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Information for Psychologists, Occupational Therapists, Nurses, Exercise Physiologists and Doctors.
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Home » Employers » More Useful Information » Injury Prevention-What This Involves and Why

Injury Prevention-What This Involves and Why

The best management practice for workplace injuries is to avoid having them happen in the first place.  Although this is an admirable objective and should remain so, there is an unfortunate reality - business activities are planned and performed by humans who are fallible and prone to error. To minimise the potential consequences of human error in the workplace considerable research has been undertaken in the last 100 years to determine what procedures and practices will result in an efficient, healthy and safe workplace. 


The following outlines some key considerations for injury prevention whether it is a psychological injury, physical injury or a disease that is contracted at the workplace.


Step 1 – Evaluate the Attitude of the company, and its leaders


Although the ultimate goal of any business is to survive and get ahead in a competitive environment, the way this is achieved has significant implications on the people who support it as employees, its customers and its productivity in the short, medium and long term.


It cannot be underestimated, how important the attitude and values of business leaders are to the Healthand safety of employees. They are reflected in the product or service the company delivers, in the attitudes of the staff to their job and to customers.  It is reflected in staff’s attention to detail, to safety and in how they deal with setbacks and difficulties when they arrive.


The attitude and values of a leader is reflected in the behaviour of that leader and the messages that are sent to its employees. The behaviour that is expressed will result in consequences, some immediately felt, and some at  a later stage.  In turn there will be responses and consequences from staff that are employed as well as from customers and suppliers.


In a healthy environment the leaders will:


  • Acknowledge that staff input and team work is essential for the survival and competiveness of the business.
  • The leaders will be positive and motivational.
  • Be organised and have sufficient vision to be able to plan and conceptualise the results of their decision and actions on a range of levels over a longer time frame that next week.  in terms of OH&S, it will be taken seriously and resources will be put into developing policies and procedures to minimise the risk of injuries occurring. 
  • Have an interest in developing the skills and abilities of staff within their organisation as much as possible.
  • Have an understanding of the importance of give and take in creating a healthy work environment
  • Have vision and principles that they hold and adhere to and practice daily as they go about their business.
  • Have  values of fairness and honesty underpinning their practices
  • Will have rules and consequences of breaches that will be consistent and practiced fairly. 
  • If injuries do occur genuine concern will be felt for the injured worker. They will feel supported when they attempt to return to work and upgrade.


In a less healthy work environments there are likely to be problems with values and attitudes of the leaders.   There may be a sense that the boss is only in it for themselves and doesn’t care less about anyone else.  There may be contradictions in “do what I say” vs. “do what I do”.  Problems can occur when there is a rigid punitive culture, or equally significantly, where the company is wandering along aimlessly and without any real passion, drive or direction.


In contrast an unhealthy  environment with  less than positive and constructive leader willexhibit the following characteristics:


  • The manager or business owner may give off a “vibe” that their interests are all that matters.
  • If there is any attention to WHS at all it is likely to be to prevent fines and to protect the bottom line because of the financial repercussions of injury.
  • The wellbeing of employees, if considered at all is likely to be of relatively low importance. 
  • When injuries occur the attitude displayed to an injured worker is likely to be along the line of “what an inconvenience!” – “Do you know how much this will cost me in premiums?”, The employees and injured workers are likely to feel that any setbacks, difficulties or injuries that occur are perceived as a deliberate attempt to make life difficult for their employer.



Step 2 Evaluate who you employ, how you do so and the implications - 


Of equal importance to productivity and health of an organisation , are the attitudes and behaviours of the employees who do the work. A good employee will provide services for your business that will enable it to be profitable.  They will be an asset to the team and will be dependable when there is pressure and deadlines. 


In contrast, a less than ideal employee will have questionable skills, qualifications and abilities that they bring to the job. Where they do have the prerequisite qualifications their performance (like an unreliable car) is likely to be erratic and unreliable. Similarly to the bad employer or manager, they are likely to be self focussed and interested primarily in what they get for themselves out of the job.  They are unlikely to have any interest or concern for their co-workers or the people who give them the job in the first place. 


When considering human resources, it is best to start at the beginning –recruitment. It is more time efficient and cost effective to develop a staff member who has innate capacity, and good attitude to start, than it is to try and change someone who lacks the fundamental attributes to be a good employee.  A good analogy for picking staff, training and skilling and then monitoring their work performance and the effect on your business is as follows.



A good gardener / a good employee

Picture a gardener who decides to make a new garden.  The gardener may be doing it commercially or may be it is a backyard hobby.


