Policy, procedures and documentation

Policies and procedures for hazardous manual tasks must be seen as realistic and achievable to be implemented as standard operations. However, workers may see current policies (such as 'no lift') as unrealistic given patient-care needs, and therefore may not be able to follow them. Self-audits of systems can be helpful in detecting these issues.

Workplaces may have plenty of good safety documentation (for hazard identification, incident reporting and so on), but this is sometimes used only superficially (for example, to meet minimum compliance requirements). The research found that this documentation can also be used as an improvement tool for identifying trends and developing targeted organisational strategies.

Workplace culture

Workplace culture and management attitude/behaviour have a major impact on the number of claims and on claimant's behaviour/response to body stressing injuries.

In some instances there is too much acceptance of the 'inevitability' of body stressing injuries, both by PCBUs and workers. This complacency can lead to PCBUs and workers paying only superficial attention to good safety practices.

Workforce factors

Factors that may contribute to the difficulty in managing body stressing injuries include the aging workforce; differing physical characteristics; and fitness for work.

Patient factors

The increase in obese patients/clients/residents with specialist needs presents challenges. The use of equipment (such as ceiling-mounted hoists) has been useful, but workers still need to be skilled and appropriately trained to deal with obese patients.

Another significant area of concern and risk raised in the research is the provision of services to patients/residents/clients with unpredictable behaviours associated with a wide range of conditions but notably dementia, anxiety disorders and drug or alcohol use.