MEDIA RELEASE: 8 Victorians killed at work for every 1 reported workplace death

Victorian Trades Hall Council has warned that official statistics grossly understate workplace fatalities in Victoria, counting only 1 in every 8 deaths due to injury or illnesses sustained at work.

A VTHC analysis shows that in 2016-17 over 200 Victorians died as a direct result of Workplace injury or illness, although the government’s official tally for the year is just 26.


The official tally does not account for the deaths of transport workers or others killed in road accidents, workers who died from illness sustained at work (especially work-related cancers), or suicides related to workplace psychological injuries like PTSD, stress, and bullying. The discrepancy relates to state government jurisdictional boundaries and statistical reporting methods that obscure the causes of death.


Quotes attributable to Luke Hilakari, Victorian Trades Hall Council Secretary 

“Since this time last year, at least 200 Victorians died as a direct result of an injury or illness sustained at work. Over 200 families and communities won’t see a loved one again because of unsafe practices in Victorian workplaces”.

“Official statistics obscure the true workplace causes of a whole variety of workplace deaths, and absolve employers of their responsibility to address deadly workplace hazards. That must stop. If we don’t remember the dead, how can we fight for the living?”

“If a worker dies in a hospital bed from mesothelioma caused by exposure to asbestos at work years earlier, that is a workplace death, not just a cancer death. If a truck driver is killed in a collision, that is a workplace death, not just a figure in the road toll. If an emergency services worker takes their own life because of the terrible trauma they witness as part of their work, that’s a workplace death, not just a suicide statistic.”

“Employers and regulators must take responsibility for avoidable workplace injuries and illnesses, and counting the true cost to our community is a start.”


Media Event: International Workers Memorial Day 

Friday 28th April is International Workers Memorial Day. On this day we mourn all who have been killed at work and recommit to fighting for better health & safety.

Workplace safety advocates and people who have lost loved ones mark International Workers Memorial day with a memorial service at Victorian Trades Hall, at which one pair of empty shoes is laid out for each work-related death counted by official statistics. 

Memorial services will also be held in workplaces across the state as Health & Safety Representatives in different industries observe a minute’s silence and take a moment to discuss relevant workplace health and safety concerns.

Media contact: Amy Jenkins, OHS Communications, 0424 698 694 or

Click here to download the PDF & read the statistical analysis 'Skeletons in the closet: Digging deeper into work-related death statistics'

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