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Preventing sprains and strains starts with a conversation

More than 60 per cent of all serious injury claims in Queensland are from sprains and strains (musculoskeletal disorders) and the financial and human costs are high.

The average workers' compensation claim cost of these injuries is more than $13,000. However, the average total cost to businesses, family and the community (including time lost, recruitment costs, lost productivity and re-training) for each claim is more than $55,000.

Preventing sprains and strains brings many business benefits, such as increased productivity and better worker engagement, along with the direct costs saved from avoiding injury. This means identifying and addressing the problem are very important steps to take.

Workers must be involved in this process - they are the most familiar with their duties, they know where the problems are and they will have good ideas on how to fix them. Checking with workers on tasks they believe are creating the most discomfort, pain or fatigue, is a good indicator of what exactly is leading to sprains and strains – and it can help highlight what tasks to focus on.

Some simple survey questions such as those outlined below, is one way to check if sprain and strain concerns are present and need your attention. If you have a small workforce, it could be a conversation you have with your workers. If you are a larger workplace, try asking workers to fill out a survey anonymously or make it part of a toolbox discussion.

Ask workers to think about their experience of work-related sprains and strains and then answer the following.

  1. The current work that I do causes body aches, pain or discomfort.

    Never

    Occasionally

    Sometimes

    Often

    Always

  2. I report issues concerning sprains and strains risks at work.

    Never

    Occasionally

    Sometimes

    Often

    Always

  3. What tasks/activities do you do that makes you go home feeling sore and or fatigued?
  4. What tasks/activities do you dislike doing the most?
  5. What tasks/activities would you most like to change?

Use this information as a starting point to identify what tasks to risk assess, using one of our hazardous manual tasks risk assessment tools at worksafe.qld.gov.au/injury-prevention-safety/hazardous-manual-tasks.