Workplace injuries are a costly affair. A total of 912.8M AUD was spent on workers’ compensation in Queensland alone in 2016-17, and in 2017-18, this expense reached 943.5M AUD. These amounts were spent on medical and rehabilitation payments, lump-sum payments, weekly benefits, and other statutory payments. In addition to these, workplace injuries and illnesses can also lead to reduced productivity and low morale in the facilities where the injuries took place, not to mention the lifelong effects that the injury might leave the affected worker with.
Both public and private sectors are keeping a close eye on workplace injuries and illnesses in an effort to reduce their occurrence, if not prevent them from taking place. Having a first aider in the workplace is a solid step towards this direction. An employee who has completed first aid training in Brisbane or other highly urbanized areas in the country can provide immediate response to workplace injuries and help keep injured or ill workers in a stable condition until professional medical attention arrives. In addition, a first aider can help workplaces identify the hazards present in the office or facility.
Another way of preventing workplace injuries is getting to know their most common causes, as well as what can be done to address them. Below, we take a look at the 3 top mechanisms of workplace injuries in Australia:
Body stressing is the most common mechanism of workplace injury, causing almost 40 per cent of all serious claims in 2016-17 according to the data published by Safe Work Australia. It can be caused by strenuous work, repeated or awkward movements, exposure to vibration, and even poor posture, and it manifests in the form of strains and sprains, back and shoulder injuries, joint and bone injuries, chronic pain, and nerve injuries, to name a few. All workplaces, from offices to construction areas, have hazards that can cause body stressing injuries or musculoskeletal injuries (MSD).
The methods for combatting body stressing greatly depend on the nature of the workspace and the kind of work required from the workers. The first step would be catching the early signs of body stress and identifying the particular cause of the injury. From there, the management and employees can try work setups, tools and devices, or work processes that limit their exposure to the source of body stress.
Falls, slips, and trips
After body stressing, trips, slips, and falls are the second most common mechanisms of injury in the workplace, accounting for 23.6 percent of all serious claims in the country. More than half of these incidents are due to environmental factors, followed by tools or equipment.
To prevent slips and trips, it’s important to clean up spills and walkways and to keep these areas free of clutter and debris. Good lighting in these areas and the use of abrasive floor mats can also help people keep their balance.
There are also plenty of safety guidelines, equipment, and tools specifically designed for preventing falls. When at-heights work can’t be avoided, workers should be keenly familiar with their workspaces and strictly adhere to the guidelines put in place for their safety.
Hit by moving objects
Getting struck by moving objects accounts for 15 percent of serious workplace injury claims in the country. A good chunk of these incidents involved another living thing like another person or an animal, items like non-powered hand tools, and materials and substances in the work environment.
Prevention for this kind of incident should be done prior to work. Workers in the area should don proper protective equipment like helmets, which can help absorb the impact of falling or moving objects. At the same time, they should also check that the tools and equipment that they will be using are all in good working order and secured to their person—no loose pieces that can fall away.
Forewarned is forearmed, as the famous saying goes. Familiarizing your place of employment with these causes of workplace injuries can go a long way in preventing accidents. Remember that every workplace has hazards, and the more familiar you are with the hazards found in your work environment, the better you can adapt your safety guidelines and procedures.