Central West Health & Rehabilitation
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Where should we target strategies to reduce work-related musculoskeletal disorders? Dec 29th, 2014
Accurate identification of all relevant hazards is the first step in effective workplace risk management of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs). Given the huge variation in operational demands both between and within different industry sectors and their respective organisations, appropriate targeting of strategies requires careful consideration. Generic risk management strategies may not be appropriate given these large differences.

No single or multi-dimensional strategy is generally effective across occupational settings. Therefore a degree of customisation is required for maximum effectiveness.

Both physical and nonphysical work environments should be assessed so that interventions specific to individual workplaces can be developed which in turn can lead to more definitive conclusions about changes being reached.

The relative contribution of physical and psychosocial hazards to worksite MSD development may vary between different jobs, gender and age. Even in work considered as predominately physical in nature, psychosocial factors have been associated with MSD risk.

The relative importance of particular hazards will be defined by the nature of the work, as well as the physical and cognitive demands placed on individuals. Importance will also vary greatly across different organisations and sectors. In addition, the organisational and sociotechnical context in which the organisation is operating will influence a range of workplace demands including job security, deadlines and working hours, all of which have been linked to WMSD development.

Next- Where should risk management strategies be targeted?

Where should risk management strategies be targeted? Dec 29th, 2014
The conventional approach to OHS risk management has been to focus on hazard management – identifying hazards, assessing risk from each identified hazard, and taking any necessary steps to control risk from each hazard separately.

However effective risk management for MSD needs to accurately identify, assess and control the most relevant worksite risk factors for a particular job. To determine what these risk factors are a participative systems approach is needed using hazard surveillance evidence collected from employees within a particular job.


Target Job Levels

The following study showed risk management strategies need to be targeted at the ‘job level’ if they are to be maximally effective (i.e. target specific job task and roles, rather than specific organisations or employment sectors).

Risk mitigation should be aimed at individual jobs to ensure maximum effectiveness in reducing MSD risk. This does not suggest that organisational influences are not critically important. In a systems approach, the influences from an organisational level play a vital role in determining a range of factors directly related to job design including safety, efficiency and effectiveness.

Be Job specific, not Task Specific

Another important distinction is the need for a job rather than a task focus, which is currently employed by many ergonomists and safety personnel. Whilst tasks were not directly examined in the current study, the problem with a focus on examining specific tasks is it fails to take account of the range of activities and demands placed on an individual. By evaluating tasks it is likely that important interactions will be not be accounted for.

The potential for interactions between hazards means that risk assessment on a hazard-by-hazard basis can be unreliable, because the effect on WMSD risk of a particular observed hazard level is likely to depend on the type and severity of other hazards experienced, that is, the combination of tasks may increase the risk of developing a WMSD.

Next- What are the Minimum Requirements

Australian Workers’ Compensation Statistics, 2012–13 Dec 21st, 2014


The above report provides a summary of Australian workers’ compensation statistics for the 2012–13 financial year, including trends over time and an overview of time lost and compensation paid. A serious claim is a workers’ compensation claim for an incapacity that results in a total absence from work of one working week or more.

Preliminary data show there were 117 815 serious workers’ compensation claims in 2012–13, which equates to 11.1 claims per 1000 employees and 6.7 claims per million hours worked.

Injuries & musculoskeletal disorders led to 90% of serious claims in 2012–13 and the most common type was Traumatic joint/ligament & muscle/tendon injury (45%). Diseases led to 10% of serious claims and the most common type was Mental disorders (6%).

Muscular stress while lifting or handling objects caused 33% of serious claims in 2012–13p, while falls, trips & slips of a person caused 22% of serious claims. The back was the location on the body most often injured, accounting for 22% of all serious claims in 2012–13p. Other common locations were the hand, fingers & thumb (13%), shoulder (10%) and knee (9%).

Employees working as Labourers had the highest incidence rate of serious claims of all occupations in 2012–13: 27.0 serious claims per 1000 employees, more than twice the national rate. Machinery operators & drivers made 24.4 serious claims per 1000 employees. Older workers have higher median time lost from work and higher median compensation paid for their serious claims than younger workers.

