WorkSafe is due to launch a proactive inspection program to explore the management of violence and aggression in residential aged care facilities. The program will continue for six months in both metropolitan and regional areas. It will focus on reducing employee’s musculoskeletal and psychological injuries due to workplace violence.
According to WorkSafe A/Director Sally North, inspectors would primarily look at how employers prevented and responded to aggressive incidents and injuries, and how they were dealt with on a long-term basis.
Over the past five years (2011 – 12 to 2015 – 16), violence and bullying accounted for nearly one third of all lost time injuries in WA residential aged care facilities. ‘An alarming 93 percent of the injuries in this category were classified as being assaulted by a person, so this program is very important’, said Ms. North.
‘Inspectors will proactively visit residential aged care facilities to assess the systems in place to prevent and manage incidents of violence and aggression,’ Ms. North said.
Earlier WorkSafe inspection programs in this area have highlighted to employers the need to implement proactive and long-term control strategies to address the risk of injury from violence and aggression.
Control strategies may include altering job design, educating carers and clients, promoting incident response and investigation and planning refurbishments or new builds to address client aggression risks.
While the most common injury to employees in residential aged care is soft tissue injury, the psychological impact of exposure to violence is harder to measure, especially where it is considered part of the job.
‘WA is a keen participant in the national Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012-2022, and the Health Care and Social Assistance sector is one of the key industries being targeted due to the high number of serious injuries resulting in 60 or more days off work, Ms. North said.
Further information on the management of aggression in residential aged care facilities inspection program can be obtained by telephoning WorkSafe on 1300 307877 or on the website at www.worksafe.wa.gov.au.