detailed evidence platform for occupational safety policy and action in NZ. A work-related fatal injury dataset spanning the period 2005-2014 was created by: 1) identifying possible cases aged 0-84 years from the Mortality Collection using selected external cause of injury codes, 2) linking these to Coronial records and 3) identifying and coding work-related cases.
Of 7,730 injury fatalities with corresponding Coronial records retrieved and reviewed, 1,924 (24%) were work-related, of which 955 were workers. Fifty-nine per cent more worker deaths were identified compared to available official NZ Government estimates from notification and compensation data. Workers killed on public roads were the main additional group identified. Official data do not provide occupation-based fatality rates; our study found ‘Miners and drillers’, ‘deckhands and fishermen’ and ‘loggers’ had the highest rates of fatal injury.
Conclusion / Implications
Coronial records offer a rich source of population data on work-related fatal injury deaths, providing better estimates of work-traffic fatalities and high risk occupations than are otherwise available as well as evidence for establishing prevention strategies in NZ.
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