The latest in CTC’s Safety Series Seminars was held on Wednesday, 24th August. The focus for this seminar was to highlight how to avoid workplace injuries and how WorkCover Queensland can work with employers to reduce the impact on injured staff.
The seminar coincided with Tradies National Health Month which aims to raise awareness of the risks posed to those who work in trade occupations. Tradies National Health Month is an initiative of the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) and we were fortunate to have Marina Vitale representing their organisation as a guest speaker. She was joined by Gabrielle Turner, Ashleigh Quilty & Troy Mewburn, Customer Advisors with WorkCover Queensland.
Marina said statistics from WorkCover Queensland reveal that muscular skeletal injuries account for 42% of reported injuries and of these, 33% are back injuries. While we all age, the state that our bodies are in, combined with accumulated injuries incurred every day for years, impacts the nature of workplace injuries.
Factors that are important for managing injury risk include:
- Where you work
- Manual task risk
- What you do
- How you work
Tools workers can use to prevent injury include:
- Weight management
- Quit smoking
- Drink sufficient water
- Sleep and eat well
- Manage health conditions
Employers should use prevention tools such as:
- Encouraging employees to report niggles early
- Walk the talk – lead by action and example
- Refer to the Hazardous Manual Task Code of Practice 2011
- Review SOP’s – how things are done should be aligned with the Code
- Conduct ergonomic analysis
- Use PErforM – a collaborative approach to manage task risk in the workplace (the regulator promotes training in this area)
- Train supervisors specifically on return to work and muscular skeletal anatomy
- Proactively manage older worker issues
- Offer early intervention services
- Utilise Job Access and Job in Jeopardy programs (these are Commonwealth funded programs lasting 6 months providing access to an exercise physiologist and GP care through Centrelink)
Physiotherapists can assist by:
- Improving health and wellness
- Conduct worksite visits
- Demonstrating exercises for improving balance/pelvic floor – important part of core strength
- Providing functional capacity evaluations
- Conducting fitness for work assessments
- Conducting pre-employment assessments
- Providing Suitable Duties and Return to Work services.
Workers can manage muscular skeletal discomfort by:
- Avoiding overreaching
- Using mechanical assistance where possible
- Maintaining tools – keep these sharp etc. so no pushing required
- Be conscious of hand tool design
- Keeping neutral positions for power and stability
- Avoiding awkward postures
- Avoiding ill fitting shoes
The following factors which affect worker recovery rates:
- Not reporting early
- Not receiving treatment early
- Not receiving the correct treatment
- Inappropriate duties being assigned on return to work
Marina finished her presentation by demonstrating some stretches that can be incorporated into the workplace.
Gabrielle Turner, Ashleigh Quilty & Troy Mewburn (Customer Advisors) then spoke about how WorkCover Queensland can help business by identifying trends, assisting with the return to work process, injury prevention management (IPaM), information campaigns and access to industry resources.
The construction industry had 9,620 claims costing $116 million and required 35 days off work on average – 42% of these were muscular-skeletal 33% were classified as lacerations and burns. Consulting Workcover Queensland to promote a safe work environment can result in lower injuries and reduced premiums.
Potential flags that claims are escalating:
- Claimants not engaging with the business
- Focussing on pain rather than using positive language
- Poor support network
- Claimants becoming withdrawn from social activities
- Longer recoveries
- Struggling with performance
Proactive employers display the following:
- Early return to work from claimants
- Keep in contact with the claimant
- Invite claimants to work social functions
- Educate employees on the return to work process
- Have employee assistance programs (counselling) available
- Ensure claimant’s colleagues are aware of their alternative duties
To find out more about CTC’s Safety Series Seminars, call us on 07 3216 6711 or visit our website.