Better management of injured workers needed

by 17 Apr 2007

Employers need to manage injured workers better if they want to reduce workers compensation costs under the current state regimes, according to risk advisory firm Marsh.

“With the average size of each claim on the rise, effective management of injured workers is one of the best ways to reduce workers compensation costs,” said Marsh workforce strategies specialist Kirsty Roser.

WorkCover NSW has previously revealed that although the number of claims being filed is decreasing, the average size of each claim has risen by 37 per cent over the last decade. Similar increases have been felt in other states.

“This clearly indicates that injured workers aren’t being managed properly and, in many cases, poor decisions are being made, resulting in larger claims,” she said. “For example, quite often bed rest or sick leave is not the solution even though employers think it might be.”

The latest round of claims data released by WorkCover NSW revealed that 62 per cent of injuries are sprains and strains, most commonly caused by manual handling or minor falls, and 27 per cent of claims relate to back injuries.

Strategies for effective injury management include:

• prompt procedures and guidelines for reporting incidents and referring those incidents to professionals;

• efficient tracking and quality control around the professional medical advice and treatment that the employee receives; and

• effective return to work plans that encourage return to work and suit the treatment.

OHS policies should also effectively improve workplace safety and reduce the incidence of injury in the first place, Roser said.