Infographic - Australian Workers’ Compensation Statistics, 2012–13 Dec 21st, 2014

Obesity by Occupation - USA Dec 19th, 2014

Christmas Hours Dec 10th, 2014

Image - Psychological Injury Nov 27th, 2014

Presumption 3: methods and tools for the assessment and management of psycho social risks are not available. Nov 25th, 2014
Survey’s of various Employers, disappointingly have found that only a minority of enterprises inform their employees on psychosocial risks, let alone take appropriate actions to tackle them.

Lack of awareness, lack of resources, and lack of technical support, guidance and expertise were key needs in this area that were identified irrespective of enterprise size, sector or country.

An interesting recent development in this area is the launch of two standards.

The first was launched by the British Standards Institution in 2011 and it is the first national guidance standard on the management of psychosocial risks in the workplace.

The second was launched as a national standard on psychological health and safety in the workplace in Canada in 2013.

Is psychosocial risk prevention possible?

The ultimate question is about the risks each of us is willing to take – as an employee, manager, policy maker, individual. The answer will depend on the context each of us finds ourselves in, associated pressures, needs, and values.

A policy maker might be clear on the available evidence on the impact of psychosocial risks but might choose to focus policies on reaction and not prevention because of economic and/or political pressures.

A line manager might understand that putting more pressure on her employees will challenge their well-being, but might choose to go ahead with the plan of meeting additional targets to satisfy her superiors and contribute to the company’s survival.

An employee might realize that working 60 h per week will make them ill and limit the time spent with his family but might choose to do so to have an income in a country with high unemployment.

In all these cases, each individuals decision can be justified although, on the basis of available knowledge, each situation will not be sustainable and will perpetuate problems at different levels.

Return to Work for Psychosocial claims

Start RTW immediately with Psycho social claims. Nov 25th, 2014
It is no secret workplace psychological injuries represent a huge burden both on the individual and their family as well and workers’ compensation schemes and society generally. Comcare reported in the 4 years to June 2010 10% of claims were attributed to ‘mental stress’ and these amounted to 35% of total claims costs.

As a result between 2007 and 2010, there were more than 17,000 ‘mental disorder’ claims at an average cost of $19,600 per claim.

Liability or Return to Work.  You Can Do Both

The huge impact and potential for exacerbation with a psychological injury leads to a focus on the liability issues at the expense of managing the employee. The patient is often left to sit at home pending the investigations and not surprisingly this does little to soothe the waters.

Most workplace psychological injuries do not happen overnight but in fact can fester for some time with employees typically showing signs like erratic behaviour, disengagement and withdrawal, more unplanned absence, increased workplace conflict and deterioration in work performance.  Consequently by the time a claim is made the worker is likely highly susceptible to what happens next.

The question of course is do they have a valid claim that needs to be addressed as per the appropriate channels but nonetheless you still have an employee with rights under the Fair Work Act (e.g. you cannot just sack them) you need to manage.

Stay At Work Should Be The Focus

There is lots of information about the Health Benefits of Work.  Safe Work Australia also supports the Stay at Work position for mental ill health as outlined in their Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012-2022; and that is what you need to discuss with the Treating Doctor.

At times you should involve a Workplace Rehabilitation Provider sooner rather than later. Rehabilitation Consultants, as a party external to the company, brings impartiality to the table and is also skilled in complex case management.

The Right Support Is Necessary

In the event of a workplace psychological injury there is no easy or one size fits all solution and an open and sensitive approach is necessary to understand the issues for the injured worker along with those of the employer.  It is important to establish communication and commence the return to work discussion. 

With the right support time off with a psychological injury need not be seen as standard or essential practice and your challenge is to make that happen.


Court Rules on Age Discrimination Case! Nov 24th, 2014
On the 8th of April 2014, the Federal Circuit Court in Brisbane ruled on the Fair Work Ombudsman's first litigation relating to discrimination on the grounds of age.

