Construction employers urged to take action to reduce claims spike

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Employers in the construction industry must focus on injury prevention and workers need to stay safe as the industry gears up to take an anticipated 40% hike in workers’ compensation claims for March, according to WorkCover Queensland.

WorkCover Queensland data shows that last year claims in March were 42% higher than the number of claims made in January. Obviously the Christmas shutdown means less people are working, and therefore less injuries and claims are made in January, but that’s only part of the story.

The spike in March is still 11% higher compared to February claims.

WorkCover Queensland Industry Manager, Construction, Melanie Stojanovic warns, “In March last year the construction industry experienced a 42% per cent increase in the number of claims lodged compared with January. With an average claim cost of $11,854 per claim, these numbers can have a significant impact on an employer's premium and the construction industry as a whole.”

The reasons for the increase in claims in March could be attributed to:

  • Workload – there may be increases in workloads following the Christmas holiday shutdown and in the lead up to the upcoming Easter holiday period
  • Cutting corners – trying to get the job done to tight schedules can result in safety procedures not being followed, or cutting corners to meet deadlines
  • Deconditioning – bodies can become de-conditioned to a task if it hasn’t been performed for a while, becoming more prone to injury when starting a task again
  • Injuries worsening over time – aches or pains that may have started to niggle soon after resuming work in January may be starting to cause problems now, if workers haven’t sought treatment
  • Fatigue – work tiredness can set in as it may have been a few months since holidays.

What are the common injuries?

WorkCover's data indicates that over the 2014–2015 year, the construction industry saw musculoskeletal injuries account for 46% of injuries, and wounds and lacerations add up to 28% of injuries. The average paid days off work is 41 days.

Those figures aren’t a surprise, as according to Nathan Green, Exercise Physiologist, musculoskeletal disorders are the most common type of occupational injuries that result in lost time, medical and rehabilitation expenses. “The occupational risk factors for these injuries are repetitive motion, awkward or sustained postures and forceful actions,” he said.

Top tips to reduce risk of injuries

Melanie said WorkCover is keen to work with employers to help them reduce these types of injuries, keeping claims costs down and therefore helping reduce their premium. She offers some advice on preventative measures employers can implement to reduce the risk of injuries from increased workloads and body deconditioning:

  • Consult with an Allied Health Professional about how a warm-up program may be beneficial to reducing the risk of a strain or sprain
  • Use the services of an Occupational Therapist to discuss any pain or niggle to try and prevent them getting worse
  • Conduct a refresher tool box talk on correct workplace safety procedures, lifting techniques and manual handling etc
  • Plan workloads and shifts to ensure appropriate workloads per worker
  • Have regular meetings with workers, even if it's just a short catch up to discuss workload and identify any possible injury hotspots.

More information and resources

For advice on preventing injuries and reducing your premium, please contact your WorkCover Relationship Manager, or call 1300 362 128.

Hazardous manual task resources

Managing risks

Construction industry resources

Exercise is medicine Australia

Last updated
09 September 2016