Skiers, elderly top ACC injuries

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.

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

Self-employed workers, who account for 18% 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,'' Mr Rae said.

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.

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.

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 Prof Greg Newbold said the top five districts had high Maori populations and gang problems.

The violence in Ruapehu would be in areas such as Taumarunui, he said.

''There is a big gang influence there.''

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.


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