WorkSafe WA has begun a proactive inspection program that examines the management of occupational safety and health risks in community-based disability and aged care assistance services.
WorkSafe inspectors will focus on systems to manage risks associated with community care, according to WorkSafe Director John Innes.
“These risks include people handling, slips, trip and falls and injuries associated with unpredictable client behaviour, as these are the most significant causes of lost time injuries in this industry,” Mr. Innes said.
“Earlier WorkSafe inspection programs in the aged care sector have highlighted the importance of having systems to identify hazards and investigate employee reports of injury risks to guide long-term control strategies.
“These control strategies can include altering job design and equipment used for cleaning and caring tasks and providing adequate training to ensure staff have clear guidance on injury prevention strategies.
“The statistics reinforce the need to look closely at the industry, with incident rates for serious and severe lost-time injuries in the WA health care and social assistance sectors continuing to rise.
“The health care and social assistance industry has one of the highest frequency rates of all industries for lost-time injuries, with the frequency rate for serious injuries to community and personal service workers more than double the national frequency rate.
“Body stressing and slips, trips and falls are the top two mechanisms of injury in this industry, with sprains and strains the most common injury. In 2013/14, these injuries resulted in an average of 84 days lost from work per injury.
“Sprains and strains tend to take a long time to heal, especially back and shoulder injuries, and these long-term injuries can result in financial strain for workers, employers and the industry in general.”
Inspectors will look at the following issues:
- Whether service providers adequately assess risks in clients’ homes before directing employees to provide services;
- That all incidents are reported and adequately investigated;
- Whether employees understand procedures and policies for reducing these; and
- Whether the main injury risks to employees have been controlled as far as is practicable.
Further information on OSH management in health care and social services and information on this inspection program can be obtained by telephoning WorkSafe on 1300 307877 or on the website at www.worksafe.wa.gov.au.