Accidents involving veteran transport workers rise

Accidents involving older workers in self-insured transport companies as a whole have increased, Comcare says

By Rob McKay | December 9, 2011

Accidents involving older workers in self-insured transport companies as a whole have increased, the agency responsible for national workplace safety, rehabilitation and compensation says.

While not disclosing the details of the individual companies responsible for the increase, Comcare says the rise is down to down to just two of the six companies in the transport, postal and warehousing sector.

Certain national companies had been able to gain self-insurer status through an agreement with the Federal Government under the Coalition but this was curtailed after Labor won the 2007 election.

The agreement means that such firms come under Commonwealth workers compensation and occupational health legislation. The moratorium will end with the arrival on January 1 of harmonised workplace health and safety laws that some states will not implement immediately.

The self-insured transport, postal and warehousing firms that joined the scheme before 2006-07 are Australian air Express, Asciano, Australia Post, K&S Freighters, Linfox Australia and Linfox Armaguard.

"Amongst Comcare’s licensed self-insurers, who operate in the transport, postal and warehousing industry, over the period 2005-06 to 2010-11, there has been a 17 percent increase in the incidence of accepted claims for workers aged 55 years or over," a Comcare spokeswoman says.

"The combined claims incidence rate for workers aged 55 or over for these six licensed self-insurers has increased from 10.7 claims per 1000 FTE [full time equivalent] employees in 2006-07 to 12.5 claims per 1000 FTE employees in 2010-11.

"The actual number of claims has risen by 20 percent over this period from 451 to 539 claims.

"While the claims incidence rate for this age category actually fell over this period for four of the licensees in this group, two licensees had significant increases."

Few transport companies avoid making safety a stated priority and many are showing improvements. Some, like Asciano in its latest annual report, admit they have "significant work to do to reach best practice".

It has instituted a ‘Home Safely’ campaign in an effort to improve its performance.

Australia Post - despite its "comprehensive" OH&S program, which had seen "a decade of consistent reductions in our lost time injury frequency rate" - has seen its lost time injuries per million work hours spike in 2010 to 8.8 after averaging about 7.2 in the previous four years.

Australia Post was recently fined $160,000 after Comcare court proceedings centred on a Queensland forklift accident and the agency has tackled the firm over motorbike safety.

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