REPORT SHOWS IMPACT OF FALLS IN THE WHEATBELT

MEDIA RELEASE

Injury Matters, in partnership with the WA Department of Health, released the 2020 Western Australian Falls Report. The Report highlights the significant incidence of falls-related fatalities, hospitalisations, and emergency department attendances in the state.

The Report shows that the Wheatbelt region experienced one of the highest rates of falls-related hospitalisations in the state, with a staggering 1,024 hospitalisations in 2017.

Falls are a significant public health issue affecting families and the health care system, with falls ranking as the leading cause of injury hospitalisations and emergency department attendances in WA. The Report shows someone died every 26 hours in WA due to a falls-related injury in 2017; while older adults and those in regional WA remain overrepresented in falls injury statistics.

Last year, Injury Matters partnered with the Shire of Bruce Rock to address the issue of falls in the Wheatbelt town’s ageing population. Engaging with Injury Matters’ Stay On Your Feet® program, the Shire accessed a community grant to deliver the Building Stronger Seniors program. Prior to the implementation of the program, local residents did not have access to a preventative focused exercise program, only local care services due to location.

Significant improvements were recorded in all participants of the program, particularly regarding their stability and strength. Participants reported that they enjoyed the program, no longer required aids to perform certain exercises, had more confidence completing activities of daily living and benefited from the social networking.

Injury Matters Chief Executive, Sandy Lukjanowski said, “This Report demonstrates that falls continue to have large impact on the WA community. Behind every number in this Report are real people who have had their lives impacted by a fall.”

“Through Local Governments like the Shire of Bruce Rock engaging with falls prevention activities, we can help older adults to continue to live healthy, long lives, uninterrupted by falls injuries.”

Read the Report here: https://injurymatters.org.au/2020-wa-falls-report

Find out more about the Stay On Your Feet® program at www.stayonyourfeet.com.au 

2020 Western Australian Falls Report key findings, in Western Australia:

  • Every 26 hours someone died due to a falls-related injury in 2017.
  • Every 19 minutes someone was admitted to hospital due to a falls-related injury in 2018.
  • Every 12 minutes someone presented to the emergency department due to a falls-related injury in 2018.
  • 329 falls-related fatalities in 2017.
  • 27,327 falls-related hospitalisations in 2018.
  • Individuals aged 80 years and over experience the highest rate of falls-related injuries.
  • Females experienced a higher rate of falls-related hospitalisations and emergency department attendances in 2018.
  • 42,384 falls-related emergency department presentations in 2018.
  • $215.2 million was paid in lost-time compensation claims in 2018 due to a workplace falls.

The Report shows that the Wheatbelt region experienced one of the highest rates of falls-related hospitalisations in the state, with a staggering 1,024 hospitalisations in 2017.

Falls are a significant public health issue affecting families and the health care system, with falls ranking as the leading cause of injury hospitalisations and emergency department attendances in WA. The Report shows someone died every 26 hours in WA due to a falls-related injury in 2017; while older adults and those in regional WA remain overrepresented in falls injury statistics.

Last year, Injury Matters partnered with the Shire of Bruce Rock to address the issue of falls in the Wheatbelt town’s ageing population. Engaging with Injury Matters’ Stay On Your Feet® program, the Shire accessed a community grant to deliver the Building Stronger Seniors program. Prior to the implementation of the program, local residents did not have access to a preventative focused exercise program, only local care services due to location.

Significant improvements were recorded in all participants of the program, particularly regarding their stability and strength. Participants reported that they enjoyed the program, no longer required aids to perform certain exercises, had more confidence completing activities of daily living and benefited from the social networking.

Injury Matters Injury Prevention Manager, Sandy Lukjanowski said, “This Report demonstrates that falls continue to have large impact on the WA community. Behind every number in this Report are real people who have had their lives impacted by a fall.”

“Through Local Governments like the Shire of Bruce Rock engaging with falls prevention activities, we can help older adults to continue to live healthy, long lives, uninterrupted by falls injuries.”

Read the Report here: https://injurymatters.org.au/2020-wa-falls-report

Find out more about the Stay On Your Feet® program at www.stayonyourfeet.com.au 

2020 Western Australian Falls Report key findings, in Western Australia:

  • Every 26 hours someone died due to a falls-related injury in 2017.
  • Every 19 minutes someone was admitted to hospital due to a falls-related injury in 2018.
  • Every 12 minutes someone presented to the emergency department due to a falls-related injury in 2018.
  • 329 falls-related fatalities in 2017.
  • 27,327 falls-related hospitalisations in 2018.
  • Individuals aged 80 years and over experience the highest rate of falls-related injuries.
  • Females experienced a higher rate of falls-related hospitalisations and emergency department attendances in 2018.
  • 42,384 falls-related emergency department presentations in 2018.
  • $215.2 million was paid in lost-time compensation claims in 2018 due to a workplace falls.

