Simon Collins

Simon Collins is the Herald’s social issues reporter.

Skiers, elderly most injured

ACC finds highest claim rate in Queenstown-Lakes, with popular retirement areas next

Skiers and older people are most at risk of injury.  Photo / Sarah Ivey
Skiers and older people are most at risk of injury. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Skiers and older people are most at risk of injury, according to the first geographical breakdown of New Zealand accident statistics.

The country's highest injury rate is in Queenstown-Lakes, where there is more than one claim to the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) each year for every two residents - 5943 claims for every 10,000 people.

The next-highest rates are mainly in areas with high numbers of older people, such as Rodney (third) and Tauranga (seventh).

The figures, which will be updated annually, are expected to guide local safer community councils in setting priorities to reduce injury rates.

Work injuries

The highest work injury rates are in rural areas. ACC strategic intelligence and analytics manager Andrew Rae said farming, mining, forestry and fishing have the four highest work injury rates by industry.

Self-employed workers, who account for 18 per cent of all workers, have a work injury rate that is twice as high as for employees.

"The [work injury] rates in smaller areas are going to be higher because they are small businesses, and small businesses have less health and safety precautions," said Mr Rae.

Falls

Falls are ACC's biggest single source of injury claims and - apart from skiers - the claim rate is highest for older people.

"In the home alone there are almost 450,000 claims a year, and I think the claims for falls overall are more than 600,000," Mr Rae said.

He said the figures were all based on claimants' residential addresses, so they were not influenced by out-of-towners who had skiing accidents in Queenstown, for example.

"But actually local people also ski there at a higher rate as a proportion of the population," he said.

Assaults

The highest ACC claim rates for assault are mostly in low-income districts: Opotiki, Ruapehu, Kawerau, Papakura and Wanganui. All except Ruapehu are also among the top 10 districts for the proportions of working-aged people on benefits.

Most assaults are in homes. Police data show there were 56 assaults in homes for every 10,000 people nationally last year, compared with 26 in public places.

Canterbury University criminologist Professor Greg Newbold said most or all of the top five districts had high Maori populations and gang problems. He said the violence in Ruapehu would be in areas such as Taumarunui, "there is a big gang influence there".

Road injuries

The highest road injury claim rates are split between the high-population zone of Auckland and Waikato and remote rural areas where drivers may simply assume there is nobody around the corner: Westland, Wairoa and Central Hawkes Bay.

Wairoa was also worst in a recent Herald analysis of NZ Transport Agency data for injuries per kilometre of roads.

Waikato University traffic researcher Samuel Charlton was not surprised Waikato District had almost twice as many (27) road injury claims per 10,000 vehicles as the next-highest area, the former Auckland City (16), which itself was twice the national average of 8.

"Although the Government is doing something with the Waikato Expressway, we have a high volume of traffic given the kinds of roads we have got."

On the web

- NZ Herald

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