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Work-Related Injury

1. Profile of work-related injury in NSW

Centre Investigators
Soufiane Boufous, Ann Williamson

Summary
This project aims to describe work related injury in NSW for the period 1999/2000 using the Inpatient Statistical Collection and WorkCover data. Work-related injury is a major public health problem in Australia with the National health survey indicating that over one third of (37%) of reported injury or injury-related condition were work-related. Workers compensation scheme (WCS) data is currently the most widely used source of information to report on work related injuries in Australia . The data however is more likely to underestimate the magnitude of the problem because it does not include less severe injuries and the self employed who make up 15-20% of the paid work force. In addition, evidence showed that not all workers who are eligible to make a compensation claim would do so. During 1999-2000, an activity code was introduced as part the NSW Inpatient Statistics Collection (ISC) which allowed the identification of work-related injuries in the collection. This study involves a comparative analysis of both Inpatient Statistics and Work Cover datasets for the 1999-2000 financial year in an attempt to ascertain the potential benefit of the introduced activity code in the surveillance and monitoring of work related injuries in New South Wales . The majority of hospital separations for work-related injury were males (85%) with contact with various objects, including machinery and tools, representing the most common mechanisms of injury and open wounds and fractures of the upper and lower limbs as the most common injury nature/location. Injuries reported in the WCSS were also dominated by males (70%) with muscular stress while handling objects as the most common mechanism of injury and sprain and strain of lower back as the leading nature/location of injury. The proportion of those aged 15-19 years in the WCSS (1.2%) was over five times lower than the proportion of the same age group recorded in the ISC.


2. The effects of precarious work on occupationl health and safety

Centre Investigators
Ann Williamson

Collaborators
Phillip Bohle, Michael Quinlan (School of Industrial Relations and Organisational Behaviour, UNSW)

Summary
The aim of this project is to examine the effects of precarious working arrangements (eg. casual work, payment by results) on occupational health and safety in the transport, hospitality and call centre inductries. This study is using survey methodology to evaluate current work practices and health and safety outcomes in the three industry sectors; transport, hospitality and call centres. For the trucking industry component of the project, a survey instrument was designed based on previous surveys of the long distance trucking industry as well as the literature review. The survey covered the nature of employment, including the hours of work, payment, work-home relationships and a range of aspects relating to occupational health and safety. Just over 200 questionnaires were completed by casual and full-time employees in a range of companies based in New South Wales .

The call centre and hospitality industry stage of the project involved several convergent interviewing processes. The in-depth interviews were aimed at establishing the main occupational health and safety issues perceived by workers in each industry sector and identifying links to the work environment, work organisation, working hours and work-life conflict. Thirty-nine interviews were conducted in hotels and 35 in call centres. In both hotels and call centres, casual and full-time employees were sampled to allow differences and similarities in the OHS issues they faced to be identified. The findings from the convergent interviews were used to develop industry-specific items for the survey questionnaires used in those industries. Survey questionnaires have been completed by 200 call centre employees and around 50 hotel employees so far. Initial analyses on survey responses are now being conducted.


3. Injury Prevention and Control (Australia) Ltd Partnership project

Centre Investigators
Ann Williamson

Collaborators
Tony Parker (Queensland University of Technology)

Summary
The objective of this project is to provide an overview of injury information on the mining industry in Australia. This project is part of a larger partnership project being overseen by Injury Prevention and Control Australia (IPCA) at University of Queensland . This project involves the work-related injury section of the research programme for IPCA. A consultant, Dr Tim Driscoll, was employed to review the availability of injury information on the mining industry in Australia.


4. Analysis of the causes of electrical shock incidents in NSW mining industry

Centre Investigators
Ann Williamson, Usha Garg

Summary
The aim of this project were to describe the causes of electrical safety incidents in NSW mines and to use this information to develop better approaches to prevent this type of incident.This study involved an in-depth analysis of 110 electric shock incidents reported to the NSW Department of Mineral Resources COMET database. Most of the cases were reported as Notifiable incidents and did not result in serious injury or lost time. Most occurred underground and around two-thirds came from the coal sector. All cases were coded using a classification and coding system developed to look at the causes of occupational fatalities. Evaluation of the reliability of the coding showed good reliability. The identified data patterns highlighted directions for prevention of electric shocks in mining. Most obviously, they show that almost all of the incidents could have been prevented by audits, reviews and maintenance of mining equipment. The results show strongly that an on-going safety review system would be the single, most effective intervention to prevent electric shock incidents. The results also point out to the need to reinforce among mine employees and contractors the importance of fundamental electrical safety procedures including isolating and checking electrical equipment. This is important both because it is good safety practice, but also because, as the results of this study show, mine employees and contractors cannot be sure that the equipment they are using is safe. Overall, this project has shown the value of in-depth analysis for identifying the causes of safety-related incidents and the strategies most likely to be successful in preventing them.

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