Bizarre payouts for work injuries

Last updated 05:00 24/08/2014

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An office might seem like a safer place to work than in a crane, with a chainsaw or on a ship but cubicle desks and inner-city lunchrooms are not without their risks.

Last year ACC received more than 8000 claims related to people injuring themselves with or on things in and around the office.

ACC received 47 claims for paper cuts, including one instance in which the person suffered a paper cut to the eye, and another in which a worker cut their right hand and little finger.

There were also 31 reported instances of a hot cuppa going horribly wrong.

Of the 31 coffee-related workplace claims, most were for burns suffered because of spilt coffee but in one case the worker was injured when their coffee mug hit their front tooth.

However, tea and coffee were not the only beverages responsible for workplace injuries.

Last year ACC received eight claims related to vending-machine injuries, at least one of them involved a back injury from moving a vending machine.

ACC claims indicated vending machines were not the only heavy piece of workplace equipment related to back problems.

The corporation received 7993 workplace claims relating to boxes last year and at least one injury was caused by lifting.

Other injuries occurred when a 27-kilogram box fell on a worker's arm, one when a box full of metal tools fell on someone's foot and another when a box fell on a person's head.

ACC spokeswoman Stephanie Melville said lifting, carrying and strain injuries were one of the corporation's new focus areas.

Meanwhile, the focus areas within the office environment should be workstation setups that helped reduce slips, trips and falls, through good housekeeping measures like tying up loose cables, Melville said.

A greater understanding on the wider aspects of what contributed to workplace injury was also needed in Kiwi workplaces, she said.

Better understanding of things such as the way work was organised, the breaks employees were taking, and the stress and health of the employees could lead to "a healthier, productive and safer workplace".

ACC guidelines for using computers safely outlined a systematic process to control hazards when working with computers but could also be applied to the wider office environment, she said.

The guidelines say employers are required to systematically control significant hazards within the office space.

Workplaces should identify and understand hazards and put in place controls to address them, such as addressing work organisation, work environment, posture and practices, office furniture and equipment and education.

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