Tag Archives: work related injury

Most common workplace injuries

None of us want to experience an injury at work. As employers we do not want our employees to suffer a workplace injury either. Workplace injury is an employer and employees nightmare. However much we hope it won’t happen to us, it is a regular occurrence in workplaces every day.

Workplace injuries can be placed into five types and these are by far the most common. Interestingly all are caused by human error.
Slips, trips and falls

The number one cause of workplace injury is slips, trips and falls. This occurs mostly in the retail industry where wet floors cause slips. Objects being left in the wrong place can cause trips. Falls are all too common in the construction industry. Injuries can range from bumps and bruises to unfortunately fatalities.

Motor Vehicle Crashes

People who drive for a living, head this category.  There are a number of driver errors which can result in accidents, such as mobile phone usage, eating and reading; these account for up to half of all accidents.

Accidents resulting from manual labour

Walk around any store room and you might catch someone lifting incorrectly.  Picking up, carrying and moving heavy objects can result in muscle strains or spinal injuries. We all know there is a proper way to lift but sometimes it goes wrong.  Manual handling courses are important for the education of employees and employers are responsible for providing safe equipment and procedures.

Overuse Injuries

Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) that is also known as Occupational Overuse Syndrome (OOS) are prominent amongst workers who perform the same movements over and over again. There are wide ranges of occupations that can increase the susceptibility of employees to such injuries. These can include office jobs, where individuals are typing all day every day, to manual labour, where you may be required to work in an uncomfortable position for much of the day.

Burns

Commercial kitchens are the most common workplace for burns. It would be very hard to eradicate this completely. Burns can be directly from flame or hot surfaces or via chemicals like acids Hazardous substances should be marked appropriately and all the necessary precautions taken to reduce the risks as much as possible. Protective clothing should also be worn wherever possible.

To minimise and identify all the risks to these common workplace injuries and train your staff in safety, contact Aurenda’s Safety Team.

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Safety saves lives, injuries and money says new study

How often do we say that prevention is better than the cure?  Aurenda has been saying it for over ten years now. Money, time and effort spent on safety and injury management now (prevention) saves you later with fewer lost time injuries, decreased injury claims and – potentially – lower workers’ compensation premiums.

So someone in America has done a study.

The new study, co-authored by Harvard Business School Professor Michael Toffel, Professor David Levine of the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, and Boston University doctoral student Matthew Johnson, examines workplace safety inspections conducted by California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA). It will be published in Science journal.

The study found that within high-hazard industries in California, inspected workplaces reduced their injury claims by 9.4 percent and saved 26 percent on workers’ compensation costs in the four years following the inspection, compared to a similar set of uninspected workplaces. On average, inspected firms saved an estimated $355,000 in injury claims and compensation for paid lost work over that period. What’s more, there was no discernible impact on the companies’ profits.

The cost savings applied to both small (less than $2000) and large (more than $2000) workers’ compensation claims, and the reduced injuries and cost savings lasted for at least four years after the inspection. These findings suggest the inspections had a lasting, across-the-board effect.

“We spent several years collecting data, not just on injuries, which is very important, but also on other indicators to see whether inspections led to problems they are often accused of causing – like whether they increased costs and led to the elimination of jobs. We looked at company survival, employment, sales and total payroll to see if inspections were detrimental to the employers,” said Levine.

“Across the numerous outcomes we looked at, we never saw any evidence of inspections causing harm,” Toffel explained. “If OSHA inspections conducted in all 50 states are as valuable as the ones we studied, inspections improve safety worth roughly $6 billion to employers and employees, ignoring pain and suffering. The overall message of our research is that these inspections worked pretty much the way one would hope. They improved safety, and they didn’t cost firms enough that we could detect it.”

From Science http://www.sciencemag.org/content/336/6083/907

This study was applied to high risk industries, small to large enterprises and the results were the same: workplace site inspections and audits saved the business money in the long run. At Aurenda we say “because injury costs” and here is the proof.

 

 

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WOP/WOL Payment of Wages while a Claim is Pended

In the Western Australian workers’ compensation system, it is generally accepted that entitlements such as medical investigations and treatment, and even vocational rehabilitation, can be funded on a Without Prejudice/ Without Admission of Liability (WOP/WOL) basis while liability on a claim is being determined.

A recent situation experienced by one of our clients has caused us to consider WOP/WOL issues in greater depth.

An insurer advised an employer – a client of both Aurenda and the insurer – to pay wages to an injured worker on a WOP/WOL basis even though the claim was pended and the worker was not at work.

When queried on this advice, the insurer stated that they sometimes advise employers to pay wages when in all probability the claim will be accepted. The insurer believes that paying wages will negate the need for the employee to lodge an application at Conciliation and Arbitration Services (CAS), where an order to pay wages may be granted anyway. The insurer also feels that by paying wages in these circumstances, the employee may be deterred from seeking legal advice.

In our experienced opinion, under NO circumstances should wages be paid – even on a WOP/WOL basis – until the claim has been accepted.