The 65-year-old employee began working for his employer in late 1996. His duties included taking orders, serving dishes and water, setting tables and greeting and assisting customers when asked to by the manager.

The employee took long service leave in April, 2011. When he was due to return to work, his employer told him that he would work part-time.

The employee subsequently met with his employer and raised questions about a number of issues, including his pay, later putting his concerns in writing. Shortly after, he received a letter drafted by the company's accountant informing him of the company's plans to terminate his employment on his 65th birthday. The accountant who drafted the letter had no workplace relations experience or training.

The letter stated that it was "the policy of the company that we do not employ any staff that attains the retirement age, which in your case is 65 years".

In his written response to the company, the employee stated that the termination of his employment was "irrefutably an act of blatant discrimination".

"It must be pointed out, my effectiveness as a food and beverage attendant when I turn 65 is no less than my effectiveness at the age of 64," he said.

After the company reaffirmed its position and advised the employee it did not wish to enter into further correspondence with him, the employee lodged a complaint with the Fair Work Ombudsman.

The Fair Work Ombudsman placed the matter before the Court. Following a subsequent investigation and litigation, the employer was penalised a total of $29,150 for contraventions of age discrimination and record-keeping laws.

  1. The company was fined $20,790

  2. Its joint directors and equal shareholders, were also penalised a further $4180 each.

  3. Judge Michael Burnett also instructed the employer to pay $10,000 compensation to the former employee.

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James says discrimination against employees on the grounds of age is unlawful and the outcome of the case serves as a warning to employers that it won't be tolerated.

"Limiting employment opportunities of workers because of their age is totally unacceptable and we take such conduct very seriously because of the impact it has on individual workers and the labour market generally," Ms James said.

Under the Fair Work Act, it is unlawful to discriminate against employees on the grounds of pregnancy, race, colour, sex, sexual preference, age, physical or mental disability, marital status, family or carer responsibilities, religion, political opinion, national extraction or social origin.

How Common

Since 2009, the Fair Work Ombudsman has received more than 80 complaints relating to age discrimination, making it among the top-five types of discrimination investigated by the Agency.

The majority of age discrimination complaints come from mature-age workers, with workers aged as young as their 40s having complained they have been discriminated against because of their mature age.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has received age discrimination complaints from mature-age workers in a range industries, with the accommodation and food, health care and social assistance, and retail industries prominent.

When you can lawfully discriminate based on age

Reference: http://www.fairwork.gov.au/About-us/news-and-media-releases/2014-media-releases/April-2014/20140407-theravanish-penalty

When you can lawfully discriminate based on age? Nov 24th, 2014
While an employer is unable to discriminate against a person based on their age, work health and safety laws in Australia and other jurisdictions also require employers to provide a "safe system of work". For example, section 19 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 states that the "primary duty of care" is to "ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers" by, among other things, "provision and maintenance of safe systems of work".

Therefore, if an employee cannot fulfil the inherent requirements of a job due to age related physical or mental change, an employer is ‘obligated’ to, for lack of a better word, discriminate based on age.

To ensure that such discrimination is lawful, you must:

  1. be sure that the person cannot perform the essential tasks of the job; and

  2. determine that any inability to perform the essential tasks of the job is due to the person’s age , i.e. not because they lack training, qualifications or experience.

Pre-employment physical assessments provide vital information for such decisions, and will find more and more value as our workforce gradually ages over the coming 2-3 decades.

Controlling the incidence of work-related injuries is economically important and important for the individual employee. Injuries occurring on the job can result in life-altering consequences to workers who depend on their physical well being for their livelihood.

Only 2% of individuals with back injuries who have been off work for more than 2 years will ever return to gainful employment. The loss of the ability to work can have a devastating consequence on not only the injured individual but also his or her entire family.

We have significant experience providing and designing pre-employment physical assessments. Contact us for more.