MEDIA RELEASE | MaPS on our Roads Launched: A Map to Heavy Vehicle Safety

MaPS on our Roads Launched: A Map to Heavy Vehicle Safety Injury Matters has officially launched the Mental and Physical Safety on our Roads (MaPS on our Roads) program at the 24th Transafe WA Road Transport Industry Safety Forum in Wembley, with support from the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR).

This program aims to support heavy vehicle operators maintain mental and physical wellbeing in their work. In WA, 207 people were killed in 185 crashes involving heavy vehicles between 2008 and 2016. With a vast and remote road network in WA, truck drivers are often the first on scene of a road crash and may have to provide critical first aid assistance.

Injury Matters Chief Executive, Sandy Lukjanowski said, “This program will provide information and education to assist heavy vehicle operators in how they manage the impact a road crash may have on them after the scene is cleared.”

“Given the distances travelled on our expansive road network in WA, coupled with an aging workforce, addressing the physical safety and mental health among heavy vehicle operators is vital to help keep this industry safe on our roads.”

The first MaPS on our Roads campaign, Your MaP to Recovery: After a Road Crash focuses on the importance of staying mentally and physically well on the road, looking after themselves and others after a road crash, and the supports available to help.

“Heavy vehicle safety is a responsibility for all road users, and through local safety programs we can make our roads safer for everyone,” Ms Lukjanowski said.

NHVR CEO Sal Petroccitto said that the project was funded as part of the Heavy Vehicle Safety Initiative (HVSI).

“The HVSI provides funding to implementable, value-for-money projects that focus on improving road safety,” Mr Petroccitto said.

“Life on the road can be very tough on the mental and physical health of drivers and focusing on what we can do to support better health outcomes is a key priority for the NHVR.

“Healthy drivers are safer drivers. Projects like MaPS that address the specific health challenges faced by drivers are critical to improving the overall wellbeing of our industry.”

Between 2019-20, Injury Matters conducted group consultations, in-depth interviews, and a heavy vehicle operator survey with those working within the heavy vehicle industry to form this campaign. These consultations confirmed that heavy vehicle operators are often the first to come across the scene of a road crash.

Ms Lukjanowski said, “Heavy vehicle operators are exposed to road crashes more than most, and it is important that the industry itself supports mateship, encouraging those working to check in on their mates if they have been involved in a crash.”

“Support is available, and we understand everyone’s experience is personal to them. We encourage everyone to use healthy coping strategies, recognise when they may need some additional support and to reach out if in need of support,” Ms Lukjanowski said.

Project resources and information is available at www.injurymatters.org.au/mapsonourroads

Sandy Lukajowski with Celia Hammond MP

Injury Matters is committed to collaborating and listening to those within the heavy vehicle industry. If you or someone you know is working or has worked in the industry, contact us on 6166 7688 or email [email protected] 

The MaPS on our Roads project is funded as part of the Heavy Vehicle Safety Initiative, administered by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator on behalf of the Commonwealth Government.

More photos coming soon.

Statement from Injury Matters relating to the Final Report of the Select Committee on Personal Choice and Community Safety

In response to the Final Report by the Select Committee on Personal Choice and Community Safety titled Community safety: for the greater good, but at what cost? released in May 2020, Injury Matters affirms the submission put forth on 5 October 2018 by Injury Matters and its partners.1

Download our Response here.

Below outlines Injury Matters position concerning specific findings and recommendations of the report.

Bicycle Helmets

Injury Matters upholds its position that bicycle helmet laws are of critical importance in the reduction of road trauma and do not impinge upon individuals’ liberties. Therefore, helmets should be enforced for all cyclists, both on and off the road with no exemptions. Evidence demonstrates that not wearing a helmet can be the difference between a minor or fatal head injury.2 A 2017 Australian review assessing bicycle helmet effectiveness found that helmet use reduced the odds of head injuries by 51% and fatal head injuries by 65%.3

Injury Matters supports Findings 2 through 5 of the report.

