How do we manage the risks and minimise costs?
If we review the judgments in the cases that have set the legal precedents we can see certain key factors that have infl uenced the judgment;
• Lack of appropriate procedures
Failure to provide the employees with information, instruction and training. Inadequate supervision
Traditionally we have looked to the risk assessment process as the key element in managing the risks of MSDs. In the “Fit for Work” report by The Work Foundation, emphasis was placed on the need for eff ective rehabilitation programmes. These managed return to work programmes have been established in the USA for many years and have been shown to benefi t both employees and businesses. This element of the report was welcomed by the TUC General Secretary, Brendan Barber.
The value to the employee is that they come back to the work environment more quickly, albeit on diff erent duties. Long-term absence has been shown to be demotivating for employees and to have a worker back in productive activity is of obvious benefi t to both the business and society as a whole. A study by Collins JW, Wolf L, Bell J and Evanoff B at University of York, into an ‘Evaluation of a “best practices” musculoskeletal injury prevention programme in nursing homes” addressed the eff ectiveness of interventions in minimising injuries that result from handling physically dependent patients in the US.
The authors carried out a cost benefi t analysis of the interventions, which were based on a policy of no lifting of patients. The research considered a best practice programme, which was implemented in 1998 and looked at workers compensation data, OSHA 200 logs and employee injury reports, in the three-year pre-intervention period and the 3-year post-intervention period.
On the basis of the workers compensation claims there was a reduction in injury rate from 14% to 5.9%, while using the data from the OSHA 200 log (statutory recordable incidents) the reduction was from 13.4% to 5.9% and on the basis of the initial injury reports the reduction was from 23.7% to 14.1%. In terms of the fi nancial benefi t, workers compensation claims were $441,670 in the pre- intervention period and $277,060 in the post- intervention period. To achieve this reduction there had been a capital investment of $143,556 and investment in training of $15,000. On this basis, the programme paid for itself in slightly under three years.
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