Musculoskeletal injuries are behind more than 50 per cent of all workers’ compensation claims in Queensland each year.
According to WorkCover Queensland data, more than 40,000 musculoskeletal injury claims were lodged across all industry sectors with an average cost of $7,059 per claim in 2014-15.
While it is not surprising that musculoskeletal injuries make up the majority of claims due to the manual handling nature of many occupations, said WorkCover Queensland industry manager Jane Stevens.
“The top three most common causes of musculoskeletal injuries are lifting, carrying or putting down objects, falls, and repetitive movement or strain,” Stevens said.
“The best start an employer can make to minimise and eliminate these injuries is develop and implement an effective risk assessment approach.
“Some employers we educate initially feel helpless, citing risks outside of their control as the root cause of musculoskeletal injuries.
“However when a simple, often cost effective, initiative can be implemented to eliminate those risks they are really surprised at the premium reductions they can achieve by keeping their workers safe,” she said.
Stevens pointed to a growing trade services organisation, CV Services Group, which had dramatically reduced injuries and benefited from a 100 per cent return to work rate after an injury, significantly reducing claims costs and improving productivity.
CV Services Group, which provides electrical design and construction solutions, communications and data, electrical infrastructure, facilities management, maintenance services and commercial signage, implemented a range of injury prevention measures to target repetitive injuries such as lacerations, eye injuries, muscle strains and back injuries.
Key elements included:
- policy changes to reduce eye injuries and lacerations, including the mandatory use of gloves, glasses and long sleeves and pants
- introducing a “back fit stay fit” program, developed in conjunction with Spinal Injuries Association and an occupational therapist
- consulting with workers at safety forums and toolbox talk programs
- promoting work health and safety
- a safety induction program
- developing an electrical safety and compliance manual
- regular on-site inspections and yearly external audits.
The initiatives have led to significant improvements in the group's performance with the lost time injury frequency rate reducing from 27.7 per million working hours in 2009/10 to zero per million working hours in 2013/14.