State safety authorities focus on falls

Slips, trips and falls are an expensive issue economy-wide but trucking is subject to extra effort

State safety authorities focus on falls
Sate safety authorities focus on falls
By Rob McKay | March 28, 2013

Major efforts are underway in New South Wales and Queensland to tackle a top-three cause of injury in the trucking industry - falls.

WorkCover NSW is in the midst of developing and action plan with the industry to address the scourge, even as it unveils a general initiative, with cash inducements, to raise awareness on slips, trips and falls with all businesses.

WorkCover NSW is reminding businesses that more than 71,000 workers were injured and 24 killed over the past three years.

The NSW developments come just weeks after Workplace Health and Safety Queensland launched its Preventing Falls From Trucks campaign.

"Slips, trips and falls include falling from a height, falling over on the same level as well as stepping, kneeling or sitting on an object that causes an injury," WorkCover NSW’s Work Health and Safety Division General Manager, John Watson, says.

"From 2009 to 2011, there were 71,932 workers compensation claims for workers injured or killed as a result of slips, trips and falls at a cost of $649 million to the NSW Workers Compensation Scheme.

"Common causes of workplace slips, trips and falls include spillages, workplace clutter, uneven floor surfaces and the use of ladders.

"Despite this, there are simple steps businesses can take to reduce the risk of an incident.

"These include identifying the problem, assessing the cause, eliminating or controlling the hazard and monitoring it."

For smaller businesses and sole-traders, action can be a financial burden, so financial help in available.

"WorkCover recognises that finding money for safety improvements can be challenging," Watson says.

"To support small businesses and sole traders, WorkCover offers rebates of up to $500 to help purchase and install safety improvements through its Small Business Rebate Program."

Watson adds that if a worker is injured in a slip, trip or fall, the business must have an adequate return-to-work plan for the injured worker.

"Getting back to work quickly is the best outcome for an injured worker," he says.

"For those unable to return to their pre-injury job, WorkCover has a range of vocational rehabilitation programs to help workers return to suitable employment."

Queensland’s Preventing Falls From Trucks initiative will start next month with workshops state-wide.

"Identifying safer procedures to prevent a fall from a truck is important if employers in the transport industry are to reduce claims and premiums," WorkCover Queensland Customer Services Manager Matt Cross, who manages the transport industry issues, says.

"An injury is not only a negative experience for the injured worker, as we saw in our case study film, Back on the Road, with injured worker Len, it also impacts on productivity, morale and the employer's premium.

"This workshop will help employers identify strategies to prevent falls so is a must attend event for those in the transport industry."

Meanwhile, WorkCover NSW has commenced a project to reduce workplace injuries and illnesses and improve injury management in the road freight transport industry.

"The project is part of WorkCover’s flagship work health and safety program, Focus on Industry, which involves working with the NSW community to improve safety in the State’s highest risk industries," a spokesperson says.

"In the three years to July 2011, there were 5,512 claims for injuries and illness in the road freight transport industry at a cost of $157 million with falls among the top three causes of injury together with motor vehicle accidents and manual handling.

"The program involves working with businesses to develop relevant and effective work health and safety improvements and sustainable injury management, return to work and workers compensation outcomes."

"In mid-2013, WorkCover will release an Industry Action Plan outlining how it will work with the road freight transport industry to make workplaces more productive, healthy and safe."

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