New South Wales WorkCover reforms have created controversy this week, with unions and businesses split in their acceptance of the new compensation measures.
While business Australia has backed the reforms – which include a reduction to weekly benefits after the 13 week mark – union groups state that the new measures will force workers back onto the job before they are fit to work.
However, while the furor is going on in NSW, WorkSafe Victoria is currently battling a $1 billion issue that is leaving workers unable to return to work long after the highly controversial 13-week mark.
Musculoskeletal injuries stand as the occupational health and safety body’s most pressing issue, with these kinds of injuries causing long-term effects to muscles, joints, tendons, ligaments and nerves, leaving workers in serious pain off the job.
“Musculoskeletal injuries are the most common workplace injury, costing nearly $1 billion a year in medical costs, wages and other expenses,” says WorkSafe assistant treasurer Gordon Rich-Phillips. “Every day 43 Victorians are seriously hurt with these injuries, with an average workers’ compensation claim costing $55,000 [in] medical costs, wages and other expenses.”
In light of these issues, WorkSafe has launched the Pain Game Campaign, a year-long promotional strategy aimed at tackling musculoskeletal injuries in the workplace.
It will aim at educating workers of the risks involved in ‘dangerous manual handling particularly lifting, lowering and moving things.’
These practices lead to a massive 68 per cent of all of musculoskeletal injury claims, with a further 20 per cent a result of ‘slips, trips and falls.’
According to Rich-Phillips, the campaign will include “ensuring people are properly trained and supervised, use the right equipment and clean up spills to prevent falls are no-cost or low-cost measures that will reduce workplace accidents.”
Rich-Phillips believes the issue has become as large as it has and has continued for far too long due to a lack of injury reportage. Because these kinds of injuries do not receive the same kind of media attention as major falls and other higher-impact injuries, they have simply fallen off the radar.
Battling this lack of information head on, WorkSafe Victoria will shine a spotlight on the issue and offer to support the unheard victims of musculoskeletal injuries, getting them the treatment and support they require and helping them return to the workplace as soon as they are fit.