1763 The development of a state-wide framework for the prevention and management of work-related musculoskeletal disorders: a western australian experience

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Abstract

Introduction

In Australia, work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSD) is a workplace condition that has been prioritised to be addressed at state and national levels. The cost and burden associated with musculoskeletal disorders workers’ compensation claims in Western Australia (WA) as a result of body stressing and slips, trips and falls is high and accounts for approximately 60% of claims. Time trends have demonstrated that on average, each WMSD claim has become more expensive and led to longer periods off work.

Introduction

Preventing and managing WMSDs are complex, owing to the interaction of multiple risk factors, including workplace physical, workplace psychosocial and individual risk factors. An array of primary, secondary and tertiary prevention level interventions such as ergonomic intervention, risk management, wellness programs, early and appropriate clinical intervention and return to work rehabilitation programs have been tested. Wide scope public health influencers exist in several forms, including education, stakeholder partnership and legislation. Collectively, the complexity of this problem indicates that public health strategies for this condition require a multidisciplinary and multifaceted approach that should be sustained over a period of time. Musculoskeletal models of care and frameworks that have been developed by multiple stakeholders at statewide levels have been shown to be of value. This talk will describe the process of developing such a framework through surveys and focus groups for the state of Western Australia.

Methods

Key stakeholders for WMSDs in WA were initially identified and placed in a network database. These comprised of government agencies, employer and employee groups, special interest groups, professional bodies, key academics, industry peak bodies and the insurance sector. Surveys and focus groups were held across Western Australia over a 3 month period. The primary aim of the qualitative data collection was to gain an understanding of the views of key stakeholders in relation to the prevention and management of work-related musculoskeletal, particularly their believes of the risk factors, facilitators and barriers for success and their views of current policy and legislation associated with this condition.

Results

Information collected demonstrated that a high proportion of key stakeholders viewed this as a significant state-wide issue. The views of key stakeholders in relation to risk factors, barriers and facilitators for the prevention and management of this condition varied across the stakeholder groups and trends could be identified within and between stakeholder groups. Results show the interconnection between these stakeholder groups and the potential value of systematic and organised information sharing and staged collaborative intervention.

Conclusion

The development of a state-wide framework for WMSDs requires an understanding of the evidence behind the multifaceted interventions, and a staged and consultative approach to achieve ownership and confidence in the stakeholders and implementers of the framework.

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