Apprentice fails to report injury and ends up with an infection

Public news

How many times have you sustained an injury at work and not reported it only to find out later that it keeps getting worse and worse to the point that you now cannot go to work as the pain is too great?

These are the types of comments the MTA’s WHS and RTW Coordinator receives when investigating an incident that involves apprentices that have either run out of sick leave, or haven’t presented for work for a period of time due to their injury.

Why is it so important that all injuries need to be reported? For workers it is all about reporting the incident as a record, to not only prevent injury to others, but also early intervention, seeking the treatment you need to get back to normal duties. For the employer, it is a direct responsibility under the WHS Act.

Only last month a MTA 2nd Year Heavy Vehicle Apprentice suffered a foreign (metal) body to his right arm and decided not to report it to his host employer, or anyone else, as he thought it was no big deal and the pain would just go away. A week later, his right arm became worse and the apprentice was taken immediately to the Emergency Department where it was assessed that he had a serious infection requiring urgent surgery to remove the piece of metal in his right arm. The apprentice lost 3 days off work, but fortunately made a full recovery.

The medical staff stated that if the apprentice had reported the incident and sought immediate first aid he would have not suffered an infection and lost time from work.

It is MTA policy that all apprentices must report injuries as soon as possible to the host and with 24 hours to the MTA. The most important reason that we need all injuries reported is to allow us to arrange for prompt medical treatment. Proper medical care is important to reduce the possibility of a minor injury becoming worse, as it did in this case.

Beyond the need for immediate medical treatment, there is another equally important reason to report all accidents and injuries. Accidents must be investigated and their causes found to prevent the same injuries from happening again to someone else.

Experience tells us that for every serious accident, there are a greater number of minor accidents and near misses. When we ignore a minor accident or near miss, we are increasing the odds that a serious accident will occur. Accidents, whether they result in injury, are warnings that there are uncontrolled hazards. Below is an example of a “Staff Incident Report Form” for your information.

If you require any assistance in reporting incidents please contact MTA’s WHS & RTW Coordinator, Cos Lamberto, by clicking here.