National campaign looks at new and young workers in hospitals

28 April, 2009

Workplace safety authorities across Australia are joining forces in an effort to reduce work-related injuries in hospitals related to aggression.

WorkSafe WA Commissioner Nina Lyhne has that the national campaign aimed to reduce injury rates that resulted from aggression in emergency departments, other clinical areas and other hospital-based services.

The three-month national campaign will look at aggression management systems and examine how well existing controls are working.

Lyhne said work-related injuries in hospitals arising from aggression were a continuing area of concern.

“There are close to eleven injuries each month to workers in WA hospitals related to aggression,” Lyhne said.

“In 2006/07 there were 80 injuries of this type in WA, and more than quarter of them were serious enough to result in the workers involved having to take more than 60 days off work.

“The national figures are also quite alarming, showing that there were 2120 worker’s compensation claims for work-related assaults during 2005/06.

“A large number of these assaults took place in hospitals – in fact, almost nine per cent of assault claims came from hospitals.

“The objective of this national campaign is to identify the risks associated with aggression in hospitals and to assist employers to find solutions that will lessen the risk of injury.”

The campaign will run from this month until June, with around 160 hospitals being visited across Australia.  The industry will be given feedback on the results of the campaign.

Approximately 30 hospitals will be visited in metropolitan and regional areas of WA.

All inspections across Australia will be conducted with the aid of one checklist to ensure consistency.

Some of the areas that will be looked at are:

  • Aggression management policies;
  • Training of employees in how to deal with aggression; and
  • Workplace design issues.
Although the campaign’s primary objective is to provide employers with information on how to comply with the laws, inspectors will take enforcement action if they find breaches.

Lyhne said that national campaigns were an important means of ensuring national consistency in workplace safety and health.

“These campaigns are aimed at protecting workers by ensuring employers are aware of their responsibility under the laws to minimise the risk of injury,” she said.

“They are also excellent examples of cooperation between the States.

“In the end, everybody gains from a higher level of awareness of workplace hazards and how to avoid injuries, particularly those related to aggression.

“Western Australia has a comprehensive Code of Practice on Violence, Aggression and Bullying at Work, and I encourage all workplaces that may have concerns about these hazards to have a copy of the code readily available at the workplace.”

Further information on workplace aggression can be obtained by telephoning WorkSafe on 9327 8777 or on the website at  Copies of the Code of Practice on Violence, Aggression and Bullying at Work can be purchased for $3.30 per copy or downloaded at no charge from the website.