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Source: Massey University

The Hawke’s Bay region has been selected as a pilot site due to its high work-related claims history and the fact that agriculture accounts for 14 per cent of all those employed in the region.

Associate Professor Ian Laird.

Massey University researchers have been awarded $850,000 from the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) as part of a workplace injury prevention grants programme.

Associate Professor Ian Laird will lead the study, The Hawke’s Bay Sprain and Strains Surveillance, Management and Prevention Programme, a partnership between Massey University and the Hastings Health Centre.

The study aims to estimate the extent of sprains and strains in the region, and assess workplaces to identify where there are opportunities for better prevention.

ACC claims for sprains and strains have increased by 30 per cent over the past five years. In comparison, other types of injuries have increased by six per cent. Around one third of all sprains and strains claims are for back injuries, but shoulder and arm injuries are increasing at a faster rate than other sprain and strain injuries. Injuries to the back and upper body are the most likely body sites to become higher cost.

“We are planning to tackle sprains and strains in the agriculture industry by utilising Prevention through Design (PtD), which encourages construction or product designers to ‘design out’ health and safety risks early in the lifecycle of materials and processes,” Dr Laird says.

“A need exists for a change to current approaches to strains and strains prevention, to manage and prevent this significant and persistent injury problem in New Zealand workplaces more effectively,” he adds.

The Hawke’s Bay region has been selected as a pilot site due to its high work-related claims history and the fact that agriculture accounts for 14 per cent of all those employed in the region.

Dr Laird says the focus will be on preventing sprains and strains to the upper body – the neck, shoulder, arms, wrists and hands.

Other members of the research team include Professor Barry Borman from the Environmental Health Indicators team; Associate Professor Rod Adank from the School of Design; Liz Ashby from the School of Health Sciences and Dr Justine McIntyre from the Hastings Health Centre.

In 2020, there were 22,796 farm-related injury ACC claims accepted, at a cost of $84 million to help people recover. ACC spent more than $833 million on farm-related injuries in the past five years, with the cost in 2020 the highest from this period.

ACC is investing $22 million over five years for workplace injury prevention grants, aimed at influencing change in health and safety. Four organisations were awarded grants in this funding round, totalling $2.9 million.

MIL OSI