In asking a question such as 'Are we more safe today?' is about as fundamental a question of safety and risk that could be asked. Are we seeing safer workplaces? Are we managing our risks better today than we did yesterday? Surely we would all hope to respond with confidence 'Of course!'.
In Australia (and to a lesser extent New Zealand) a good place to start to look for a response is Safe Work Australia and their 'Comparative Performance Report' with the 19th Edition the most recent. The Report has 3 parts that were published between 6 October 2017 and 4 May 2018. Generally it provides an analysis of trends in work health and safety and workers’ compensation scheme performance across Australia and New Zealand. The trend comparison is between 2011-12 and either 2014-15 or 2015-16.
There are many tables and graphs as you would expect broken down by Fatality and Serious Injury across industry sector and by jurisdiction (location). The devil, as always, is in the detail but the report includes infographics of Key Findings which provide a snapshot at a glance.
So what are some of the highlights? [there are important explanations and caveats about all the data contained in the full report that you should read].
Work-related traumatic injury fatalities
Australia: between 2011–12 and 2015–16 there was a 10 per cent decrease in the number of workers killed as a result of incidents not on a public road (from 163 10 146)
New Zealand recorded a 2 per cent increase in the number of compensated fatalities from 84 in 2011–12 to 86 in 2014–15.
Work-related disease fatalities
Australia:There was a substantial decrease (down 44 per cent) in the number of fatalities related to occupational diseases in Australia from 2011–12 to 2014–15.
New Zealand: similar decrease of 46% from 36 in 2011-12 to 19 in 2015-16.
Here are some examples from the Infographics...