At a pre-employment level, this workers compensation data needs to be analysed and the engagement medical modified to capture the risk factors, particularly around the neck and back (and any other types of injuries connected with the claims experience). From an individual perspective, this information can be used to monitor how the individual comes into the business and further, what health programs and interventions are put in place to manage them in the workplace. If a particular occupation shows trending in one type of injury, why would an organisation not put in a layered intervention (Defence in Depth) to retard or reduce both the likelihood and the impact of an injury occurring? This can be done through health promotions such as back care programs or periodic health reviews with ‘at risk’ workers to see if there has been any degradation or indeed improvement. When a worker leaves an organisation, there always remains the future possibility of an insurance claim for injuries sustained in the originating workplace, which have deteriorated over time. Most organisations play a form of ‘Russian roulette’ with exiting workers as there is more often than not, a complete inability to ascertain what level of risk they may present in the future.
The ‘dump truck driver working on a mine-site’ example illustrates the benefits of implementing a Defence in Depth strategy to occupational health. By aligning the four critical health defence layers (pre-employment, health management, injury/claims management and exit medical) within an organisation, the short term benefits will be achieved through a healthy, productive workforce that has dedicated health platforms in place to manage all ongoing health issues and the long term benefits will include a reduction and severity in workers compensation claims for existing employees, reduction in absenteeism and being able to impart a level of control to any future 3rd party claims for past employees who submit over period of time claims.
A defence in depth approach to health will, in my opinion, provide significant cost reductions to current siloed practices and lead to far greater measureable outcomes aimed at maintaining a fit and healthy workforce.
About the author
Mark Cassidy is GM of Risk and Innovation at 2CRisk. If you would like to find out more about how 2CRisk can help you tackle the challenges of health management, go to www.2CRisk.com.au or you can contact Mark on +61 1300 736 361 or e-mail info@2CRisk.com.au
James Reason (1990) Human Error, Cambridge University Press.