LTIs contribute greatly to counter-productivity in many Australian businesses. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, from July 2017 to June 2018, more than 560,000 people experienced a work-related injury. A whopping 60 per cent of these injuries resulted in some time off work.
Data from 2017-18 showed 41 per cent of all serious claims were attributed to traumatic joint/ligament and muscle/tendon injuries(sprains/strains). Body stressing was the most common mechanism of injury, making up more than one third of all claims. Falls, trips and slips were responsible for another 23 per cent of all injuries, as too was hitting or being hit by objects.
Of those injured workers that took time off work in 2017–18, 48 per cent took five or more days off work, or had not returned to work.
Safe Work Australia performed an analysis based on compensation data from 2012–13. It estimated that incidents resulting in at least one shift of time lost cost businesses $3.1 billion. When workers’ compensation premiums were included in the calculation, this estimate rose to $11.5 billion.
“Safe Work Australia performed an analysis based on compensation data from 2012–13. It estimated that incidents resulting in at least one shift of time lost cost businesses $3.1 billion. When workers’ compensation premiums were included in the calculation, this estimate rose to $11.5 billion.”
There are many strategies that can be implemented to help reduce the risk of lost-time injuries occurring in the workplace.
Creating a positive safety culture should be a top priority of all workplaces. To nurture a safety culture, WorkSafe QLD recommends:
Perform regular risk assessments. When new machinery is implemented, a new worker is introduced, or procedures are changed, a new assessment should be performed.
Perform task analysis and document the inherent requirements of tasks. This can help to ensure that workers have the capacity to meet all inherent requirements of a job.
Up to date task analysis can also help guide recommendations for return to work and alternate duties.
Personal protection equipment (PPE) should only be used as a supplement to higher-level control measures, it is still important to consider.
Investing in good quality equipment can significantly reduce the risk or severity of injuries. In some studies, providing appropriate PPE and training, can reduce the incidence of some injuries by up to 60 per cent.
“Providing appropriate PPE and training, can reduce the incidence of some injuries by up to 60 per cent.”
Training and education for the workforce is essential to ensure they adhere to safe work practices. Topics can include the following:
Workplace healthcare providers can help address these concerns by providing lifestyle advice and health coaching, to reduce the impact that many preventable lifestyle factors can have on a worker.
Ensure there is an effective injury prevention and management program in place. This could be in the form of an early intervention program. The goal is to act early to minimise the impact and duration of injuries or illness.
Overall, effective programs have been shown to deliver a five-fold return on investment. Early intervention programs have been found to improve recovery outcomes and allow employees to remain at work. It has also been shown to reduce the length of time employees are away from work and reduce the likelihood of further absenteeism.
For employers and the workplace, effective early intervention programs have been found to foster a productive and supportive work environment, increase the likelihood of return to work and in the long term, reduce the cost of premiums.