Mishaps a Hume habit

WORKPLACE injuries have cost Hume businesses $120 million in the past five years, far in excess of its north-western neighbours.

A WorkSafe report on musculoskeletal injuries (MSI) reveals Hume had the highest number of MSI claims – 4269 – of any municipality in the outer-west, with Wyndham (2934) and Hobsons Bay (2091) next in order.

The report reveals MSIs – which include slips, trips, falls and dangerous manual handling – make up Victoria’s leading employee compensation claim and cost the state almost $1 billion a year in compensation, wages and medical bills.

The report states that almost 70 per cent of workplace incidents happened in the manufacturing, construction, warehousing, health, transport, postal and administration industries.

“These are high-risk industries,” a WorkSafe spokeswoman said.

“Employers and employees must remember not to take any short cuts; they have to do whatever they can to reduce their safety risk.”

The 2006 Census data shows nearly half the Hume workforce is in manufacturing (28.1 per cent) and transport, post and warehousing industries (19.9 per cent).

LeadWest business and projects manager Craig Rowley said the west was over-represented due to its large number of labourers and machinery operators.

“This type of physical work has a lot more inherent danger than other type of work,” he said.

“The high levels of cultural and linguistic diversity in the region could create occupational health and safety misunderstandings because it takes more time and care in ensuring people recognise how to stay safe at work.”

WorkSafe health and safety executive director Ian Forsyth said MSI figures accounted for more than half of Victoria’s 29,000 serious injury claims annually.

“Every week we hear about footballers who suffer similar injuries which put them out of action for weeks or months,” he said.

“But when it happens to somebody who’s just gone to work, it becomes an invisible issue.”

WorkSafe safety operations general manager Lisa Sturzenegger said while the results did not represent an increase on injury rates from previous periods in the west, the number of claims remained steady.

“While there have been recent job losses we aren’t seeing injury rates coming down just yet.”