Presumption 2: the case for prioritization and management of psychosocial risks is not clearly defined Nov 18th, 2014
Several studies have shown the impact of psychosocial risks, work-related stress, bullying and harassment on individual health, safety and well-being, organizational performance, and societal health and prosperity. Studies document elevated odds ratios of fatal or non-fatal cardiovascular events amongst those reporting job strain, effort-reward imbalance or organizational injustice. Overall, risks are at least 50% higher amongst those suffering from stress at work compared in comparison to those who are not.

In addition, the majority of cardiovascular risk factors can be linked to adverse psychosocial work environments in terms of job strain and effort-reward imbalance. In particular metabolic syndrome, type II diabetes, hypertension, obesity, health-adverse behaviours and markers of dysregulated autonomic nervous and endocrine system activity.

Other studies have shown the direct and indirect effect of a poor psychosocial work environment on absenteeism, productivity, job satisfaction, and intention to quit. A reduction in physical and psychological health through the experience of stress can cause suboptimal performance that may lead to accidents and to other quality problems and reduced productivity, thereby augmenting operational risks. In addition, studies have suggested that between 50% and 60% of all lost working days have some link with work-related stress.

Clearly there is a data making the ‘economic’ case for psychosocial risk management. Astonishingly, there still appears to be resistance from businesses to prioritize it. This may be partly attributable to the way psychosocial risk management is understood; that is, as an approach to alleviate negative outcomes but not necessarily one to capitalize on opportunities and resources for prevention. This perception might stem from the approach employed by some key stakeholders to take a ‘reactive’ approach to dealing with psychosocial risks rather than providing some resources to proactive preventative strategies.

Businesses deal with risk and risk management routinely. Risk management is used from the development of business strategy to the execution of daily operations. However, psychosocial risk management concerns work organization, design and management. It must be embedded in business operations and not viewed as an add-on. Such a conceptualization of psychosocial risk management would also reduce resistance and stigmatization in dealing with mental health in the workplace and promote well-being and performance.

Presumption 3: Assessment and management of psychosocial risks 


Results - Midwest Football Academy Nov 18th, 2014

Click image to download table of test results


20m Sprint


Excellent          <2.95

Good               2.95-3.04

Average          3.05-3.20

Below Average >3.20





Excellent          <11:00

Good               11:00-11:30

Average          11:30-12:30

Below Average >12:30


Vertical Jump


Excellent           >70

Very Good         61-70  

Above Ave        51-60     

Average            41-50

Below Average <40



Is psychosocial risk prevention possible? Nov 18th, 2014
Although the prevalence and impact of psychosocial risks is now widely acknowledged as a priority in health and safety, there remains resistance by key stakeholders in prioritizing psychosocial risk management both in business and policy making. Psychosocial risks are still considered by some stakeholders difficult to address in a preventative fashion.

The following paper explores why this is still the case by discussing three presumptions in relation to the current state of evidence in this area.


Presumption 1: there is no clear definition and understanding of psychosocial risks by key stakeholders and businesses.

Psychosocial hazards are aspects of work organization, design and management that have the potential to cause harm on individual health and safety as well as other adverse organizational outcomes such as sickness absence, reduced productivity or human error. They include several issues such as work demands, the availability of organizational support, rewards, and interpersonal relationships, including issues such as harassment and bullying in the workplace.  The types of issues employers are asked to consider include workload, work schedules, role clarity, communication, rewards, teamwork, problem-solving, and relationships at work.

Can any business flourish without effectively managing these issues? And if there is clear evidence that not managing these issues effectively can lead to poor employee health, presenteeism, absenteeism, human error and reduced productivity why is there resistance when it comes to health and safety legislation in this area?

Perhaps difficulties in understanding arise from the ‘traditional’ perspective in health and safety, based on risk management. Businesses deal with ‘risk’ and ‘risk management’ routinely in areas such as finance, strategy, and operations (among others). As such, the principles of risk management, which are based on being proactive, are not at all foreign to them. However, the same cannot be claimed for other key stakeholders involved in psychosocial risk management, such as occupational health services.

Experts working in occupational health services traditionally have a ‘reactive’ perspective to psychosocial illness, supporting individuals and organizations deal with problems they experience, and not designing a work environment that will prevent them from occurring. The approach employed to deal with psychosocial risks is very much focused on ‘mending harm’ and not sufficiently on prevention through managing risks.

