Prevent pain and injury
As an employer, you must protect your workers from harm. This means addressing all the factors present in your workplace that can lead to discomfort, pain or injury.
Individual injury types and the level of everyday workplace risk are largely dependent on industry, but injuries can occur in almost every workplace – from gradual injuries over time to sudden accidents. Both are equally debilitating for employees and have significant impact on your business.
Mitigating the risk of pain and injury and managing employees with existing injuries increases productivity and staff morale, while reducing injury-related costs.
On this page:
- What is the impact of injuries?
- What are my responsibilities?
- What can I do to prevent injuries?
- ACC resources
Injuries can impact your business in many ways, from losing your most highly skilled staff to the psychological effects on employees. Both can affect the success of your business.
James is an apprentice builder and works on busy building sites. One day, he trips and falls over, spraining his ankle. His doctor recommends at least three days off work and arranges physiotherapy for James. This means James needs to take additional time off work over the next three weeks to visit the physiotherapist and for follow-up consultations with his doctor. James feels frustrated that he can’t complete all his usual tasks while he’s healing.
Having workers on sick leave and hiring new employees can be expensive and time consuming for managers and other staff.
Do you know the real cost of an injury? Use the Injury cost calculator to work out the true cost of injuries to workers. Use this link to order the Injury cost calculator on CD-ROM.
Apart from the stress caused by not being able to do their job properly, discomfort, pain and injury can also have much larger social costs.
It’s difficult to measure the cost of not being able to pick up your children, take part in sports, or even sit comfortably to watch television or talk to friends.
Under the Health and Safety in Employment Act (1992), you are legally required to make sure people are not hurt in your workplace. If you don’t manage health and safety properly, you’re responsible if a worker or visitor gets hurt. You could be taken to court, prosecuted and fined. This would take up a lot of your time, attract negative publicity and cost you a lot of money (in legal fees, fines and lost productivity).
The Act requires all business owners to make sure their workers have a safe place of work and that no visitors are harmed in the workplace. Employers have to do this by taking all practicable or reasonable measures to ensure their own safety and the safety of others in the workplace.
This means you must:
- Eliminate. Remove the hazard if practicable, or try to mitigate risk. If you cannot eliminate risk practicably, you must isolate.
- Isolate. Make sure you keep people away from the hazard if practicable. If you cannot isolate risk practicably, you must minimise.
- Minimise. Take steps to reduce the chance of someone being hurt and remember that when you minimise a hazard you must then monitor the effectiveness of your solution.
David employs two shop assistants in his retail business. Part of the role includes unloading boxes and carrying stock onto the shop floor. David notices the floor in the stock room is slippery and could cause one of his staff to fall over, causing a broken bone or sprain.
He weighs up his options to deal with the problem:
- Install and maintain a non-slip surface on the floor (eliminate the hazard).
- Fence off the slippery area to instruct staff to stay away from it (isolate the hazard).
- Provide staff with non-slip boots (minimise the hazard) and check to see if the boots are effective.
He decides the best way to deal with the problem is to install a non-slip surface on the floor and remind staff of the correct way of lifting boxes.
Remember, everyone has a role to play in preventing and reducing injuries in the workplace.
ACC has developed a number of tools to help employers, employees and health and safety consultants manage discomfort, pain and injury. ACC has developed a free-to-use guide specifically for small businesses that outlines your responsibilities and provides some practical tips to reduce risk. This is a great resource for finding out more.
This educational tool is available in Office and Industrial versions. It is for employers, employees, and health and safety consultants to learn how to prevent and manage discomfort, pain and injury.
- Work smart tips
Use this tool to create specific, customised health and safety information for your workplace, employees, and colleagues.
- Discomfort, pain and injury training
Register your interest in the Preventing and Managing Discomfort, Pain and Injury Programme.
How to implement safer workplace practices:
- ACC366 How to implement safer workplace practices (PDF 1.3M)
An introduction to ACC’s comprehensive health and safety system to help prevent workplace injuries.
- ACC4487 How to implement safer workplace practices (PDF 966K)
Incorporates ACC4440-4445 Summary flowcharts.
These provide an overview of the ACC366 content mentioned above. Use the flowcharts to do a gap analysis of your workplace’s health and safety system.
More publications that can be downloaded or ordered from the ACC publications page:
- ACC5832 Emergency and incident investigation (PDF 3.1M)
- ACC5833 How to manage hazards (PDF2M)
- ACC5837 Improving workplace health and safety (PDF 2.2M)
- ACC5838 Training and supervision (PDF 2.3M)
- ACC4829 HabitAtWork workbook – Office version (PDF 1.7M)
- ACC4830 HabitAtWork workbook – Industrial version (PDF 2.2M)
- ACC1631 Pain screening questionnaire (PDF 169K)
An online or paper-based self-administered assessment for people with ongoing and unresolved pain problems.
Forms and checklists:
- Contributory factors checklist (PDF 63K)
A checklist to help assess the contributory factors surrounding problems, incidents and hazards.
- Help yourself prevent and manage discomfort, pain and injury (PDF 56K)
Self-management advice for people experiencing discomfort, pain and injury.
- Workplace referral to health provider (PDF 49K)
A tool to help employers formally refer workers to, and communicate with, health professionals involved with their workers.