Health Care and Social Assistance Workers in focus

Modified on Mon, 16 Mar 2020 at 07:12 PM

As outlined by SafeWork Australia, Healthcare and Social Assistance workers are a high risk group due to the very nature of the work they do on a daily basis. Although hazards are present in every workplace and are a threat to everyone’s health and safety, workers in the healthcare and social assistance sector are reported as having one of the highest rates of work related injuries and illnesses, predominantly due to the regular people handling.

Workers may be exposed to a range of hazards that can affect their health and well-being, depending on the services they are to provide, the location of the workplace and the clients being cared for. They work with highly toxic drug and chemical agents, perform physically demanding and repetitive tasks such as lifting patients, and are regularly exposed to workplace stress and violence, putting workers at an alarming risk for illness and injury. 

Although it is possible to prevent or reduce worker exposure to these hazards, due to the nature of the work, the workers often sacrifice their own well-being for the sake of their patients. Find out more about the industry here.

Health Care and Social Assistance employs approximately 1,758,500 persons (ABS trend data), which accounts for 13.5 per cent of the total workforce. Over the past five years, employment in the industry has increased by 24.8 per cent. The median age for workers in this industry is 42 years and median weekly earnings are around $1,000 per week.

Between 2000–01 to 2014–15:

  • Body stressing represented more than half (51%) of workers’ compensation claims. Many of these were due to lifting people or moving beds, trolleys and other non-powered medical equipment.
  • Slips, trips and falls accounted for 19% of claims. Most involved stairs or falling over objects in high traffic areas.
  • Mental stress accounted for 8%, with more than half caused by other people.

Employment Characteristics Data

Employment Characteristics


Employment Level - November 2019 ('000)


Employment Growth - Five years to November 2019 ('000)


Employment Growth - Five Years to November 2019 (%)


Male Share of Employment - Year to November 2019 (%)


Female Share of Employment - Year to November 2019 (%)


Full Time Share of Employment - Year to November 2019 (%)


Average Full Time Hours - November 2019


Median Weekly Earnings in Main Job - August 2019 ($)


Projected Employment Growth - Five Years to May 2024 ('000)


Projected Employment Growth - Five Years to May 2024 (%)


Sources: ABS, Labour Force, Australia, Detailed, Quarterly, cat. no. 6291.0.55.003, trend. Average full time hours data is Department of Education, Skills and Employment trend; Earnings data are ABS, Characteristics of Employment Cat. No. 6333.0, August 2019; Department of Education, Skills and Employment, 2019 employment projections, five years to May 2024.

Source: Four quarter average and custom data based on ABS Labour Force, Australia, Cat no: 6291.0.55.003.

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