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Falls leave truckies nursing injuries for six weeks

Falls from trucks are leading to almost three injuries a day, according to a new report

By Brad Gardner | November 5, 2013

Falls from trucks are leading to almost three injuries a day in workplaces and putting truck drivers off work for more than six weeks.

Safe Work Australia’s new report, Work-related injuries and fatalities involving a fall from heights, says there were 3,100 serious injury claims from falls from trucks between 2009 and 2011.

Of those claims lodged, about 50 per cent (1,540) came from truck drivers, and the median time they were off work due to an injury topped out at 6.4 weeks.

“This is equivalent to nearly 3 injuries each day requiring the worker to be away from work for one or more weeks,” the report says of the 3,100 claims.

“Their falls most often resulted in a sprain or strain of the knee, ankle, lower back or shoulder, or a fracture of the wrist or ribs.”

Across all industries, 7,730 serious injury claims due to a fall from height were lodged in 2010-2011, equating to 21 employees each day making a claim. Safe Work Australia says a typical claim involved 6.2 weeks off work.

“This is a considerable loss of productivity and employers should be ensuring workers have the correct safety equipment for the task,” Safe Work Australia CEO Rex Hoy says.

“Falls-related incidents also place a considerable burden on our health system with nearly one in 10 of the workers who were hospitalised in the 2006 to 2009 period admitted with injuries due to a fall from height.”

Safe Work Australia says the road freight sector registered 4.1 serious injury claims per 1,000 employees between 2009 and 2011, five times the overall falls-related incidence rate (0.8).

The agency also looked at data over an eight-year period from July 1, 2003 to June 30, 2011 and found trucks were the major factor in people dying from falls from vehicles.

“In the eight years from 1 July 2003 to 30 June 2011, 26 workers died following falls from vehicles. Trucks were involved in 70% of the incidents (18 fatalities). In 12 of the 18 fall from incidents the worker was loading or unloading items from the vehicle,” the report states.

“In 4 other incidents utilities were involved with 2 of these incidents also involving loading or unloading activities.”

There were 232 deaths from a fall from height across all industries between 2003 and 2011, with construction the chief culprit with 37 per cent of all falls-related fatalities.

Safe Work Australia says there has been no improvement in the number of workers killed each year due to falls from height.

“This latest report shows more needs to be done to prevent workers falling from heights particularly in the construction industry,” Hoy says.

“It is important for all workers to make safety a focus in their day to day work.”

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