Musculoskeletal disorder strategy 2017-2022

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Introduction

Introduction

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are one of the most common work related injuries and diseases in NSW, and can have long-term, costly impacts for businesses and workers.

An MSD is an injury to, or disease of, the body’s musculoskeletal system and includes sprains and strains of muscles, ligaments, tendons and joints. MSDs can result from gradual wear and tear and/or sudden damage to these parts of the body, and are commonly caused by hazardous manual tasks and slips, trips and falls.

When workers are required to perform a manual task, there are certain characteristics that make it hazardous. These are:

When workers are exposed to these characteristics of a hazardous manual task (risk factors), there is a greater risk of them getting a work related MSD.

There are physical, psychosocial and organisational causal factors in the workplace that may drive the presence and severity of risk factors for a hazardous manual task. It is recognised that these causal factors are interrelated and can impact upon each other.

Data shows that MSDs span across all industries and occupations. Hazardous manual tasks are the most common cause of injury, accounting for 29 per cent of workplace injuries in NSW(1).

By implementing this Musculoskeletal Disorder Strategy (the Strategy), SafeWork NSW intends to deliver on the Work Health and Safety Roadmap for NSW 2022 commitment to reduce serious musculoskeletal injuries and illnesses. NSW has met and exceeded the original target of a 30% reduction, and accordingly the Government have set a more ambitious target. By 2022, NSW aims to achieve a 50 per cent decline in the incidence rate of serious musculoskeletal injuries and illnesses.

MSD injuries and illnesses

Our target


2. This reduction will be measured against the baseline in the National Strategy. For serious musculoskeletal injuries and illnesses the baseline is the average of the relevant incidence rate for the three financial years 2009/10 to 2011/12.

3. Major musculoskeletal injury and disease claims 2013/14 to 2015/16, NSW Workers’ Compensation Claims data.

* Incidents resulting in one or more weeks off work. This decline is measured over ten years from 2012 to 2022.

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What does success look like?

What does success look like?

Description of success

NSW businesses embed a work health and safety landscape that addresses risks that lead to MSDs

NSW businesses use a systematic approach to eliminate and/or reduce exposure to MSD hazards and risk factors

NSW businesses, injured workers and health professionals work together to learn from MSD injuries and make improvements

Outcomes

MSD prevention is given priority in all work processes and decisions by:

  • leadership from the top
  • safe design of
    • systems of work
    • plant and structures
  • understanding the relationship between a person’s physical and psychological wellbeing and MSDs
  • ensuring worker capability for the task.

Businesses have capacity to effectively manage MSD hazards and risks by:

  • eliminating hazards at the planning and design stage
  • increasing the use of high level controls and reducing reliance on low level controls
  • ensuring MSD risk factors are considered in operational decision making including purchasing
  • ensuring effective systems for reporting and resolving MSD issues and risk factors
  • ensuring compliance with systems, control measures and legislation.

All parties work together to support injured workers to recover at work and learn from injury experiences by:

  • ensuring suitable work design by proactively managing MSD risk factors throughout the recovery at work process
  • applying learnings to improve work health and safety practices and integrate into safe design and systems across the workplace.
NSW businesses use consultation and communication as the foundation for the effective management of MSDs

The Work Health and Safety Roadmap for NSW 2022 aims to embed the health and safety landscape in NSW workplaces.

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Engagement and partnership approach

Engagement and partnership approach

SafeWork NSW approach to engaging and partnering with stakeholders for the delivery of the strategy

Customer focused approach

Research and learning

Support and apply research, learn from data, business interactions and translate evidence to practice

Ensure compliance

Enforce standards and regulations

Prioritise

Prioritise occupations, sectors and workplaces that are at greatest risk

Equip

Use innovative approaches to equip businesses and leaders with resources to drive effective management of MSDs

Educate

Provide advice on compliance and risk management of MSDs

Partners

Work with influencers to increase understanding of their role in preventing MSDs

The Strategy will run until 2022 and will be supported by an MSD Action Plan and ongoing engagement with an MSD Stakeholder Consultative Committee.

