This research investigates the changing burden of work-related disability in Canada and Australia and how this varies by gender and age. The secondary objective is to demonstrate a means of comparing work disability data internationally.Methods
Workers’ compensation data from Canada and Australia were used to analyse the relative disability burden of workers injured between 2004 and 2010. The two measures used were the number of claims with compensated time-loss and the corresponding time-loss years accrued, indexed to 2004. Gender and age-stratified analyses were conducted using descriptive statistics.Results
Male workers had more claims and cumulative time-loss in both countries. They also had steeper reductions in claim volumes and cumulative time-loss over time, indicating a narrowing in overall gender differences. Age-stratified analysis showed that differences between men and women were smaller among younger workers compared to older workers. In Canada, the proportion of claims attributable to females grew at the same rate as the proportion of time loss until 2007–08 when a gap emerged. In Australia, the proportion of claims and time loss attributable to females grew closer over time.Conclusions
While the volume of claims and cumulative time-loss has decreased in Canada and Australia, and the largest proportion is attributable to workers who are male and aged 35–54, a growing proportion is attributable to female and older workers. These changes have been driven by demographic factors (growth of females in the workforce, ageing workforce) and structural factors (economic recession and policy changes), particularly in Canada.