The burden of work-related injury in Australia is high, and quality data are required to inform effective prevention strategies and evaluate intervention programs, including regulator strategies. Increasing barriers to complete surveillance have led to questions about data accuracy and the reported the declining trends in work-related injuries in various jurisdictions. Workers’ compensation data are the key source of data for work-related injury surveillance in Australia. However, trends in workers’ compensation claims are influenced by trends in employment practices and workers’ compensation coverage.
The objectives of this study were to identify work-related injury patterns and trends in hospitalised data in Queensland, and compare the identified patterns and trends with those recorded in the Queensland Workers’ Compensation Data Collection (QWCDC), and the regulator’s incident reporting database.
Retrospective analyses of data from the Queensland Hospital Admitted Patient Data Collection (QHAPDC), the QWCDC and the regulators’ incident reporting database were completed for a six-year period, from 2010 to 2015, inclusive. Hospitalised injury, reported incidents and workers’ compensation claim patterns and trends were identified.
Work-related injuries accounted for 7% (n=54683) of all hospitalised injuries (n=759717). Workers’ compensation was the funding source for 73% of the work-related injuries. Increasing injury frequency rates were observed in the hospital and reported incident data. In contrast, the workers’ compensation claim frequency rate declined. Hospitalised injury data present a different historical picture of injury patterns to workers’ compensation data and reported incident data in Queensland.
Admitted patient hospital data can be used to complement workers’ compensation claim data and reported incident data to provide a more complete surveillance of work-related injury. Use of data that is less likely impaired by employment and insurance coverage trends could better inform injury prevention strategies and policy.