Tag Archives: workplace injury

Injury Management is our business

An interesting article was published in Australian newspapers last week. It was the story of a truck driver who works for a mining company in WA. It is a story about rights: the rights of the injured worker and the rights of the employer. Reading the article is seems that there is much confusion out there about the WA Workers’ Compensation legislation. And as the articles title goes to show, for the person who has never had to deal with it, it can be a quagmire of lawyers, committees, departments, insurers and doctors.

http://www.smh.com.au/comment/greg-ross-caught-up-in-work-cover-quagmire-20130827-2sn2c.html

The position we take at Aurenda is that the employer is a mining company. Their core business is mining. They have full intentions of keeping their employees and contractors safe and uninjured. Nobody wants the people who are doing work for them, to be hurt in anyway.

Some mining companies choose to keep their injury management entirely in-house with no reference to external specialists to assist them . As injury management specialists we believe this is toying with danger. As much as they have a human resources department to oversee it, the reality is that these are human resource specialists with a mining focus not injury management specialists.

We can see from this article that the people coordinating the injury management are attempting to do their best with good intentions. The reality is that they just don’t have the experience of a company like ours, where what we do is Workers’ Compensation and Injury Management day in, day out. We have seen just about every possible permeation of workplace injury and a library of case studies to guide us in times when the case is unusual.

A company we work with recently sent us some feedback for one of our injury management managers:

  • Timely communication – quick to notify of any issues (e.g. attendance, non-compliance, performance problems)
  • Quick return of requested documentation (e.g. within a few hours of request)
  • Effective management – takes on board our suggestions, open to feedback and eager and willing to cooperate with Injury Management strategies
  • Solutions-focused approach – rather than taking an obstructive approach re: what can’t be done or why that’s hard, he works with us to find a solution and how he can help

If all these points had been applied to the case highlighted in the newspaper, perhaps the conflict may not have arisen.

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Benefits of an Injury Management Course

Jane Carn is the Workplace Health and Safety and Injury Management Manager at Valued Independent People Inc (VIP).

My background was in care.  I worked on ‘the floor’ in a 24-hour care home in England for six years.  In the last two years I was an Assistant Manager. I worked for two companies and was the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) representative for both.  I had input into the health and safety of both places.  Most of my OSH knowledge is through on-the-floor experience so I am building up my training.

I came from England to Australia so I needed to learn all the different laws and regulations.  I completed the 2-day Occupational Health and Safety Refresher Course at Aurenda to build up my knowledge.  I also completed the Injury Management Course. A lot of knowledge that I now use in this position was covered in the course.  I am currently studying for my Certificate IV in Health and Safety.

I have worked at Valued Independent People Inc (VIP) for about 10 months. VIP is a disability sector organisation that provides support for adults with disabilities and dual diagnosis mental health issues to participate in the community. I am the workplace Health and Safety Manager which includes being the Injury Management Coordinator.  I work with the staff and our individuals making sure they are all practicing workplace health and safety and following manual handling guidelines.

On a daily basis I receive all the incident and accident forms. I investigate them all and where further actions arise from my investigations, I pass them on to the relevant people to address.  I observe the workplaces making sure people are following the policies and procedures and people are happy in their work and write and amend policies and procedures as required. I provide support to all staff and they can ask me any questions. I manage the Health and Safety Representatives in the bases (VIP has four bases) and make sure they are up to date with their health and safety knowledge. I make sure they have access to the current OSH procedures.

In my Injury Management Coordinator role, if someone gets injured at work I follow the procedures in getting them to the doctor, and that is where Aurenda come in. They are the middleman between VIP and the workers compensation insurance company. I send them all the paperwork and they deal with the insurance company. They are there on the end of the phone if I need to ask any questions.

The Injury Management Course was three days full of information. Coming from England, there was no injury management side of things when I was there. I came into a job with minimal knowledge and the course was fabulous. I have been here nearly a year and managed to get quite a few claims through. I also understand what goes on even though I have a lot more to learn.

Aurenda are also very helpful and support me. In the course we went through all the company implications, the process that a claim needs to go through, the input that we need to have with the worker. Aurenda give you a lot of strategies to work with in different cases.

Video of Jane speaking about Aurenda’s courses 

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Filed under Aurenda, Health and Safety Representatives, Injury Management, Injury Management Training, Manual Handling, Occupational Health and Safety, Occupational Health and Safety Training, Workplace Injury

FAQ: Working from home, workplace safety and workers’ compensation.

Question:

An employee has asked to work from home. It is possible from a productivity point of view. What happens in relation to Workers’ Compensation?

Answer:

Having home-based employees is becoming more common due to the changes in flexible hours, technology and productivity. However, having your staff working from home does raise issues that you cannot ignore when it comes to Work Health and Safety and Workers’ Compensation.

