Are injuries and workers comp costs holding back your business? Read this article on how to injury-proof your workplace: 

Safe Work Australia estimates that the total cost of Workplace injuries exceeds $60 billion. The reason for this $60 billion cost is that work-related injuries have a ripple-like effect on your whole organisation and bottom-line.

If a large percentage of your workforce is injured, you can expect:

• Loss of productivity from injured worker

• Increased demands on the remaining healthy workers

• Reduced cash flow

• Increased WorkCover premiums

• Poor staff morale and team culture

• Payment of wages and medical costs

• Loss of future earnings

• Social welfare payments

Workplace injuries have a number of negative effects on your business.

So what can be done to your business to ensure you don’t become another one of the statistics?

Below are 8 ways you can injury-proof your business.

1. An Accessible Health and Safety Policy

It’s essential to have health and safety policy available for all staff. Keep this simple with clear concise messages.  Also consider when doing orientation and recurrency training for employees, that the content is up to date with latest evidence. It’s recommended to review these courses every 2 years to ensure your staff are not being taught out-dated principles for manual handling and workplace safety. With regard to hazardous manual training, we recommend that the trainers running the course are Occupational Physiotherapists who have expert knowledge in this area.

2. Use the Bow-Tie Approach

The bow-tie method to risk management helps to identify hazards and establish proactive and reactive interventions to minimise the consequences. This can be applied to a number of scenarios and even injuries in the workplace – for example you believe a particular task may cause an injury to your workers. Are there any control measures you can introduce to prevent the injury? This might include equipment redesign or job rotation to reduce strain.

The bow-tie approach also looks at reactive strategies (preparing for the worst!). So in the scenario above, if an injury does occur, which is the most efficient course of action to minimise its impact? Is the worker supposed to continue performing full duties and possibly see his/her own GP, or is there a clear pathway that the worker reports the injury and seeks early intervention – perhaps even with an Onsite Physiotherapist.

The Bow-Tie Approach to Risk Management is used by many multinational organisations

Threats are what will cause your top event. For instance, a threat to causing an injury would be fatigue. The particular blocker (purple dot) to prevent fatigue causing an injury might be restructuring working hours and rosters to allow for adequate sleeping patterns.

Consequences are the results from top event. For instance, following an injury, a worker may require surgery and become a costly Workcover claim. However a blocker (yellow dot) might be seeking early intervention which could prevent the injury from worsening.

Once you have an insight into the various scenarios and what can cause them (threats), as well as the potential consequences, it’s essential to establish systems to address both sides of the bow tie. The blockers act as interrupters to the threats and consequences. Blockers can also be new equipment, technology or hardware. It’s important to know WHO is responsible for each blocker and ensuring regular checks and documentation of each hazard are undertaken.

3. Ask for Feedback from Staff

Often front-line workers can provide some amazing insight into improving work practices. Whenever implementing new operations, equipment, or procedures it’s important to consult with your staff. If a number of workers make suggestions that are economically viable and practical, it might be worth considering! Participative ergonomics greatly helps with employee buy-in and makes the transition to new measures much smoother.

4. Buy Quality Equipment

The old adage ‘you get what you pay for’ holds true here. Consider carefully the quality and functionality of new equipment. Some expert advice early on in the process could save you money in the long term.

5. Keep Records and Analyse All Injuries

Aside from the legal requirements the data you already have is valuable and you can draw actionable insights from them. Where are most of the injuries occurring? Is there a shift or seasonal trend? Are there interventions you can implement to counter these? An Onsite Physiotherapist can help implement systems and pool data together to help you identify various trends and provide suggestions to reduce the rate of injury.

Analysing injury trends can yield valuable insights

6. Pre-Employment Screening Done Right

Careful selection of employees when hiring, and screening for high-risk individuals can be most helpful. Apart from the medical aspect, having a functional and physical pre-employment screening can give valuable insight as to whether the potential worker is able to genuinely meet the job demands.

7. Encourage an Active and Healthy Lifestyle (Outside of Work)

Encourage employees to maintain a fit lifestyle. You might decide to offer gym discounts, organise a walking group, reward employees with fitness gear, encourage standing meetings or hold competitions to encourage weight-loss. Encouraging a culture that rewards activity is a huge step forward to ensuring a healthy workforce.

It’s also important to consider the mental health of your employees as well; there are many online guides and community support services to assist.  Employee wellness programmes can be outsourced if you need further guidance.

Fitness competitions are a great way to encourage a healthy workforce

8. Make First-Aid a Priority

Ensure the first-aid kit is frequently stocked and stored in an accessible place staff have access to. Allow workers to flag early signs of discomfort/pain to prevent a problem from worsening. The ‘tough as nails’ mentality is not helpful as often ‘pushing on’ can cause more harm than good and delay a full return to work duties. Having an Onsite Physiotherapist allows workers easy access to early intervention.

Struggling with high workers comp costs in your workplace? Contact AXIS today to discuss your situation and see how our Onsite Physiotherapy service could benefit your organisation.

“Many companies pay for preventable injuries without knowing. Having a healthy workforce is crucial to long-term profitability.”

David Brentnall, Director Axis Rehabilitation at Work