Banner image depicting on person security devices

A 2017 study by the University of South Australia* found that 73% of physical injuries sustained at work in health care settings were reported compared to just 35% of psychological injuries despite a roughly equal incidence of both types of injury.

The study exposes an issue of both high level and detailed level under reporting that are likely existing problems across many sectors.

Under reporting means a robust evidence based application of targeted strategies to prevent and manage aggressive behaviours is unlikely.

Now is a natural time of the financial year to plan for improvements for the year ahead through reflection on the events of the year that is coming to a close. Budgets will be set and will likely include the allocation of Risk Management Funding (check with your workers’ compensation insurer regarding your eligibility).

Under reporting is a significant area of concern so I thought I’d highlight the likely issues and the potential quick wins in the year ahead for your organisation.

Is under reporting a reflection of your organisation’s safety culture?

Organisations should foster a safety culture in which all managers and staff are open to discussion, analysis and effective resolution of safety challenges. This starts with openly encouraging staff to report all incidents of aggression.

There are a lot of factors that contribute to under reporting. Some are relatively simple and others very complex. One that is high on the list is the time and effort it takes to complete existing incident reporting requirements.

At Holland Thomas we encourage the use of a 60 Second Incident Report Form. Reporting of the more frequent though usually smaller incidents that would otherwise go unreported can give you a wealth of information and can help organisations avoid a larger more serious incident.

Is under reporting concealing the true scale of your problem?

In addition to the significant impact on the injured worker, workers compensation claims have a major negative impact on the team and the organisation as a whole. Approximately 12% of workers compensation claims are the result of work-related violence**. One average workers compensation claim for work-related violence will cost approximately $40,000. One serious claim will cost upwards of $400,000.

Improved incident reporting can assist your organisation to better assess the type and scale of personal safety challenges facing your staff and service users.

Is under reporting reducing your opportunity to better manage the risks in your working environment?

Increased staff awareness of the environment in which they work and the potential behaviours they may face is key to managing aggressive behaviour.

As first responders to, or targets of, incidents involving aggressive behaviour your staff must be adequately equipped to prevent and manage aggressive behaviours.

With improved incident reporting staff will be able to identify potentially challenging situations earlier. Empowered as personal safety leaders, staff will then have greater opportunity to achieve a safe outcome for the benefit of all involved.

Are you using an evidence based approach?

Improved incident reporting will provide you with an evidence base regarding your application of strategies to prevent and manage aggressive behaviours.

This data will guide the evolution of suitable procedures and targeted training for your staff to appropriately manage their own personal safety and that of the people around them.

Are your staff reluctant to seek help for psychological injuries?

As with all injuries, early intervention and assistance for those with psychological injuries leads to better healing outcomes.

Unfortunately the statistics above clearly show many workers do not complete an incident report for incidents that do not involve a physical injury. This mindset adds to the reluctance to take advantage of employee assistance programs.

Organisations that encourage staff to report all physical and psychological injuries will have a happier workforce that is confident to take early and full advantage of the support services that are already in place.

What should be in your plan for the year ahead?

I hope the information I have shared helps you to reflect on how under reporting may be impacting your team and your organisation. Is there potential to make relatively small adjustments that can drive significant benefits in the year ahead? How can you help your staff positively / successfully manage the impact of aggressive behaviours?

 

Travis Holland is the Managing Director of Holland Thomas.

The team at Holland Thomas support organisations to manage the impact of aggressive behaviours towards their staff, the people they support, and the organisation itself.

Enjoyed this piece? Follow Travis on LinkedIn. If you liked what you read, please share, like, and comment.

Should you wish to discuss strategies to improve your staff’s safety in their work environment, please feel welcome to contact Holland Thomas.

Photo of Travis Holland

Travis Hol­land
Man­ag­ing Direc­tor
Hol­land Thomas
Travis Holland email address

*University of South Australia, Asia Pacific Centre for Work Health and Safety. Psychosocial safety climate from two different cultural perspectives in the Asia Pacific: Iran and Australia Hospitals.
** “Work-related violence means incidents in which a person is abused, threatened or assaulted in circumstances relating to their work. It includes verbal abuse, threats and physical attack.” WorkSafe Victoria.