What to do after an injury from slips, trips and falls or a sprain or strain injury at your place of work.
Sprain and strain injuries, also known as musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), are the most common work-related injury, accounting for nearly two-thirds of all work injuries.
These injuries, which can be disabling and permanent, are caused by hazardous manual tasks (HMT) such as:
- pushing or pulling
- slips, trips, falls at the same level (STFAL).
The average workers' compensation claim cost of these injuries is over $13,000. However, the average total cost to businesses, family and the community (For example, time lost, nursing, recruitment costs, lost productivity, re-training) for each claim is over $55,000.
These injuries are preventable. After a sprain or strain injury it's important to:
- determine what caused the injury
- make changes to prevent further injuries
- support the worker with rehabilitation and return to work.
When fixed, the business benefits from reduced risk and absenteeism, improved productivity, staff morale and staff retention.
Sprains and strains assessment
Inspectors will visit workplaces which have had a recent worker's compensation claim for a sprain or strain injury. The below information and resources will help businesses prepare.
Manual task injury
|What can an employer do?||Resource||Description|
|Check||Hazardous manual task systems self-assessment tool (PDF, 0.22 MB)||Check your existing work processes and systems using this simple tool. The traffic light checklist will highlight what you are currently doing well and what gaps you have.|
|Identifying and assessing manual tasks||Check if the task that injured your worker is a HMT and whether it involved any risk factors that need to be controlled.|
|Manual tasks risk management worksheet (PDF, 0.23 MB)||Investigate sprain and strain injuries and assess HMT with this simple worksheet.|
|Tips for hazardous manual task training (DOCX, 0.86 MB)||Information to include in HMT training for your workers.|
|Lifting technique training is it effective?||Bending your knees and stretching are not adequate training methods and do not prevent sprain or strain injuries. Read more about this and learn what your workplace should be doing.|
|Systems thinking films||Systems thinking helps you to think about the big picture when you identify all the issues related to a HMT.|
|Improving manual risk controls after musculoskeletal disorders||Information to help large employers improve the effectiveness of their systems for incident reviews to prevent MSDs.|
|Chat||Manual tasks risk management worksheet (PDF, 0.23 MB)||
Consult with workers on sprain and strain injuries and assess HMT's with this worksheet. |
Workers perform their tasks more regularly than anyone else so they are often the ones who know where the problems are and have good ideas on how to fix them.
|Participative Ergonomics for Manual Tasks (PErforM)||PErforM is a simple manual task risk management program based on worker participation to reduce sprain and strain injuries.|
|Change||Hazardous manual tasks resources||Download resources to prevent HMT including films, webinars and case studies.|
|Hazardous manual task systems self- assessment tool (PDF, 0.22 MB)||Modify or develop procedures to find and fix other sprain and strain risks on an ongoing basis.|
Slips, trips and falls injury
|What can an employer do?||Resource||Description|
|Check||Slips, trips and falls at level systems self-assessment tool (PDF, 0.19 MB)||Check how potential slip, trips or falls in the work area are handled using this simple tool. The traffic light checklist will highlight what you are currently doing well and what gaps you have.|
|Slips, trips and falls risk management||Check for the causes of the injury and what needs to be fixed to prevent further injuries.|
|Slips, trips and falls information||Manage the risk of falls including floor surfaces, footwear and housekeeping.|
|Slips, trips and falls at level incident worksheet (PDF, 0.1 MB)||Investigate and assess STFAL with this simple worksheet.|
|Safe design and use of stairs||Check the risks of falls on stairs and steps at your workplace.|
|Systems thinking films||Systems thinking helps you to think about the big picture when you identify all the issues related to a slip, trip and fall injury.|
|Chat||Work health and safety consultation, co-operation and co-ordination code of practice 2021 (PDF, 0.43 MB)||
Consult with workers to identify where STFAL problems are in the workplace and consider their ideas when implementing solutions. |
'Near misses' and 'missteps' are a sign that something far more serious can occur.
|Change||Slips, trips and falls information||'Watch your step' or 'walk don't run' do not fix the cause of the problem. Read more about this and learn what your workplace should be doing.|
|Slips, trips and falls at level incident worksheet (PDF, 0.1 MB)||Modify or develop procedures to find and fix other STFAL problems on an ongoing basis.|
|Safe design and use of stairs||Eliminate the risk of falls on stairs and steps at your workplace.|
- Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 - Part 4.2 Hazardous manual tasks
- Hazardous manual tasks code of practice 2021 (PDF, 1.38 MB)
- Work Health and Safety Act 2011
- Managing the work environment and facilities code of practice 2021 (PDF, 0.57 MB)
- Moving gas bottles – Monarch Building Systems (PDF, 0.15 MB)
- Handling oxy bottles – Monadelphous Engineering (PDF, 0.11 MB)
- Maintaining the internal lining of furnaces – Bradken (PDF, 0.11 MB)
- Unloading containers – TJM Products (PDF, 0.1 MB)
- Using an oxy cutting/welding torch on rotators – Monadelphous Engineering (PDF, 0.12 MB)