Injury Management

Three key things to get injury prevention and management right

Jake Toulantas – Occupational Therapist, Acumen Team Manager NSW

Any business manager in a high-risk environment understands the importance of good injury management for the safety and wellbeing of employees, and the obvious business costs that can happen.

However, just because you’re not in a high-risk industry doesn’t mean injuries can’t occur in your workplace.

Every business and industry has its own risks – both psychological and physical.

In my 10 years spent in the occupational rehabilitation world, I’ve worked across a wide range of industries – from banking and finance to military and DVA, airlines, several government organisations, and many small to medium employers.

While these industries and companies couldn’t be more varied and different, there are some fundamental approaches that I believe apply to all organisations.

1. Prevention is better than cure

As a health practitioner, I was always taught that prevention is better than cure.

When it comes to employers and injury prevention, it’s no different. This is why injury prevention and management partners are so important for your business.

On one hand, it’s about the bottom line.

For example, a musculoskeletal injury creating a time-loss injury will not only slow down your productivity but also hurt your insurance premiums.

In the current labour shortage climate, you often can’t afford to have your workers off injured as chances are it will impact your revenue.

On the other hand, it’s about people and safety.

We all have important jobs and want to go home to our families and loved ones.

If you’re operating in a high-risk environment, it’s important to have assessed all the risks and taken necessary precautions to mitigate them.

I know if I were an employee at an organisation where a repeat occurrence of injuries was present, and my employer wasn’t doing anything about it, it would show me they simply don’t care about employee welfare.

That in itself is demotivating and certainly doesn’t help sustain a good culture.

2. Expect some levels of anxiety and stress

When you’re helping an injured employee back into your workplace, there’s always a bit of anxiety and stress on their part.

It’s understandable.

When someone is asked to revisit a place or complete a task they’ve had a negative experience in, it is highly likely there will be a level of apprehension.

However, once they work with their injury prevention and management partner, they are more likely to feel supported through their return to work, with a graded increase in duties and/or hours typically following.

We’ve seen that employees will benefit from any amount of work that can be given to them, even as little as two hours per week.

It can create a sense of belonging, assist with establishing a routine and quite often be therapeutic.

3. Pre-employment assessments are an excellent strategy

If you want to excel at injury prevention, pre-employment assessments (PEA) are a great way to screen your incumbent staff.

They’ll help you hire the right candidate without pre-disposing them to injuries and exposing you to a potential time-loss injury.

In a labour shortage, there’s often a temptation to get ‘bums on seats’ and not worry about what risks potential candidates are exposed to if they are unfit or not conditioned for that role (particularly manual roles).

It’s also worth considering a Job Task Analysis (JTA), which can help you outline the risks associated within a particular role.

This, in turn, guides the PEA process with your provider or even helps tailor a manual handling training program for your new employees.

Knowing the risks is often half the battle!

If you’d like to learn more about understanding the risks and how we can partner your business with injury prevention and management, please get in touch with the team at Acumen.

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