Objective To investigate differences and similarities between three sources of work-related injury information: workers compensation claims, emergency department (ED) presentation data and hospital admissions data. Methods This population-based, retrospective descriptive analysis of non-fatal, work-related injuries of workforce participants in Victoria, Australia, has compared data from workers compensation claims and ED presentation and hospital admission data sets for the period 2004-2011. Work-related injury case frequency and rate were compared across study years according to gender, age, geographical location and injury type. Injury rates were expressed as cases per million hours worked. Results Rates of hospital admissions for treatment of work-related injury increased over the study period, compared with decreasing rates of injury in compensation claims and ED data. The highest rate of injuries to younger workers was captured in ED data. There was greater capture of musculoskeletal injuries by workers' compensation data, and of open wound and burn injury by the ED data. Broad similarities were noted for temporal trends according to gender, for the distribution of cases across older age groups and for rates of fracture injuries. Conclusions These study findings inform use of workers' compensation, ED presentation and hospital admission data sets as sources of information for surveillance of work-related injuries in countries where these types of data are routinely collected. Choice of data source for investigation of work-related injury should take into consideration the population and injury types of interest. © 2014 by the BMJ Publishing Group Ltd.