Strategic Occupational Injury Prevention

A report in three parts prepared for the Victorian WorkCover Authority (VWA) is now available. The objective of the Victorian WorkCover Authority Policy Research Series is to make possible more informed debate on workplace health and safety and workers’ compensation issues and development. The work published in the series is applied research and utilises the available international and Australian research in a particular area. Each Paper in the series addresses a subject from the viewpoint of practical policy change.

Policy Research Report No. 6, "Strategic Occupational Injury Prevention", is in three parts:

Part 1 – Occupational Black Spots – Victoria (Analysis and Priorities)
Authors: T. J. Larsson, G. Rechnitzer, J. Ozanne-Smith, S. Newstead & S. Gantzer

The first part covers the identification of potential priority areas for the initiation of systematic activities by the VWA to reduce occupational trauma in Victoria; and the review of the WorkCover database in regard to revamping and improving the claims information system for use in injury-prevention activities. The project included the analysis of the claims data for a 16-month period and the development of a severity criteria.

Major recommendations are made regarding the development of a systematic program for the prevention of occupational trauma; information system enhancement; initial projects focussing on the prevention of falls associated with working from heights, and pedestrian /vehicle interaction at worksites; and a regional study combining the WorkCover claims data, VISS data, regional census data and local data.

Part 2 – Occupational Black Spots – Ballarat Region
Authors: G. Rechnitzer, T. J. Larsson & B. Mantle

This report covers the identification of priority areas for the initiation of systematic activities by the VWA to reduce occupational trauma in the Ballarat Region and the rest of Victoria.

The severity index developed in the previous Stage 1 Project was used as a criterion in assessing priorities for prevention activities. Priority areas for Ballarat were identified as: Transport and distribution (vehicle-associated) lifting, loading, unloading; and Nursing personnel (hospital-based, and other key associated groups) lifting, moving, transporting people /goods in all situations.

Recommendations include the development and implementation of a 3 year rolling program for Victoria wide projects focussing initially on:

  • Transport workers – overexertion lifting, loading, falls from vehicle
  • Nursing personnel – overexertion, back injuries
  • Construction workers – falls to lower levels
  • Construction workers – traumatic contacts with vehicles
  • Traumatic contact with forklift trucks – pedestrian workers

Part 3 – "Operation Safety" – Preventing Occupational Injuries through Regional Intervention
Authors: T. J. Larsson, G. Rechnitzer & S. Lee

Click here for Executive Summary.

While the injury incidence and severity associated with all claims have increased in the rest of Victoria, there has been a substantial drop in Ballarat. Comparing 93/94 with 95/96 we record a 16% increase in claims and severity in the rest of Victoria while there is an 18% drop in claims and severity for Ballarat. The difference between Ballarat and the rest of Victoria is statistically significant (Chi-square=33.9; P<0.0001).

The transport workers have recorded a 4% drop in claims in Victoria and a 16% drop in the Ballarat region, even if the absolute regional numbers are small. The nursing staff have increased claims in Victoria by 6%, but record a 22% drop in Ballarat.

The total payments associated with severe claims have increased by 45% in Victoria and by 28% in Ballarat. If the difference is attributed to Operation Safety, the regional intervention represents an annual save of around $400,000.-. Conversely, it is projected that a state-wide intervention along the lines of Operation Safety represents an annual potential containment of payments of claims estimated at around $11.5 million for Victoria.


For copies contact: WorkCover Publications, Victorian WorkCover Authority, 485 La Trobe Street, Melbourne, Victoria, 3000. Telephone: (03) 9641 1333.