ACC tackling injuries in the construction industry

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Among New Zealand’s working age population and ahead of all other industries, the construction industry has the highest proportion of ACC claims and costs.
For the 2005/06 period, construction accounted for 11% of all workplace entitlement (moderate to serious) claims costs, at more than $29m.

The main types of injuries sustained in this industry are:
 soft tissue (sprain/strain) (49%),
 fracture/dislocation (14%) ,
 lacerations (11.6%),
 noise induced hearing loss (10.8 %),
 gradual process (3.8%), and
 hernia (3.4%) .

The back is the part of the body most often injured. Lifting, carrying and straining are common causes of injury, although falls, loss of balance, slips and trips also feature high on the list.
Although these claims are costly to ACC, therefore having a knock-on effect on the levy rates that builders pay, this is not the worst news. The large proportion of these claims are serious injury, which means that person and, therefore, their families, will be greatly affected by their loss of ability, as well as the loss of income.

The cost to an employer is also increased as it means retraining or replacement of workers, and possible legal costs.
ACC has been involved in the construction sector over the past few years, along with key strategic alliances such as the Registered Master Builders Federation, Certified Builders 

Association of New Zealand, Site Safe New Zealand and the Department of Labour (formally OSH) to work together to try and assist the industry to reduce the injury rate.
A number of initiatives have been developed to assist and encourage, particularly small business and self-employed, the development of a simple safety management system.
Through the Workplace Safety Discount (WSD) programme, small business owners can apply for a 10% discount on their levies if they can demonstrate an effective safety management system.

Having successfully taken part in this programme may also assist some businesses when tendering for various contracts, for example, with some local councils or principal contractors.
ACC, with the support of Site Safe and DoL, have been holding meetings around the country, some in the form of breakfast meetings or barbecues, in order to get residential construction industry workers together.

The aim is to discuss safety issues and possible fixes, as well as to receive other business-related information, such as the ACC discount programme, training programmes, employment obligations and changes to building legislation.

If you are interested in finding out more on how to obtain the discount, or if you are interested in attending a breakfast meeting in your area, please contact ACC programme manager Jennifer O’Loughlin on 09 915 8142 or 027 447 0451.

For information on WSD, you can also go to www.acc.co.nz/wsd or www.sitesafe.org.nz, the approved training provider for the discount programme.