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Abstract

Objective: This paper attempted to examine the question of whether 351 disability services workers in an Australian State Government agency given manual handling training had significantly lower injury rates from manual handling injuries a year post-training than a control group (n=351) without the training.

Methods: Control group members were selected by stratified random sampling to closely match the intervention group. The measures employed were the number of reported manual handling injuries per 100 full-time equivalents by certain characteristics, frequency of incidents, mean workers' compensation cost, and mean compensated days.

Results: Training in manual handling methods significantly reduced the risk by as much as 42%, with an average rate of 49.6 per 100 full-time equivalents (95% confidence interval 44.4–55.0) among the intervention group compared with 84.8 per 100 full-time equivalents (95% confidence interval 76.0–94.1) among controls. The risk differential was consistent across gender, age group, length of service, and job classification. However, in two injury categories (client lift/transfer and general manual handling), the intervention group had a marginally higher risk. The average workers' compensation cost in the control group was 4.2 times that in the intervention group.

Conclusion: While the study has some weaknesses, overall, there is little evidence to suggest that the outcome observed was due to threats to internal validity. It is expected that the findings can encourage further evaluation studies of workplace safety training programs.