Injury Reduction

I have not yet come across a business that intentionally injures its employees as a part of its strategy. Employers large and small are all too aware of the financial costs involved with an injury be it from a loss of production, increased insurance premiums, or the dreaded common law claim. They are also aware of the cost to the employee and their family as well as the impact on workplace morale.

While not inevitable, unfortunately workplace injuries do occur from time to time. If this happens, it is the business’s efforts to reduce these injuries and subsequently manage the injured worker that will ultimately influence the financial and human cost of that injury.

Injury Management Techniques

  1. Know your role and pick the right employee - be aware of the physical requirements a role has. This includes what employees will not meet those requirements. This does not mean you can discriminate against an applicant based on their appearance, but it does mean that if there is a documented height, weight or strength that is required for an employee to perform this role safely, then you must adhere to it.
  2. Listen to the professionals - if you are fortunate enough to have all of your potential candidates reviewed medically before employment then please heed the medical experts’ advice. If red flags are raised about capability, then just because you feel sorry for the candidate does not mean you should give them a job.
  3. Prepare the employee - make sure your potential employee is adequately prepared for the role. Have them conduct the appropriate training (manual handling is a must) and advise them of the known hazards and control measures you have in place. Additionally, become a best practice employer and implement a ‘warm up’ procedure for employees to follow. Although the notion of having your workforce stretching for five minutes before cracking on may seem comical, this action may be the last step between your business and a zero-harm status.
  4. Take pain complaints seriously - if an employee complains of pain take it seriously and give them the time of day. Although you may know from experience how sore an employee gets in the first 2 days, the new employee doesn’t. This is the time you listen to their complaint, take it seriously and then give them the strategies on how to get past this.
  5. Investigate injuries promptly - without getting into an employer’s legislated obligations it goes without saying that safety should override production so when the injury happens get it investigated ASAP. The best information is gathered when it is fresh in people minds and not after it is thrown around the lunch room.
  6. Implement the findings of the investigation - the only thing worse than an injury occurring is two injuries occurring because you didn’t learn from the first one. Not following the recommendations of an investigation and having a similar, subsequent injury can be terrible for morale and worse still can show a possible negligence on an employer’s behalf.

If you are to employ these tactics starting tomorrow I unfortunately can’t guarantee that you will never have an injury at your workplace again. What I would say however is that you should use the information you are given during job design, recruitment and employee consultation to form the best possible risk mitigation controls.  There are significant financial and cultural benefits to be gained from doing so.

As always if you are interested in discussing possible risk controls or other WHS issues in your workplace then please call Focus HR and talk to one of our Consultants.