The Konekt Market Report 2016 analysed 156,000 Australian workers compensation cases on workplace injuries over the past 8 years. What they found is that the prevailing job insecurity plaguing our economy has discouraged timely reporting of workplace injuries. The average delay from injury to referral for rehabilitation was over six months.
Delay in reporting physical and psychological injuries has significant impact on timely and effective recovery and can lead to additional psycho-social injuries brought on by the fear of losing their job and financial strain. Couple this with the stigma associated with mental illness and we have a growing issue in the workplace and some serious work to do to break down these barriers. The key to quicker rehabilitation after a workplace injury is early referral and management.
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- 82% of initial referrals were for musculoskeletal disorders and injuries (e.g. fractures).
- 12% of initial referrals were for a mental health condition.
- The percentage of mental health claims has remained unchanged over the past eight years.
- The Construction sector had the highest number of reported fractures.
- The Public Administration and the Safety sectors had the highest number of referrals.
Increased Mental Health Claims
The study reported that there has been an increase in mental health conditions from within the public sector from 11% (2015) to 16% (2016). High-complexity cases were more likely to involve a mental health condition.
The longer the delay in referral, the greater the increase in extending to psycho-social injuries that can impact on the original injury and lead to more complex and lengthier rehabilitation times.
There is also an acknowledged association between psycho-social injuries and physical injuries. Whereby, psycho-social injuries can lead to a lack of focus on critical or high risk tasks. Any delay in reporting psycho-social injuries increases the risk of physical workplace injuries.