Our reasons for this are as follows:

  • If you’re going to pay wages – why pend the claim?
  • If you think in all probability the claim will be accepted – why not just accept the claim, why bother with the investigations?
  • Paying the wages gives no incentive for the employee to make any attempt to return to work – especially in circumstances when the workers’ compensation rate of pay is greater than their base rate of pay.
  • There is no evidence that the employee will not seek legal advice while the claim remains pended.
  • If an application is made at WorkCover for wages to be paid (when the claim is pended) an order is not always granted in favour of the employee.
  • Once wages payments have commenced, it is difficult to stop them – this would no doubt require a visit to CAS at WorkCover in any case. This could also be an incentive for workers to drag out the resolution process.
  • A worker could justifiably assume their employer has accepted liability for their injury if wages are paid prior to investigations taking place.
  • It doesn’t set a great precedent for other workers if everyone who lodges a claim is paid, regardless of whether their claim is accepted.
  • If the claim is accepted, the employer will be obliged to back-pay wages. If the claim is declined, however, and the employer has paid wages on a WOP/WOL basis, it is not possible to recoup these wages from the worker.

We believe that all workers who suffer a legitimate workplace injury are entitled to fair compensation for their injury. Sometimes, however, claims are pended because more information is required to assess the injury and determine liability – and sometimes injuries are not compensable. A very small percentage of workers fall into this situation. The fact that the employer has identified significant cause for concern, in our opinion, means that they should not bear the additional onus of paying wages when there is no legal obligation to do so. The best interests of all parties are served by everyone, including the worker, focusing on a fast determination of liability. A focus on a solution is always Aurenda’s preference.

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May 6, 2012 · 6:55 am

Workplace falls followup

Back in February Aurenda wrote a blog about fall protection in the workplace.

https://aurenda.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/fall-protection-in-the-workplace/

This week two major companies have been fined for their failure to protect their staff from injury.

John Holland has been fined the maximum civil penalty of $242,000 by the Federal Court. The John Holland employee was working at BHP Billiton’s Mt Whaleback mine at Newman on March 19, 2009. The worker died after he stepped onto an unsecured sheet of grid mesh and fell 10 metres to the floor.
There had been two other incidents of injured due to this unsecured mesh earlier in the week and the employer had failed to do anything about it.

http://www.perthnow.com.au/business/john-holland-fined-over-wa-workers-death/story-e6frg2qc-1226338930675

In another incident in NSW, Supermarket giant Coles has been fined $170,000 and ordered to pay legal costs after a worker fell through a ceiling at a store in Sydney five years ago.
The worker, then 42, climbed over a handrail to access promotional material stored on a suspended plasterboard ceiling at the company’s Manly store in August 2007. The worker fell more than two metres, suffering lacerations to the head, whiplash and bruising.

The Coles Management knew that the plasterboard was unsafe to walk on and erected a barrier. However it still used the area as storage and failed to educate the staff as to the danger.

http://news.ninemsn.com.au/national/8458151/coles-fined-over-workers-fall

In both cases, the companies were aware of the dangers prior to the fatality and major injury respectively. If the death or injury of workers is not traumatic enough, both events were over three years ago. New legislation would mean the companies and their directors would be responsible for far larger fines.

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Q. Do I have to lodge a claim with my insurer if an employee sustains an injury?

A.         It is the employee’s choice as to whether they lodge a claim so the employee also has a right not to lodge a claim. You do not have a right to convince the employee not to lodge a claim and you cannot lodge one on their behalf. If an employee chooses not to make a claim, a small business owner should not pay any wages or medical costs because you can be deemed by your insurer as accepting liability.

If an employee decides not to lodge a claim they are liable for all their own medical costs and have to take sick or annual leave. If they don’t have any sick or annual leave left, they don’t get paid. The risk with that is that after two or three weeks and they get the $2000 bill for a CT Scan, they come back and say they want to lodge a claim.

 

Give Aurenda a call on (08) 6389 8900 to discuss how best to manage these types of injuries.

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What do I need to do when an employee sustains a work related injury?

A worker being injured at work is a very stressful experience for everyone concerned. If you are a client of Aurenda, www.aurenda.com ring us on (08) 6389 8900 and we will do everything for you.  Just like this company that has our number of their First Aid lanyard. Image

Otherwise this is the procedure:

  1. Initially you need to get them appropriate medical care. When they are seen by a doctor they need to get the First Medical Certificate (FMC).
  2. You legally have to provide them with a claim form which you can get from your insurer or you can download it from the WorkCover website.  That claim form has to be filled in by the employee and nobody else and has to be signed by him or her in three separate places. You have to make sure they sign it appropriately.
  3. Part of the claim form is the Employers Report of Injury (ERI) form.  It is very important that it is filled in the employers own words, don’t just repeat what the employee has said.
  4. Both the FMC and the ERI form have to be lodged with your insurer within five working days of you receiving the FMC from the employee.

 

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