  • Measures such as improved road infrastructure, lower speed limits and greater driver awareness and education are effective tools to increase cycling participation in Western Australia.
  • Head and neck injuries accounted for 25.9 per cent of the cycling injuries between 1999-00 and 2015-16 (and 48 per cent between 2013-14 and 2015-16). Bicycle helmets are an effective safety measure to decrease the risk of such injuries when cycling.
  • While bicycle helmets are effective for reducing the risk of serious or fatal head injuries, they cannot be relied upon as the only method of protecting cyclists. Governments must also ensure that effective bicycle infrastructure, such as separate shared paths or dedicated bicycle lanes, are part of any cycling policy.
  • While the current legislative regime, that mandates the wearing of bicycle helmets while cycling, restricts personal choice for individuals, this regime is clearly an effective safety measure for the prevention of head and brain injuries.

Injury Matters does not support either of the proposed Recommendations 1 or 2. The recommendation to trial no helmet use at Rottnest Island is unrealistic in nature and is not considerate of potential delays medical treatment. This setting does not offer outcomes that are transferable to a real-world setting where road traffic is present.

E-cigarettes

E-cigarette use poses risk to nicotine poisoning and long-term health consequences. Evidence demonstrates that the effects of nicotine exposure range from being relatively mild, including irritation of the eyes and skin, nausea and vomiting, to severe life-threatening illness, and in some cases, death.4 In July 2018, the Medical Journal of Australia published results that revealed from 2009-2016 there were 200 cases of nicotine related poisonings in Western Australia, of which 40% involved children under 15 years of age.5

Injury Matters maintains its position that efforts should be made to increase public awareness of nicotine toxicity and maintain legislation to restrict access.

Injury Matters does not support Recommendation 3 to lift the prohibition on the sale of e-cigarette devices. Should the Tobacco Products Control Act 2006 be amended, then significant regulation would be required to ensure the safety of Western Australians, in particular children and young people.

Safety in water

Injury Matters supports the existing legislation of mandatory pool fencing to prevent toddler drowning. No findings or recommendations were provided in the report relating to pool fencing legislation. Injury Matters maintains the position that mandatory pool fencing should remain legislated in Western Australia in combination with other effective interventions such as public awareness and education when around water. Mandatory pool fencing does not hinder, restrict or impact on pool user wellbeing or enjoyment.

Evidence demonstrates that lifejackets are effective drowning prevention strategies for rivers, adults, older people, young people, weak swimmers and those who fish from rocks or boats.6

Injury Matters reserves comment on Recommendation 10 until the Recreational Vessel Safety Equipment Review is complete.

Injury Matters supports Finding 24 of the report:

  • Mandatory lifejackets may be an appropriate safety measure for areas identified as ‘black spots’, subject to the outcomes of the trial at Salmon Holes.

Concluding comment

The reduction and removal of regulations that safeguard against poor health fail to consider the complexities of society that influence health behaviours. Multiple factors, including individual awareness, knowledge, costs, environmental influences, policy regulations and cultural factors, influence injury prevention and safety promotion decision-making.7

Empowering people to make healthy choices through awareness-raising and education interventions are important approaches, however some health issues must be complemented with policy levers such as infrastructure and legislation to make the healthy choice the easy choice.8

A range of injury prevention interventions are cost-saving in that they cost less to implement then the resource costs they save.9 Injury prevention interventions can therefore represent significant value for money, including bicycle helmets, prohibition of sales of e-cigarette devices and use of lifejackets for safety in water.

Injury Matters continues to support health-driven, evidence-based legislation and policies and supports appropriate legislation and regulations that enable safer people and places, which focus on improving their health by preventing injury.

Injury Matters recommendations in response to the Final Report of the Select Committee on Personal Choice and Community Safety are:

  1. Maintain mandatory bicycle helmet legislation in WA.
  2. Maintain current prohibition of e-cigarette devices in WA.
  3. Maintain mandatory pool barrier legislation in WA.

References

  1.  Injury Matters. Injury Matters Submission to the Inquiry on Personal Choice and Community Safety. (2018).
  2.  Gill, T. Bike helmets: an emergency doctor’s perspective. The Conversation (2013).
  3. Ding Yee Lee, J. The epidemiology of severe and fatal injury among Western Australian cyclists: a linked data analysis. (The University of Western Australia, 2017).
  4. Eggleston, W., Nacca, N., Stork, C. M. & Marraffa, J. M. Pediatric death after unintentional exposure to liquid nicotine for an electronic cigarette. Clinical toxicology (Philadelphia, Pa.) 54, 890—891 (2016).
  5. Huynh, A. et al. Retrospective review of Australian PICs data from 2009 to 2016. Patterns of poisoning exposure at different ages. 2015 annual report of the Australian Poisons Information Centres.
  6. Peden, A. E., Demant, D., Hagger, M. S. & Hamilton, K. Personal, social, and environmental factors associated with lifejacket wear in adults and children: A systematic literature review. PLoS One 13, e0196421–e0196421 (2018).
  7. Injury Matters. Intervention components and types. Know Injury https://knowinjury.org.au/learn/interventions/
  8. World Health Organization. Ottawa Charter for Public Health. (1986).
  9. Pacific Institute for Research Evaluation. Injury prevention: What works? A summary of cost-outcome analysis for injury prevention programs (2014 update). https://www.childrenssafetynetwork.org/publications/whatworks2014 (2014).