Psychosocial risk management should not be approached solely through a health and safety perspective (and not solely from a human resource management perspective either since this often lacks prioritization) but from a strategic perspective both at organizational and at policy level.

Presumption 2: Prioritization and Management 

10 tips for managing shift work Nov 11th, 2014
Shift work can have negative effects on a person’s health. For instance, working at night and sleeping during the day can disrupt the body’s natural circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms are the body’s natural cycles that control a person’s appetite, sleep, mood and energy level.

Interfering with a person’s circadian rhythms can result in:

- stress;

- fatigue;

- depression;

- headaches;

- high blood pressure; and

- an increased risk of developing stomach ulcers and heart disease.


Shift work also has organisational risks. Workers are at their least competent and watchful at the end of a shift. Fatigued workers are more likely to make mistakes and to have poor concentration and response times. Workers at the end of a long shift who are responsible for part of a worksite might:

- leave the workplace in an untidy and dangerous way;

- fail to conduct proper handover for the next worker about to begin their shift;

- neglect to properly carry out a safety process; and

- fail to identify safety risks for themselves and other workers.


10 tips for managing shift work

Follow these 10 tips to effectively manage shift workers:

  1. Ensure that a worker’s work cycle includes no more than six consecutive 8-hour shifts or four consecutive 12-hour shifts.

  2. Keep night work to a minimum. Workers should be given as few night shifts in a row as possible.

  3. Make shifts shorter when the work is particularly hazardous or exhausting.

  4. Ensure that workers who work 12-hour shifts or night shifts do not regularly work overtime.

  5. Ensure that workers rarely work more than 7 days in a row.

  6. If possible, keep workers’ shift cycles consistent.

  7. Give adequate notice of roster changes.

  8. Ensure that workers have sufficient breaks during their shifts, particularly for those working long shifts and undertaking high-risk work.

  9. Give workers adequate time between the end of one shift and the start of another to rest and recuperate.

  10. Have a handover policy in place to ensure effective handover for the next worker.

Workers who exercise lower health risks, cost less Oct 28th, 2014
Burton, Chen, Li, Schultz, Alyssa and Abrahamsson (2014) The Association of Self-Reported Employee Physical Activity With Metabolic Syndrome, Health Care Costs, Absenteeism, and Presenteeism. Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine. Volume 56(9):919–926

This study looked at the impact of exercise on 4,345 employees in a financial services company. Roughly 30 percent of employees were high risk and suffering from metabolic syndrome, a dangerous cluster of risk factors associated with diabetes and heart disease.

The study found that when the high-risk employees accumulated the government-recommended 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week, their health care costs and productivity equalled that of healthy employees who didn't exercise enough.

We can't control our family history and some health indicators such as cholesterol can be difficult to manage, but if individuals get enough exercise, the negative impacts of metabolic syndrome could be mitigated.

Employees with metabolic syndrome who exercised enough cost $2,770 in total health care annually, compared to $3,855 for workers with metabolic syndrome who didn't exercise enough.

With a bit of imagination, employers can develop and implement low cost interventions and programs that make it easy for workers to exercise on the job. Some examples include walking groups, signs reminding employees to take the stairs rather than the elevator, or developing and distributing maps of walking routes that fit into a lunch hour.

Central West Health and Rehabilitation has programs to assist this process, including services for remote workforces. Contact Us for more



Productivity measures in employees with and without Metabolic Syndrome and with and without sufficient physical activity Oct 28th, 2014

Health care cost measures in measures in employees with and without Metabolic Sydrome and with and without sufficient physical activity Oct 28th, 2014

Infographic- Burn more calories walking Oct 17th, 2014

Predicting time on prolonged benefits for injured workers with acute back pain Oct 16th, 2014
Work disability due to back pain (BP) is a multidimensional problem associated with high compensation and treatment costs. Costs associated with productivity losses due to BP (indirect costs) are estimated to be 85 % of total costs in the general population and even higher in work related BP.

