“well you’re ?%$* out of luck”: Some thoughts on fatal injuries as a plaything for journalists.

“well you’re ?%$* out of luck”*.  This is a quote from Bernard Keane of Crikey as per the image below.  It’s not a particularly clearly articulated statement.  There could be some debate about what it means.  My reading is that it was an attempt to convey in the negative Crikey’s opinion of my suggestion that Crikey consider a retraction of this article.


My interest in it began here with a tweet from Kevin Jones.   It lead me to the Crikey article.  The article sought to create a link between the presence of the ABCC and workplace fatalities.  [Side notes: For some worthwhile reading on safety have a look at Kevin Jone’s blog. And see some history about the ABCC here.]

Crikey’s claim seemed to me to be a long bow.  This prompted me to conduct some research.  The graph below from the latest report from Safe Work Australia illustrates workplace traumatic fatalities across all injuries.

Safe Work Australia 2016, Work Related Traumatic Injury Fatalities, Australia 2015, Safe Work Australia, Canberra.

It shows that the rise in construction fatalities that followed the ABCC’s introduction in 2005 occurred more broadly.  It seems to me that the relationship suggested between the ABCC and construction safety may be the result of a confusion between causation and coincidence.

Consideration should be given to retraction of the article in my view for two reasons:

(a) Misdirection about the causes of workplace injuries can never be helpful.  It distracts efforts from useful interventions.

(b) And further, these statistics represent real people who lost their lives.  They are not a plaything to bolster a political augment with claims that are on shaky if any footing.


  • Expletive deleted


About John Culvenor

Hi, Thank you for taking a look at this blog. I work in engineering, ergonomics, creativity, design, training, etc. Often this is about helping solve legal puzzles through accident analysis. Sometimes it is about thinking up better designs for equipment, workplaces, and systems. This blog is about good design and bad design, accident analysis and how it can be done better, and how we can make a better, safer world by design!
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