Back injuries a major problem for Australian workers

Published 20 May 2015

Australian workers often find themselves up against a number of different health complaints, and it seems like back pain is one of the most prominent at the moment. The Konekt Market Report Volume 2 shows that while the number of cases has fallen over recent years, there has nevertheless been a rise in the amount of time it takes for patients to be referred for treatment.

In the 2008-09 financial year, Konekt reveals that back injuries accounted for 62 per cent of all referrals. By 2013-14, this figure had declined to 49 per cent. However, over the same time frame, the average delay between diagnosis and referral increased from 94 weeks to 108.

Within the category of musculoskeletal injuries, almost a third (31 per cent) of referrals were related to back pain. It has consequently been named the second-largest contributor to disability or disease burden in the entire country.

Some demographics were found to be more at risk of back injury than others. Men accounted for 65 per cent of cases, while those working for small or medium-sized businesses are also more prone. Meanwhile, those aged between 30 and 39 were most likely to suffer a back-related injury.

The greatest number of back injury referrals by industry was in the rental, hiring and real estate services sector with 21 per cent. This was followed by wholesale trade and agriculture, forestry and fishing, which accounted for 20 per cent of referrals.

Back problems are not just a problem for businesses, but the wider economy as a whole. Figures from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) show that in 2008-09, $1.2 billion of selected disease allocated health-care expenditure was dedicated to dealing with back injuries.

A large proportion (47.6 per cent) of this was a result of admitted patient costs, while 39.4 per cent accounted for costs incurred outside of hospital. The remainder related to the prescription medication needed to treat the problem.

Businesses that do not put the necessary safeguards in place to protect their workers against back-related injuries could find themselves at risk of total permanent disability claims. New South Wales was responsible for 39 per cent of all workers’ compensation referrals in the 2013 Konekt Market report, outstripping every other state and territory.

If you might be entitled to a TPD claim for back-related injury, make sure you get in touch. We work on a no win, no fee basis, so you can rest assured our team will always work in your best interests.

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