Workers who are at low risk for chronic disability will most likely return to work (RTW) with limited assistance. Those at high risk for chronic disability may benefit from tailored interventions. If so, the burden of BP could be reduced through the early identification of those at high risk of chronic disability and delayed RTW.

Most of the existing literature relies on information gathered from injured workers, which is often limited to clinical factors. However, work-related BP is a multidimensional problem; therefore, predictive factors should be collected from several key actors [workplace partners, health-care providers (HCPs), injured workers, insurers] to capture the complex interactions that influence outcomes.


The following factors were predictive of a longer time on benefits:

  1. older age,

  2. greater physical demands in the workplace,

  3. employer doubt regarding the work-relatedness of the back injury,

  4. receiving a prescription for opioids during the first 4 weeks of the claim.

The following factors were predictive of a shorter time on disability benefits:

  1. union membership,

  2. availability of an early RTW program,

  3. positive recovery expectations on the part of health-care providers,

  4. being entered in a work rehabilitation program, and

  5. communication of functional ability to RTW


High risk individuals can be selected within the first 4 weeks following acute low back pain.

Early RTW planning and strong communication between the employer, and a trusted health care team improves outcomes.

What should you do if a worker claims their work is unsafe to perform? Oct 15th, 2014
A worker who refuses to perform work because of genuine safety concerns cannot be liable for industrial action.

If a worker complains of a safety risk in the work they perform, undertake the following steps:

  1. Ask the worker to identify the hazard and the risk it poses;

  2. Control the risk by eliminating the hazard or implementing risk controls; and

  3. Ensure workers are fully trained in the new work procedures.

If the hazard can’t be controlled, stop the process if possible and consider what alternative safe work you can offer workers.

If a union threatens industrial action in relation to a health and safety concern, notify the union of the steps you have taken and engage them in any dispute resolution processes you take.

If the worker has a health and safety representative or if your workplace has a health and safety committee, they must also be included in the dispute resolution process.


Next- What if the issue is difficult to fix?

Work debate spaces: Improve safety practices with employee input. Oct 15th, 2014
In daily work, there will always be situations that are either not covered by the rules or in which the rules are locally inapplicable. To foster participatory approaches in safety it is necessary to develop means to consider the actual organization and interactions among workers.

Safety relies on the ability of workers to assess the applicability of procedures and adaptations to carry them out. In order to progress, it is necessary to consider the safety approach as adaptive, dynamic, and developmental. Although the concepts around the development of a safety and safety culture are well developed, tools and methods that enable practitioners to ensure that the system in which they work are resilient and able to bounce back quickly to errors or other unexpected events are required.

Participatory approaches may play a key role. But how to develop participatory approaches that articulate the formal and the living organization? A possible way is the discussion and confrontation of points of view between different stakeholders of the organization around elements of the real work.

Work debate spaces (WDS)

To foster participatory approaches in safety it is necessary to develop means to consider the actual organization and interactions among workers. These are concepts developed by the approaches ‘Strategizing’ and ‘Work of Organization’.

Strategizing: This approach integrates the routines of meetings, discussions, or data processing in the definition and implementation of a ‘strategy’. It is important that the strategic issues of the organization are not decided and imposed by the leaders, but rather are the result of a daily construction with all stakeholders of the organization.

Work of Organization: This approach describes a living organization: occupational rules are developed by the employees in order to mitigate the defects of the formal organization, and to develop safety.

Both approaches consider an organization defined simultaneously by the leaders and by local and temporary regulations constructed by employees in the field. The questions they raise are needed to feed the managerial and strategic levels of the organization.

Articulating safety challenges is only possible with a working group to identify the situations that are particularly difficult to manage, to discuss them within the organizations and to propose changes.

WDS's are a time for discussion. The group advocates the discussion of work on a regular and protected basis, coordinated by a manager who does not belong to the direct hierarchy (e.g. Health and Safety Representatives). This method acts as a medium that deals with all the arrangements, compromises and adaptations that are required for safety system changes.

