More than 10 per cent of musculoskeletal injuries (MSIs) occur in the construction industry, a WorkSafe official in Victoria says.
Delivering a sober assessment of problems associated with MSIs in his state, WorkSafe Victoria Director of Health and Safety Ian Forsyth says that in Victoria alone, there are more than 15,000 new MSI cases every year. That works out to more than 40 each day and winds up costing employers an average of $55,000 in medical costs, wages and other expenses per claim.
In total, he says, Victorian employers are paying almost $1 billion each year to treat injuries such as broken bones, crook backs and torn ligaments – most of which originate from slips, trips and falls and the dangerous manual handling. Many of which are easily preventable through simple measures such as cleaning up floor spills or providing lifting or moving equipment.
Forsyth says the construction industry, which has seen a whopping 1,653 claims for MSI over the past year, accounts for more than 10 per cent of injuries of this type, leading to workers being off for an average of more than 10 days.
“Unfortunately over the past year we have seen an increase in injuries and near misses in the construction industry, despite an overall fall in workplace incidents across the state,” Forsyth says.
“This indicates the need for construction employers to maintain their focus on improving workplace safety standards and to ensure that they are providing adequate supervision of their employees and subcontractors.”
Forsyth’s warning comes amid a new campaign launched last week by WorkSafe Victoria which uses edgy humour to highlight how easily MSIs can be prevented.
The campaign shows a worker or supervisor about to take a risk with a safety shortcut when they suddenly find themselves a contestant in The Pain Game, a game show where everyone who plays runs the risk of causing serious musculoskeletal injury to either themselves or someone else.
Forsyth says the campaign aims to highlight situations where people often know what to do to get a job done safely but are tempted to take risky shortcuts, often resulting in a serious injury.
He says WorkSafe is urging workers and supervisors to think twice before taking a risk because the consequences can be painful, debilitating, costly and easily prevented.