The Action Plan follows a risk-based approach. It identifies the industry sectors and occupations that have the highest number of serious MSDs each year and describes the actions SafeWork NSW will take to support these businesses. Reviewed annually, this plan provides a focused approach, allowing SafeWork NSW to be responsive to changes in industry sectors and occupations.

Sources

  1. State Insurance Regulatory Authority and SafeWork NSW, NSW Workers Compensation Statistical Bulletin 2013/14. Includes major claims only.  A major claim is one where the injury resulted in death, permanent disability, or temporary disability with at least one week of weekly benefit entitlement paid.
  2. This reduction will be measured against the baseline in the National Strategy. For serious musculoskeletal injuries and illnesses the baseline is the average of the relevant incidence rate for the three financial years 2009/10 to 2011/12.
  3. Major musculoskeletal injury and disease claims 2013/14 to 2015/16, NSW Workers’ Compensation Claims data.
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Action plan

Action plan

The MSD Strategy 2017-2022 aims to change attitudes, improve knowledge and behaviours around the way work-related MSDs are prevented and managed, whilst ensuring compliance with work health and safety legislative requirements.

This 2018–19 Musculoskeletal Disorder (MSD) Action Plan (the Action Plan) has been developed to support the delivery of the MSD Strategy 2017-2022.

This Action Plan follows a risk-based approach, identifying the industry sectors and occupations that have the highest number of serious MSDs each year and describes the actions SafeWork NSW will take to support these businesses.

Reviewed annually, this plan provides a targeted approach allowing SafeWork NSW to be responsive to changes in industry sectors and occupations. We are focusing on the industries and occupations most at risk, as well as engaging people who may influence a worker’s exposure to Hazardous Manual Tasks (HMT) and their Recovery at Work, including industry and workplace leaders, people responsible for purchasing, designers and engineers, allied health professionals and educators.

IndustriesOccupations
  • Health care and social assistance
  • Manufacturing
  • Nursing
  • Storepersons

In NSW, some of the highest rates of MSDs are found in the Health care and social assistance and Manufacturing industries, and workers within the occupations of nursing and storepersons. We will implement programs focused on these industries and occupations throughout 2018/19.

In addition to these focus industries and occupations, we will undertake work to support the delivery of the Industry action plans in Agriculture, Government, Construction and Transport as outlined in the Work Health and Safety Roadmap for NSW 2022.

SafeWork NSW MSD work plan for 2018/19
Programs
  • Industry-specific problem solving and co-design of solutions across high risk sectors continuing for distribution centres and commencing for manufacturing and health care and social assistance (specifically in patient handling)
  • Safety in purchasing
  • Statewide workshop program - Participative Ergonomics for Manual Tasks (PErforM)
  • Tailored PErforM workshops for focus industries
  • Inspector visit program focused on businesses at high risk of MSD
  • Due diligence for MSD leadership and reporting best practice
  • Good Work Design project (with psychosocial and health connections)
  • Early intervention of injuries in the work place education
Response activity
  • Responding to requests for service and incidents
  • Delivering requested presentations
  • Provision of advice to customers
  • Contribution to policy advice on state and national issues
Engagement
  • Ongoing facilitation of the MSD Consultative Committee
  • Working with identified industry sectors to help improve prevention of MSD; health care and social assistance, and manufacturing, agriculture, government, transport, construction
  • Engagement with MSD influential stakeholders through conference participation, working with universities and relationship development
  • Building of an online MSD LinkedIn community
  • Delivery of MSD Symposium on 8 and 9 November 2018
Communication
  • Provide an understanding of the relationship between MSDs, psychosocial and return to work factors’
  • Annual MSD achievements report– highlight the achievements for the previous year against the action plan, recently released claims data and activity and statistics
  • Supporting delivery of ‘At Risk’ workers program – delivery of relevant documents/communication in culturally appropriate language
  • Online support hub for PErforM implementation by businesses
  • MSD case study videos
Exemplar regulator
  • Internal capability building
  • National MSD Regulator Network
  • Data driven development of programs
  • NSW PErforM workshop program evaluation
  • Innovation: continue to work with universities (student experience program)
  • Continuation of MSD strategy and action plan evaluation
Research – Working with the Centre for Work Health and Safety
  • Research on patient handling in aged care
  • Potential further research opportunities that align with our current programs of work
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