WorkSafe Victoria will begin a state-wide inspection campaign targeting musculoskeletal disorder injuries, commonly known as “sprains and strains”.
Improvement and prohibition notices will be issued where safety issues are found. In some cases, prosecutions may follow where serious safety breaches are identified.
According to John Merrit, Executive Director, WorkSafe Victoria, preventing injuries from manual lifting and slips, trips and falls are the focus of this campaign. These injuries accounted for more than 60% of all workplace injury insurance claims in 2007 to 2008.
Technological solutions such as robotics and the bulk supply of raw materials are helping to eliminate manual lifting in manufacturing. In the health and aged care sectors, patient-lifting devices have had a significant impact on these injuries.
According to Merrit, many employers did not seem to realise that affordable mechanical solutions were readily available and that costs are no longer prohibitive. These solutions have been available for many years and work towards reducing unsafe manual lifting.
Injuries from slips, trips and falls where workers were using unsuitable ladders or climbing on furniture to reach and handle objects located above shoulder height are of particular concern.
Mobile scissor lift work platforms or mobile, stable steps with a work platform and handrails such as we see in supermarkets, are readily available. These solutions will reduce injuries, and increase productivity and also help to minimise business costs associated with managing claims and potential legal and reputation issues.
Creating a safer, more productive workplace requires thought and action. Once the process has begun, it must be followed through. It has been often found by WorkSafe inspectors that plans are developed, but not put into effect.