How do we evolve as an injury prevention community?

Written by Rachel Meade, Injury Prevention Manager at Injury Matters.

From the 5-7 November 2018, the 13th World Safety Conference on Injury Prevention was held in Bangkok, Thailand. This event brought  together over a thousand of the world’s leading researchers, practitioners, policy makers and activists to share information and experience on injury prevention. This year’s theme was Advancing Injury And Violence Prevention Towards Sustainable Development Goals.

The juxtaposition of an injury prevention conference with the ever-present challenges of injury in Bangkok were significant. It was eye-opening to see the challenges locals face on a daily basis; while navigating the streets of Bangkok, road safety, burns, falls and electrical hazards were never far from my mind.

The conference highlighted that global progress in injury prevention is too slow, and how we need to look beyond the public health sector for solutions and improvements.

It was the opinion of Professor Adnan Hyder of John Hopkins University that as a community, we need to think of safety as a value if we are to overcome challenges. As public health professionals, we need to look beyond the risk factors for injury and look at the social issues which enable the risk factors to be present.

We need to advocate and be outraged that people are dying and being seriously injured at the rate that they are.

In 2015, 2474 people died from falls in Australia. Where is the outrage at this? If there was a singular event that resulted in that many fatalities there would be significant attention in the media, but because it is individuals and not a collective the attention is not given. Injury is a significant public health priority in Australia and we need to make more noise to bring it to the forefront of the community.

Safety and injury prevention is everyone’s business. We need action across government departments, by NGOs, industry and importantly by community. We need to change our mindset when we think of safety, where it is something we value and think of the whole system to solve the problem.

At the end of the conference five solutions were suggested:

  1. Strengthen government leadership and accountability
  2. Strengthen legislation and regulation
  3. Shaping social norms
  4. Scaling up interventions for injury and violence prevention
  5. Strengthening monitoring and capacities

As a developed nation, Australia is in the fortunate position that we are advanced in some areas where the solutions were placed such as legislation and regulation.

One area where I think we need to focus on is the shaping of social norms, particularly with all forms of interpersonal violence and alcohol; which are supported and enabled through legislation, regulation and leadership.

We need to focus our efforts on the people who need our assistance the most, the vulnerable.

The conference concluded with the reading of the Bangkok statement which can be found on  www.worldsafety2018.org and announced the next conference to be hosted by the Public Health Association of  Australia in Adelaide in November 2020. Perhaps in two years we will see how injury prevention has evolved, shaped by the evidence of what we know works and implementing interventions with the people who are in need.

We’re partnering with the Town of East Fremantle to help residents stay on their feet

The Town of East Fremantle and Injury Matters are joining forces for a six month project to help combat falls amongst older adults living in the local government area. Falls are the leading cause of injury in the Town of East Fremantle, accounting for 463 hospitalisations and 7 fatalities between 2012 and 2016.

Continue reading “We’re partnering with the Town of East Fremantle to help residents stay on their feet”

New resource – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and injury

Know Injury has recently released a new resource regarding the incidence of injury among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The resource outlines a number of statistics including that in WA Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are hospitalised due to injury 2.5 times more than non-Aboriginal people, with 10,165 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples hospitalised due to injury from July 2013 to June 2015.

Click here to access the new resource.

Injury Matters Submission to National Road Safety Strategy Inquiry 2011-2020

On 8 September the Australian Government announced an inquiry in to the national Road Safety Strategy 2011-2020.

Despite efforts to improve road safety and driver behaviour, road fatalities and critical injuries remain a serious problem in Western Australia. The physical impact as well as mental heath outcomes of individuals and communities affected by road crashes can be long lasting. Injury Matters provides much needed high quality mental health support services for people who have been affected by a road trauma through the Road Trauma Support WA service.

Injury Matters’ submission to the inquiry can be read here.

Hospitalisations due to farm injuries in Australia

A recent release by AIHW, Hospitalised farm injury, Australia: 2010-11 to 2014-15, highlights that there were 22,000 hospitalisations in Australia between 2010-11 and 2014-15 due to injuries which occurred on a farm.

Click here to view Know Injury’s blog about the report or access the full AIHW report today.