WDS permit not only the improvement of safety, but also help develop the competences of the employees, management and HR department with the bigger picture realities of health and safety. It allows safety to move beyond the traditional perimeter of the retrospective analysis of dysfunctions, and enter in learning dynamic starting with field situations. It allows the development of safety by different levels in the company, and progresses the organization beginning with experiences within the organization itself. This permits the development of an enabling environment for safety

It is necessary that the executive committee be engaged in the process by supplying the technical, organizational, and human means so that the WDS can be instigated. A preliminary phase is necessary, based on observations and interviews with workers, to engage the elements for the development of the WDS. Within these spaces, some conditions are defined so that people can experience the improvement proposals: a discussion based on real work activity, a joint elaboration and evaluation of solutions based on a dynamics of confrontation. 


Sick leave patterns in common musculoskeletal disorders Oct 14th, 2014
Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are the most common causes of severe long-term pain and physical disability and have a major impact on society.

Sick leave is an important public health problem with both social, economic and health related consequences for the individual as well as social and economic consequences for society, and MSD’s are one of the most common reasons for work disability and sick leave.

20 251 sick leave periods were issued for 16, 673 with a mean (SD) age of 43. The main purpose was to give a descriptive overview of sick leave patterns in different diseases within the group of MSDs, including all doctors prescribed sick leave. The aim was to get comparable estimates of duration, age and sex distribution and patterns of recurrent sick leave for the different subgroups.

Adjusted for age, the mean number of days per sick leave period was 26 days for low back pain and 27 days for myalgia (i.e. other soft tissue disorders not classified elsewhere). Disc disorders and rheumatoid arthritis had the longest periods with a mean of 150 and 147 days respectively. For hip and knee osteoarthritis the mean was 81 and 116 days respectively

The distribution of number of sick leave periods, over age categories, and between men and women, was different for the different disease groups. For back disorders, the total number of sick leave periods was highest in the age groups 40–44 and 45–49, with a similar pattern for women and men. The number of sick leave periods for knee and hip osteoarthritis peaked in the older age groups with a predominance of men in the hip osteoarthritis group.  Myalgia had a more even distribution over the age categories with similar patterns for men and women.

25% had more than one sick leave period during the two years. Out of the six studied disease groups, individuals with rheumatoid arthritis had the greatest share of recurrent sick leave periods (34%) despite also having a greater share of long sick leave periods. The other conditions with typically long sick leave periods, e.g., disc disorders and hip osteoarthritis, had less recurrent sick leave (15 and 18% respectively), while typical conditions with short sick leave periods, e.g., back pain and myalgia, had more episodes of recurrent sick leave.


Exercise and start talking: tips to help improve FIFO workers’ mental health Oct 13th, 2014
FIFO workers are being urged to implement six simple strategies in order to stay mentally healthy.

Avoiding the wages trap, keeping the lines of communication open and staying physically fit are among the steps workers can take to improve their mental health, according to industry support group Mining Family Matters.

Numerous studies into the wellbeing of FIFO workers has found stress, anxiety, divorce, drug and alcohol use and a sense of helplessness are prevalent among the workforce.

A study last year by Lifeline WA and Edith Cowan University psychologists, found a number of issues affecting FIFO workers’ mental health. In August the West Australian parliament unanimously backed an inquiry into the link between FIFO mining rosters and suicide.


Mining Family Matters has suggested the following strategies:

  1. Be honest about how you're feeling and tackle problems as a team. Many problems that arise are symptoms of the FIFO lifestyle, rather than relationship problems.

  2. Set shared goals.

  3. Don't assume that your life is tougher than your partner's. (Life is not a competition - you're both exhausted.)

  4. Get financial advice to ensure good wages are saved and invested wisely, instead of being trapped by large debt.

  5. Exercise regularly - it will improve the health of both body and mind.

  6. Try to keep the lines of communication open when you're apart (and if you don't feel like talking, explain why in a loving way).


Video - Wheelchair Basketball Fitness Circuit Oct 11th, 2014