Corporate Health and Safety October 25th, 2010, by Ken Buckley

This week, 25th to 29th October 2010, is the sixth edition of Safe Work Australia Week aiming to encourage employers and employees to get involved in safety in their workplace.

Each year, this safety week is filled with nation-wide programs, seminars and consultations covering a wide range of OHS topics such as workplace environment, managing manual tasks risks, musculoskeletal disorders, asbestos, noise, chemicals, workplace bullying, and more specifically this year seminars about the new harmonisation of occupational health and safety legislation.

According to WorkSafe Victoria, over 140 000 employees are seriously injured at work every year, which represents over 1.2% of the Australian workforce. This means that 12 out of 1000 employees will be off work for at least a week this year due to work-related injuries. And out of these 12, two will be off work for longer than six months. Hence workplace accidents cost more than you think, and also touch human, social, and organisational aspects in addition to the economical part.

The direct costs of a workplace injury are extremely high but can be anticipated. They include incapacity of payment for lost earnings, medical costs, rehabilitation costs and property damage.

However, the list of indirect costs is much longer, may run as much as 20 times the direct costs, and can greatly affect the productivity and efficiency of a whole organisation.

They include time lost from work by the injured employee and by his/her co-workers who stoped working during the incident, recruitment and training costs, higher risk of injuries to other staff, lower morale, absenteeism, increased workload and uncertainty for co-workers, cost of material/equipment replacement, depending on the severity of the accident it can also damage to the organisation’s reputation and include investigation reports’ costs.

In short, Work-related injuries and illnesses are estimated to cost Australia’s economy more than $45 billion a year.

When we talk about work-related injuries, we do not only refer to physical ones. Even though manual handling caused by lifting or moving objects was the cause of 41 per cent of all serious claims in 2008-2009, new figures show that stress is now one of the main causes of workplace injuries in Australia.

According to Dr Peter Cotton, clinical and organisational psychologist, work-related psychological injury continues to be a challenging issue across all Australian workers compensation jurisdictions. Claims are continuing to increase in most jurisdictions and claim costs for psychological injury are consistently higher relative to other injury types.

If there is one thing to remember from this Safe Work Australia Week is that work-related injury, illness and death can be prevented through the adoption of safer work practices.

For more information on Corporate Health & Safety Program, contact Healthworks on 1300 90 10 90 (International: IDD 61-2-9954-1888 ) and be sure to quote: “post711” for eligibility of Healthworks latest online offers and Corporate Health initiatives.

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