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Top Cause of Worker Injury Claims revealed to be Sprains and Strains.

Sprains and Strains or Musculoskeletal injuries account for nearly 43% of all serious work-related injury claims in Australia. According to Safework Australia Work Related Musculoskeletal Disorders (WMSDs) are the most common condition for which workers’ compensation claims are currently lodged. Of these injuries, up to 10% are knee-related and up to 38% are back-related, making complex joints like the knees and back an injury hotspot, for workers.

Complex joints such as the knee, wrist, ankle, back etc. are made up of soft tissue such as ligaments and tendons that provide support and flexibility to the bones and surrounding muscle. Overstretching, damage, or tears to such tissue can result in a sprain or strain. Such injuries can be a one off incident or a series of incidents leading to chronic wear and tear injuries.

In Australia most musculoskeletal injuries can be accounted to Body Stressing, tasks or through impact injuries caused by a Slip, Trip or Fall. Body Stressing injuries account for 40.8% and Slips, Trips, Falls account for 20.9% of Sprain and Strain injuries.Workers who perform repetitive manual tasks or who are exposed to physical labour are at a high risk for Sprains and Strains. Industries like Contract Cleaning, Health Care, Aged Care, Manufacturing, Transport and Logistics, Warehousing and Construction are amongst the highest risk sectors for Sprains and Strains. According to Clean Start Contract Cleaners are only second to Concrete Construction Services.

Work-related factors are the primary causes of Sprains and Strains at work. Manufacturing workers have a very high incident rate due to muscular stress while lifting, carrying or putting down objects repeatedly, while Construction workers’ injuries are often due to repetitive movements and low muscle loading. While body stressing causes the vast majority of sprains and strains, slips trips and falls, or impact injuries can also result in significant tissue damage. Slippery surfaces, sharp or moving machinery and falls from heights can all contribute to WMSDs
Individual Factors such as age, overall health, and training also tend to influence WMSDs. Sprains and Strain incidences rise with age, to peak in the 40-44 age group.

Employers and OHS professionals can take several steps to reduce the risk of WMSDs for workers.

Ergonomic Solutions
– Using the right positioning, or raising work off the floor eliminating the need to work
– Tools and Equipment designed to perform work without requiring the worker to kneel or bend for eg. Rolling Stools, Tool Extensions.
– Choosing less impact-full and rough surfaces to perform work on when possible, and taking small breaks to relieve stress on the knee.
PPE Solutions
– Choosing Cushioning barriers like kneeling pads, knee pads or portable cushions to reduce impact on the knees.
– Correct cleaning and fitting of kneepads and other PPE to provide optimum comfort and protection.
Other Solutions
– Use ladders and supports to descend or ascend from heights, avoiding jumping and impact
– Wearing correct footwear on slippery oily or rough surfaces to avoid trip and falls.
– Rostering work time to avoid long periods of squatting, kneeling and/or bending for any one worker.
– Maintaining a healthy weight and strengthening the leg-muscles, back muscles or muscles surrounding the knee.

The use of PPE is considered the last line of defence against WMSDs. Used correctly ergonomic PPE such as Back Supports, Knee Pads and Kneeling pads can provide support cushioning and serve as a reminder to use correct bending lifting or kneeling techniques.

Body stress injuries take a toll on 1 in 3 construction and mine workers

BODY stressing injuries are affecting one in three workers in the construction and mining industries, contributing to lower productivity in the workplace.

Thirty four per cent of serious injury claims in the construction and mining industries involved body stress injuries from 2008-09 to 2010-11,¹ according to Safe Work Australia (SWA).

Body stressing injuries usually occur from conducting a range of manual tasks every day, repetitive movements or poor posture. According to SWA, the claimants’ injuries were mainly due to muscular stress while handling a range of materials and equipment (construction industry) or due to muscular stress while handling mobile plant and transport (mining industry).

More people needed to be aware of the risks of body stressing injuries, which usually present as muscle aches, pains and strains; back conditions or tendonitis.

“Many people do not appreciate that there is a strong probability of suffering body stressing injuries from regularly conducting strenuous manual tasks, such as heavy lifting or carrying,”
“Employees who are injured at work can experience long periods of incapacity, leading to time off work and financial pressures. It can be a very stressful experience.
“We advise all workers to minimise the risks of getting body stressing injuries like sprains and strains by demonstrating good posture, following safety protocol and wearing the right gear. Ergonomic gear like back supports are a great way to reduce sprain and strain injuries and improve the quality of your life.

“The Ergodyne® 100 Economy Back Support is a belt worn around the lower back and the rubber track webbing helps keep support in position. The company is renowned for its experience in delivering workplace back supports, inventing and patenting the first workplace back support 30 years ago.”

Pryme Australia also distributes Ergodyne® wrist supports and knee pads.

Pryme’s tips for preventing body stressing injuries:

  • Follow safety instructions and undertake training
  • Ask for assistance to set up your work area to avoid strain
  • Take regular breaks around the office
  • Talk to someone early if you feel symptoms
  • Research what support is available
  • Review health status with GP regularly