That was close: ‘Near misses’, ‘dangerous occurrences’ and ‘hazardous exposures’ in the Australian Army

Rob Marc Orr, Rodney R Pope, Timothy Rigby, Ben Schram

Research output: Contribution to conferencePresentationResearchpeer-review

74 Downloads (Pure)


INTRODUCTION: Occupational health and safety incidents, such as ‘hazardous exposures’, ‘near misses’ and ‘dangerous occurrences’, place the safety of military personnel at serious risk. These incidents, which can differ between service type (e.g. full-time and reserve personnel) can serve as a warning to the Australian Army as to where future potential injuries and fatalities may occur if risk management strategies are not implemented.
AIM: The aim of this study was to investigate reported incidents in Australian Army personnel and compare differences between full-time (Australian Regular Army [ARA]) and part-time (Army Reserves [ARES] personnel.
METHODS: A retrospective cohort study was conducted using data sourced from the Workplace Health, Safety, Compensation and Reporting (WHSCAR) database. Non-identifiable data spanning the period 1st July 2012 to 30th June 2014 were provided. Data were included in the study if the incident: (a) involved ARA or ARES personnel; (b) occurred when the soldiers were on duty or in training, (c) occurred during service between 01 July 2012 and 30 June 2014. Data were excluded if the incident: a) was an injury or fatality, or b) was to a service animals. The Australian Defence Human Research Ethics Committee (Protocol LERP 14-024) and the Bond University Human Research Ethics Committee (Protocol RO1927) granted ethics approval for this study.
RESULTS: Of the reported 3,791 incidents, 96% involved ARA personnel and 4% ARES personnel. When accounting for population size and days of service the ARA reported 6.18 incidents per 100 soldiers-years of active service and the ARES 3.29 incidents per 100 soldiers-years of active service. Across both populations, the leading activity for which an incident was reported was operations (n=2,096, 99.4%) followed by weapon firing (n=304, 8.0%) and unknown (n=206, 5.4%). In the ARA, 84% of incidents were hazardous exposures (68.2% due to operations), 14% near misses (22.0% due to driving) and 2% dangerous incidents (36.9% due to weapon firing). In the ARES, 55% of incidents were hazardous exposures (30.2% due to unknown causes, 24.4% as a passenger), 38% near misses (45.5% due to driving), and 7% dangerous incidents (41.4% due to weapons firing). The Private / Private equivalent ranks had the higher rate of incidents (37%) across both service types, followed by Corporal / Corporal equivalent ranks (27%).
CONCLUSIONS: Apart from exposure reported by ARA personnel due mostly to operations, weapon firing and driving present as leading incidents placing the health and wellbeing of ARA and ARES personnel at risk. Risk mitigation strategies, focussing on operational exposures, weapons firing and driving are recommended to reduce the level of risk and possibly injury, mortality and illness suffered by Australian Army personnel. These strategies should be targeted towards the Private / Private equivalent and Corporal / Corporal equivalent ranks.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 6 Oct 2017
EventAustralasian Military Medicine Association (AMMA) Conference 2017 - Brisbane, Brisbane, Australia
Duration: 6 Oct 20178 Oct 2017


ConferenceAustralasian Military Medicine Association (AMMA) Conference 2017
Abbreviated titleAMMA
OtherResponding to the unpredictable: Disasters and conflict
Internet address


Dive into the research topics of 'That was close: ‘Near misses’, ‘dangerous occurrences’ and ‘hazardous exposures’ in the Australian Army'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this