The manufacturing employs approximately 912,500 persons (ABS trend data), which accounts for 7.0 per cent of the total workforce, and has a high number of work-related fatalities, injuries and illnesses.

From 2003 to 2015, manufacturing had the fourth highest proportion of fatalities according to industry type, representing 9% (275) of all worker fatalities.

Particularly concerning was that young workers (15–24 year olds) in the manufacturing industry recorded an injury rate 44% higher than young workers in the Australian workforce as a whole.

View the Manufacturing: Priority industry snapshot for an overview of the industry and its WHS performance.

Risks associated with manufacturing

Inherent risks associated with working in the manufacturing industry include:

  • body stressing, manual handling and musculoskeletal disorders
  • slips trips and falls
  • working with dangerous machinery and equipment.

Between 2007–08 to 2011–12:

  • Body stressing represented 41% of workers’ compensation claims. Many of these were due to muscular stress while lifting, carrying, or putting down crates/boxes, barrels and other containers as well as handling metal products.
  • Being hit by moving objects accounted for 18% of claims. More than half of these involved materials, substances and equipment falling or moving into the worker’s path.
  • Falls, trips and slips accounted for 15% of claims. Most involved stairs or falling over objects in traffic areas.

The Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012–2022 has identified the manufacturing industry as a priority to reduce fatalities due to the high number and rate of work-related injuries and illnesses.

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.

Top 10 Occupations

(For more information, select an occupation below)

Number Employed

(four quarter average, 2018)

Structural Steel and Welding Trades WorkersOpens a new window


PackersOpens a new window


Metal Fitters and MachinistsOpens a new window


Production ManagersOpens a new window


Food and Drink Factory WorkersOpens a new window


StorepersonsOpens a new window


Sales Assistants (General)Opens a new window


CabinetmakersOpens a new window


Product AssemblersOpens a new window


Bakers and PastrycooksOpens a new window


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

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