Electricity sector workers prone to back injuries

Australia’s electricity, gas, water and waste services sector has a high incidence of back injuries, but the return-to-work rates are among the highest, according to the latest report from organisational health group Konekt.

The report found musculoskeletal injuries are the most prevalent type of injury in the energy sector, with back injuries accounting for 17 per cent of all injuries. This compares with just 7 per cent for psychological injuries.

It’s a concern for the sector, as the average cost for an injured worker is $2328 – one of the highest rates in the Australian workforce.

On the other hand, energy sector workers are more likely to get back to their jobs quickly. The sector has the lowest average delay of referral time for treatment (29 weeks) and has a service (treatment) duration of only 19 weeks), which is one of the lowest rates when compared to other employment sectors.

There’s also a 92 per cent return-to-work probability, the second highest of all the industries covered in the Konekt Market Report.

Around three million Australians suffer from low back pain, and according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare $5.7 billion was spent on arthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions in 2008-2009, with
$1.18 billion of that specifically on back problems.

The report analysed 113,000 cases of workers compensation and non-compensable cases in a six-year period. Musculoskeletal injuries represented the largest workplace injury category, and back injuries accounted for almost one third.