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Injuries taking more than their toll at the workplace

RESEARCH has found that 45% of employees in Australia are taking in excess of four weeks off work for minor injuries that should be resolved within five days, according to health consulting firm Injury Treatment.

Lou Caruana

Taking average weekly salaries and average costs of claims, it is estimated that employers are paying on average $18,965 more per injured employee than required.

A new early intervention illness and injury management system pioneered by Injury Treatment is resulting in significant improvements to many Australian organisations’ bottom line, according to founder and executive general manager Brooke Taylor.

This framework for injury and illness management reduces lost time, claims durations and costs. It boosts best practise leadership, clinical and rehabilitation interventions, she said.

“We developed and piloted our early intervention program with a major Australian organisation employing over 30,000 employees. As a result, they experienced a 52.2% reduction in average claim costs, a 70% reduction in claims duration and 67.7% improvement in lost-time. We can convert this to an average total saving of approximately $400,000 annually,” Taylor said.

Injury Treatment’s refined early intervention model focuses on a systematic, fast-paced and consistent approach to injury and illness notification and management. It results in prompt identification of employees at risk of developing bio-psychosocial barriers and improved health outcomes for injured or ill employees.

Taylor said a key barrier many organisations faced when implementing early intervention claims and injury management systems was lack of clarity in internal and external stakeholder responsibilities. Quite often operational KPIs are linked to lost time only, rather than incorporating results around speed of reporting, intervention, claims durations and return to work.

“Our experience has shown that the earlier organisations identify and respond to injuries, the greater chance of an accurate diagnosis, correct treatment, focused workplace planning and faster return to work results for injured or ill employees,” Taylor said.

“For companies to benefit from the model, a cultural shift may need to occur towards the promotion of rapid and open communication around health and safety reporting.”

Each state is governed by its own workers compensation jurisdiction and on April 2, the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Bill Shorten, announced a federal government review to modernise the current $1.2 billion Comcare Scheme. The new scheme will focus on early intervention and return to work.

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