More than one-third of Australian companies are unaware of how much hand injuries are costing their business, according to a new report.

In Safe Hands: The State of Hand Protection in Australia 2016 is the first report on hand injuries in Australian workplaces.

The independent, industry-first research into hand injury rates, reporting and management practices in Australia highlighted that only 28 percent of employers track hand injury costs.

And 48 percent have only a partial picture of the full cost of hand injuries.

The research was undertaken in response to the Australian safety community’s need for benchmarking data about safety performance and best practices within the Australian Occupational Health and Safety (OHS)/ Work Health and Safety (WHS) industry.

The independent research company AMR carried out the survey in conjunction with the National Safety Council of Australia (NSCA) Foundation and Ansell.

A survey was carried out across 17 different industries. It included small employers of 24 people to organizations with more than 100 employees.

The objectives were to evaluate current safety practices and procedures, the measurement and rating of hand injuries, cost of hand injuries and a review of which best practices have been implemented.

AMR collected data over a period of five months and interviewed more than 200 members of the Australian safety community.

Key findings included:

·       73 percent of organizations indicated safety performance has improved year-on-year.

·       Safety leaders rated cultural initiatives as more useful or successful than technical or PPE improving safety performance,

·       75 percent of organizations measure lagging indicators such as LTI’s (complete day or shift time loss) and MTI’s (medical treatment injuries) and other lost time, while 73 percent measure leading indicators such as training hours and near hit reports,

·       93 percent of organizations reported injuries to hands, with cuts (64 percent) abrasion (44 percent and impact (42 percent) being the most common.

Responses clearly showed an ongoing debate between leading versus lagging indicators.

Many respondents pointed to time constraints, reduced resources and cost-cutting by management as the primary challenge in managing safety.

Commenting on the findings Jamie Burrage, NSCA Foundation General Manager said it was interesting to note the value placed on an effective safety culture and employee engagement through coaching and mentoring, rather than a top-down prescriptive approach to safety at work.

“Many respondents identified the emerging new practice of mentoring to influence behavioural change as less useful,” he said.

“There appears to be a conflict in how senior management views the effectiveness of mentoring compared to the view of other management levels and workers.

“Mental health is identified by some as the biggest challenge for the future workforce – there is a need to examine the circular nature of ever changing workplaces and fluid work culture to gauge the cause of mental health concerns at work. Employers may also need guidance in how to enhance the resilience of workers to manage these concerns.”

Ansell Marketing Manager, Dean Clark, said the report highlights the difficulty faced by safety leaders in building safety performance and compliance that meets their commercial obligations when they don’t have a complete picture of the cost of injuries.

“Comments from respondents show significant differences in the level of understanding about the true cost of injury to businesses,” said Mr Clark.

“When you consider the research was conducted across industries where safety is a key consideration, this shows a need for better education in addressing the costs of hand injuries by taking into account measuring costs of treatment, workers compensation, loss of productivity, re-training and insurance premiums.”

To view the report visit:

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