First they need to understand the environment they are in and what they want to grow or achieve - for example there is no point in attempting to grow Antarctic Beech in a tropical climate . Similarly an employer must understand the environment they are in and decide if what they want is achievable.


A gardener has to decide what plant stock they will need.  As well as deciding the stock, they must ensure the soil is suitable and appropriate for the plant s growth.  Likewise a business has to be ready to put in the time and resources to assess the roles and duties a new employee may need to fill (often changing over time and in response to an evolving business environment). They need to assess skills qualifications attributes, personality characteristics that will be most suitable for the new environment.  They need to decide how they are going to do this - through resume culling, interview, psychometric testing, work trial, outsource the recruitment. When a decision has been made they must induct, train and supervise a new employee if they want good performance down the track and want to minimise errors and problems - errors may be accidents leading to injuries.


Some of the areas, a thoughtful employer will also need to give care full consideration to, include:


  1. Prerequisite qualifications
  2. Prerequisite work skills 
  3. Natural aptitude and intelligence
  4. Sufficient interpersonal skills to fit into the team
  5. A stable employment record
  6. A healthy attitude to working
  7. Resilience and ability to manage stress


Depending on the job specific skills and attributes may be required such as:

  1. public speaking
  2. marketing and sales
  3. mechanical aptitude
  4. artistic aptitude
  5. ability to work in a team
  6. leadership
  7. conflict management


The importance of getting the right staff cannot be underestimated, particularly with small businesses.  The smaller the business the more significant each team member is in the overall product or service delivery in areas such as , ability to get along with people,  the morale of the team,  the reliability of outputs, the consequences when things go wrong.  One badly managed injury claim can cost a small business tens of thousands of dollars.  For some badly managed businesses an injury was waiting to happen and was the straw that broke the camel’s back - i.e. it led to the business closing and / or bankruptcy. 


Small businesses do get better at picking winners with their staff and develop systems for recruitment. There is a considerable amount of information on the net offering pointers to recruitment of staff for employers.  It can be confusing for employers to digest what they might like to know versus what they need to know and then tailor their methods to their business situation.


We will be launching simple training packages overviewing employment considerations for small to medium size business in time. This package will offer practical information and pointers to:

  1. Consider who you should and shouldn’t employ
  2. Have the best ways to advertise for staff
  3. Choose the best method for selecting staff and
  4. On how to decide on who you should ultimately employ



Step 3 – Identify and Reduce the Risks of Injuries Occurring


Different business activities create different types and different levels of risk of accident and injury. For example the risks associated with nursing in a geriatric ward will be different to the risk posed by a clerical worker whose work involves occasionally keyboarding.   Public contact position where customers are experiencing strong emotions - such as where decisions about money being posed will pose a different type of risk again - the effect of abuse of and threat can lead to stress related injuries.  The premiums set by WorkCover NSW are reflective of this; however, the actual risk will vary across and within businesses and occupations within businesses and be influenced by a number of factors


It is important for employers to identity the types of risks their employees are exposed to and to then eliminate them as much as possible. The following checklist a starting point for all businesses.


The following guidelines are suggested by Worksafe Australia for the prevention and management of bullying however they are appropriately adaptable to cover any injury risk or situation:


  1. Identify the types of injuries that could occur and the consequences
  2. Assess the likelihood injuries will occur and the consequences
  3. Manage the risks by eliminating them, or minimising them as far as reasonably practicable,
  4. Review the effectiveness of injury prevention and management strategies
  5. Consult workers taking those views into account before making decisions on Health and Safety matters
  6. Consult, co-operate and co-ordinate activities with other duty holders with other persons who have a work Health or safety duty in relation to the same matter, -
  7. Develop a healthy workplace culture including concepts suchs as, developing a code of conduct, raising awareness of unacceptable behaviour and its damaging effects, developing appropriate human resource policies and procedures, empowering supervisors and managers to respond constructively and efficiently to Workplace Health and safety incidents and facilitating teamwork

We also encourage companies to develop a Workplace Health and Safety and Injury Management policy encompassing:

  • A statement that the organisation is committed to preventing injuries
  • The procedures and standards of behaviour required to minimise the likelihood of incidents or accidents
  • A process to encourage reporting, including contact points
  • Policies and procedures for assisting workers to return to work after injuries including expectations of support from co-workers and and supervisors
  • Outline the consequences for not complying


Develop a workplace safety committee that regularly reviews and monitors procedures and makes appropriate adjustments to policies and practices in response to incidents, or changes in circumstances where risks and responses require change and provide information and training on Workplace Health and Safety for workers.


This may encompass training in WHS, injury prevention, injury reporting, injury management principles.


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