“When you allow an employee to work from home, you surrender control of their environment and working habits, so it’s essential to take the time to prepare in order to avoid landing in hot water. Fear of legal action shouldn’t deter you from encouraging flexible work practices, but it does mean that you should take measures to protect yourself should a crisis strike.” http://www.businessroom.com/en/Article/Categories/Managing/Workers-compensation-for-employees-that-work-from-home

If you decide to go down the path of allowing employees to work from home on a regular basis, be proactive in your approach:

  1. Maintain regular workplace health and safety training and include home-based work safety examples.
  2. Discuss the protocols for home workplace safety upfront. Make sure your staff members understand their responsibilities.
  3. As the employer, you have a duty of care to provide a safe workplace wherever your employees are based – and this includes their home. Conduct a workplace audit of their home working environment.
  4. Employee workplace safety responsibilities still exist at home so they must identify unsafe situations and report hazards, incidents and injuries. Provide them with specific training in conducting worksite risk assessments and place expectations on them to provide your safety personnel with the outcomes of these assessments.

Ultimately, if your home-based employee does suffer an injury in their workplace (their home!), they may well be covered by workers’ compensation.  However, there are parameters that need to be met for an injury to be considered under workers’ compensation, ie did work contribute to a significant degree to the injury?  Your workers’ compensation process should be initiated to enable a proper and fair assessment of the situation to be undertaken prior to a decision on liability.

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Communication is the key to best practice injury management

The other day we posted an American article on Linked In about a survey of injured workers and why they get compensation lawyers. The most surprising reason was that almost half the injured workers thought their claims had been contested, even though the paperwork had just begun and no decisions had yet been made.

Click here for a link to the article

The cause of this was put down to employer silence and lack of communication with the injured worker. As much as we would like to think that Australia is different to the USA, we know from experience that the same thing happens here.

 When a workplace injury occurs, some employers will put their heads in the sand.

Image

Although the law is very clear about the responsibilities of employers in relation to workplace injuries, when it does happen, some employers don’t really know how to handle it. Unfortunately they choose the “don’t say anything” route.

 As in any work relationship, communication is the key to understanding by both employer and employee.

 So before the unspeakable happens, what is the best way of avoiding this lack of communication?

  1. Employ a third party to assist you. (that’s the plug to contact us)
  2. Educate yourself and staff about who will deal with workplace injuries and what processes will be followed.

Aurenda’s Injury Management Coordinator Course is employer-focused and designed for anyone who has responsibility for supervising or managing injured workers in the workplace. This is an essential program to learn practical skills to proactively manage injured workers and their claims.

Aurenda’s next course is scheduled for the 27th, 28th February and 1st March. (Wed, Thurs, Fri)

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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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Q. A worker has sustained a serious injury in my workpalce. Who do I need to advise?

When someone is injured at work you are obliged to contact the following organisations:

  • If you are a client of Aurenda, contact us on (08) 6389 8989 – we will provide the next steps;
  • If you are not a client of ours, you will need to contact your insurer; and
  • Depending on the severity of the injury, you may also be required to notify WorkSafe WA or the relevant Authority in your state.

In Western Australia, reporting is required for employees who suffer death/ injury/ disease at work or at employer-provided residential premises as described under s23G(2) of the WA Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984.

Types of injuries that must be reported to WorkSafe WA:

  • Death.
  • A fracture of the skull, spine or pelvis.
  • A fracture of any bone in the arm, other than in the wrists or hand, or in the leg, other than a bone in the ankle or foot.
  • An amputation of an arm, a hand, finger, finger joint, leg, foot, toe or toe joint.
  • The loss of sight of an eye.
  • Any injury other than those referred to above which, in the opinion of a medical practitioner, is likely to prevent the employee from being able to work within 10 days of the day on which the injury occurred.

Types of diseases that must be reported:

Infectious diseases:

  • tuberculosis,
  • viral hepatitis,
  • legionnaire’s disease and
  • HIV

where these diseases are contracted during work involving exposure to human blood products, body secretions, excretions or other material which may be a source of infection.

Occupational zoonoses (diseases spread from one species (animals) to humans):

  • Q fever,
  • anthrax,
  • leptospiroses and
  • brucellosis

where these diseases are contracted during work involving the handling of, or contact with, animals, animal hides, skins, wool, hair, carcases or animal waste products.

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Keeping it safe – 10 tips to a safer workplace

Safety in the workplace is all about KEEPING ourselves and each other safe.

Here is Aurenda’s top ten tips to KEEPING it safe.

The Workplace

1. Keep everything well maintained

Equipment needs to be maintained in good working order and the staff knows how to use it.

2. Keep it clean

A clean workplace is easier to keep safe
Clean up spills or mess straight away

The Workers

3. Keep everyone  involved

Involvement leads to ownership of safety

4. Keep communicating

The staff must feel comfortable speaking up about something that is unsafe
Managers or bosses need to follow up their concerns.

5. Keep safety equipment on

Hardhat, boots, safety glasses, masks, clothing, gloves, seatbelts,

6. Keep an eye out:

For breaches in safety
Employees doing procedures the wrong or unsafe way

The Information

7. Keep Instructions clear and precise

As if you were reading something for the first time
Never assume workers know how the machinery works safely

8. Keep everyone updated in
Health and safety rep training (Aurenda runs regular accredited courses and refreshers)
First aid training
Changes in procedures

9. Keep alert to:
Legislation  changes  (Aurenda is up to date. Follow us on Social Media channels)
Unsafe procedures
And

10.Common Sense
Let’s all look after each other out there

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