Are the self-employed at higher risk of fatal work-related injury?

Tim R. Driscoll*, Sandra Healey, Rebecca J. Mitchell, John A. Mandryk, A. Leigh Hendrie, Brynley P. Hull

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives. The aim of this paper was to determine if the rates of work-related fatal injury differed between employees and self-employed persons, allowing for differences in their industry and occupation. Methods. The analysis was part of a much larger study of all work-related fatalities that occurred in Australia during the 4-year period 1989-1992 inclusive and which was based on information from coroners' files. Analysis was based on both practical and legal definitions of self-employment. Unadjusted rates, rates for specific industry and occupation groups, and rates adjusted for differences in industry and occupation distribution were calculated. Results. The unadjusted rate for self-employed persons per 100,000 persons per year (95% CI) was 8.4 (7.5-9.2), which was 70% higher than the employee rate of 5.0 (4.7-5.2). However, after adjustment for industry, the rates were almost identical (self-employed: 5.8; employee: 6.0). Adjustment for occupation still left a 40% higher rate for self-employed persons, but this was probably due to inability to fully adjust for differences at the specific occupation level. Conclusions. There was no strong evidence of an increased fatality rate in self-employed persons compared with employees, once differences in industry and occupation are taken into account. More detailed analysis of specific industry and occupation sub-groups would provide greater insight into this issue.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)503-515
Number of pages13
JournalSafety Science
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Bias
  • Death
  • Employment arrangement
  • Industry
  • Occupation


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