If you want a productive workforce, then you need a healthy workforce. It is the cornerstone of any successful business. However, in order to maintain the health and productivity of your workplace you need to be proactive about it, which means putting a plan into place to help prevent workplace injuries. The alternative? Well, you could always choose a reactive course of action; however, this is going to result in lost time, higher costs, and likely, significant injuries.
Workplace injuries are costly. In fact, in the 2017/2018 business year, Safe Work Australia reported that there were over 100,000 serious compensation claims made. Serious claims include any absence from work that lasts at least one week. Of those claims, an astounding 36% of the injuries were caused by body stress – a very high percentage for something that could also be easily avoided.
Early Intervention Is Key
It isn’t just the cost of absenteeism, lost productivity and insurance premiums that can affect your business. The most recent statistics from Safe Work Australia show that workplace injuries cost $61.8 billion annually. Additionally, once a worker has been off for three months, the likelihood of them return to work reduces to just 50%. Therefore, the prevention and management of injuries is key!
The purpose of putting an early intervention system in place is to minimise the number of injuries, reduce claims, lower claim costs, reduce lost time injuries and ultimately improve employee health. But, how effective are early intervention programs at actually achieving these goals?
In a study undertaken by two separate Australian poultry plants, claims data was assessed over a period of four years. After exactly two years, Plant 1 rolled out an Early Intervention Program, while Plant 2 maintained its standard approach. What they found was that after the implementation of early intervention program Plant 1 saw a 24% reduction in lost time claims. Of the claims that were lodged, there was a significant reduction in costs per claim, and the lost time went from eight days to five days.
How does an onsite physio help with early intervention?
Early intervention, through an onsite physio program, allows employees to gain access to treatment at the earliest onset of an injury. The treatment of niggles, aches and pains within 1-7 days is known to significantly reduce the severity of an injury and reduce the likelihood of the issue escalating into a larger problem. In many workplace environments, when a worker is injured, they reported to the first aid officer who files a report and often recommends a visit to the doctor. When the injury is medically based this is the best course of action but when the injury is musculoskeletal in nature, a physiotherapist is best placed to assess the injury. Having an onsite physio available in your workplace ensures that injuries can be accessed and treated immediately. In turn this reduces the risk of long-term sick leave, chronic and degenerative injuries, and most importantly keeps your workforce fit and healthy.
An onsite physio is able to perform a subjective and objective assessment of the injured employee and determine whether or not they can safely perform the inherent requirements of the role and if not, they are able to recommend appropriate alternative duties for the injured individual. A qualified physiotherapist will also be able to identify lower level stiffness and strains, that if left untreated could potentially progress into more serious injuries. Once these low level niggles are identified, the physio can work with the individual to treat the injury and more importantly provider education around ways to prevents it from reoccurring or flaring back up.
Poorly managed injuries with extended time off doesn’t just impact the injured employee, it also creates a ripple effect throughout the workplace. Effective treatment keeps your employees on the job, active, and helps improve the health and safety culture within the work environment. All of that to say, your workers are going to be happier.
It’s more than just treatment…
When a physio works onsite, they not only treat workplace injuries they also work alongside the health and safety team to improve the overall health of the workforce. An onsite physiotherapist has many tools in their tool kit that can be utilised to reduce risk, improve safety, educate the workforce and assist individuals to manage their injuries.
All in all, early intervention programs are a great way to reduce the risk and severity of workplace injuries, improve employee functional fitness and create a positive cultural changes onsite.