WorkCover has identified the unique characteristics of a number of major industries and has started working with employers and industry associations on strategies to improve outcomes on an industry wide basis. This has in part led to our new customer service model based on industry.

Building and construction

To complement our commitment to returning workers to work quickly and safely, this year we worked on a pilot program for the building and construction industry, focussing on suitable duties for workers. Working closely with key employer associations and unions in the industry, the pilot program aimed to develop suitable duties for sub-contractor employees injured on a principal contractor’s worksite.

In a combined effort with construction employer and employee associations, we engaged an occupational physician to develop a portfolio of suitable duties for specific industry jobs. The duties will be used by the principal contractor, the direct employer and the doctor to help get workers back into the workplace, on appropriate duties, as quickly as possible.

A large amount of data supports the fact that workers have a quicker and better recovery if they are able to remain active in the workplace (Realising the Health Benefits of Work, Australasian Faculty of Occupational & Environmental Medicine Position Statement). In line with this, we are committed to ensuring workers recover from their injuries and are quickly returned to a safe working environment.

Transport

The transport industry represents 4.8% of all statutory claims but 8.1% of all statutory claims costs, and has a higher proportion (7.4%) of common law claims. Claims in this industry tend to be of longer duration with less successful return to work outcomes. During the year, we worked closely with industry associations, including the Queensland Trucking Association, to help their members return to the workplace after an injury. We also continue to help deliver solutions to current industry issues, such as long haul driving injuries.

We were actively involved in many industry initiatives, including Workplace Health and Safety Queensland’s Transport Network Across Queensland Forum (held in Ipswich, Rockhampton, Mackay, Cairns and Brisbane). Along with Workplace Health and Safety Queensland and Q-COMP, we are also in the process of developing a tripartite plan to improve injury prevention across the transport industry.

Timber

During the year, we focussed on initiatives to help improve injury prevention and injury management within the timber industry. Working with Workplace Health and Safety Queensland and Q-COMP, in May 2011, we participated in a breakfast seminar and workshop, ‘Cut the cost + lift the load’, hosted by Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland with Timber Queensland and Timber and Building Materials Association Queensland. The event was aimed at industry professionals involved in the implementation of workplace health and safety and workers’ compensation changes in the workplace.

During the day-long event, we participated in a ‘questions and solutions’ panel discussion, presented information and were available for individual discussion with attendees during workshop breakouts.

Manufacturing

The majority of WorkCover claims come from workers in the manufacturing industry, with most injuries muscular skeletal in nature as a result of manual handling tasks. One strategy to address this imbalance has been WorkCover’s active endorsement and promotion of Workplace Health and Safety’s Participative Ergonomic for Manual Tasks Program (PErforM), developed by Workplace Health and Safety Queensland, University of Queensland and Curtin University of Technology. As a result of working with industry associations, a number of specifically tailored manufacturing workshop series have been created. These workshops focus on best practice safety management systems and workers' compensation claims management. In consultation with the Australian Industry Group, WorkCover also sponsored a series of workshops in December 2010 and June 2011, for small to medium businesses.

Labour hire

We’ve been working with labour hire employers and their association to help develop strategies for specific barriers, including return to work. In recent times, WorkCover has held forums with the Recruitment and Consulting Services Association in Queensland for representative employers in the labour hire industry. The purpose of these forums was to work together to identify ways to reduce claims and their associated costs in that industry. The labour hire industry’s claims cost as a percentage of wages is significantly higher than other industries including manufacturing, construction, transport, retail trade and education. During 2011–2012 we will continue to meet with labour hire employers, looking to develop and implement solutions for the identified problems.