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Older workers aged 65 and over account for five per cent of the Australian workforce but represented 17 per cent of all fatalities in 2019, according to the latest figures from Safe Work Australia.

Older workers aged 65 and over had the highest fatality rate at 5.4 fatalities per 100,000 workers aged 65 and over. This is almost four times the overall worker fatality rate (1.4 fatalities per 100,000 workers).

In total there were 183 worker fatalities in 2019 due to injuries sustained in the course of a work-related activity.

While there has been an increase in fatalities between 2018 and 2019, the overall number of fatalities has been trending downward since 2007.

The highest number of work-related injury fatalities was recorded in 2007 when there were 310 deaths. Similarly, the fatality rate (the number of fatalities per 100,000 workers) has decreased by 53 per cent since the highest rate recorded in 2007.

In 2019, the majority (62 per cent) of fatalities occurred in three industries - transport, postal and warehousing (58 fatalities).

Over the five-year period from 2015 to 2019, there were 150 worker fatalities in the construction industry in Australia. Younger workers aged under 25 accounted for 15 per cent of fatalities in the construction industry.

A third (33 per cent) of fatalities in the construction industry involved falls from a building or other type of structure, and almost a quarter (24 per cent) involved a fall from a ladder.

In terms of occupations, labourers accounted for 29 fatalities while technicians and trade workers had 28 fatalities in 2019.

The five-year average for technicians and trade workers is 27. The problem of safe access to HVACR equipment has been an ongoing issue for technicians, and was first raised in a safety report prepared by the Australian Institute of Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Heating (AIRAH) in 2018. The report found the plant is often installed in inaccessible positions increasing risks for the service person.

"Working at heights presents fall hazards and appropriate safety solutions are often not provided or the solutions that are provided are inadequate and not used correctly," the report said.

"This is predominately related to rooftop and high wall installations but also mezzanine plantrooms in warehousing."

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