Discomfort, pain and injury

Prevent and manage discomfort, pain and injury effectively, and your employees will be happier, healthier and more productive. Injury-related costs can go down, and you can more easily meet your legal requirement to protect your employees from harm.

What do we mean by ‘discomfort, pain and injury’?

Discomfort, pain and injury problems cover many conditions of the muscles and bones, such as:

  • Gradual Process Injuries (GPI)
  • simple back pain
  • strains and sprains.

These problems often happen gradually over time, rather than from sudden events.

Why is ‘discomfort, pain and injury a problem?

For employers

Wages are only one part of the cost you carry when an employee goes on sick leave. You may also have costs related to:

  • the incident and its investigation
  • damage to your workplace
  • finding and training a replacement worker
  • effects on productivity.

Use the injury cost calculator to work out the real cost of an injury, and then work out how much you need to produce or sell to recover that cost.

Use the calculator online.

For workers

Apart from the stress of not being able to do your job properly, discomfort, pain or injury can have a much bigger impact. It’s difficult to measure the cost of not being able to pick up your children or play sports, or even just sit comfortably to watch television or talk with friends.

What can I do to reduce discomfort, pain and injury problems?


Use HabitAtWork to educate workers and managers about how to prevent and manage discomfort, pain and injury in the workplace.

On this site you can:

  • get the facts about discomfort, pain and injury
  • do the HabitAtWork quiz
  • learn how to work in comfort
  • set up your workstation to suit you
  • assess your learning and print a certificate
  • help yourself get rid of pain.

If you’re a manager, visit the Manager’s Toolkit for help with:

  • preventing injury – actions for workers and managers, and resources
  • early reporting – includes downloadable forms, and advice about how to conduct a meeting with a worker who has made an early report
  • stay at work and recover from injury – actions for workers and managers, and resources
  • return to work after recovering from injury – actions for workers and managers, and resources
  • barriers to recovery that can block successful return to work.

Early reporting

Encourage workers to report discomfort early so you can nip it in the bud. Use the early report forms on HabitAtWork if you don’t have any, and visit the Manager’s Toolkit for advice on what to do after an early report is made.

Work Smart Tips

Use Work Smart Tips to create personalised sheets of stretches and health and safety tips for a worker, a team or even a whole workplace.

Useful for:

  • induction
  • health and safety refreshers
  • toolbox talks
  • when early report of discomfort is made
  • when changing to a new task.

Learn online

Do the DPI101 training module - take 20 minutes, have some fun and learn how:

  • discomfort or pain doesn’t mean injury, and you can even have injury without pain
  • the sooner you know about discomfort and deal with it, the better
  • many different factors combine to cause discomfort, pain and injury problems
  • you need to find and fix as many of these contributory factors as possible.

The module will also introduce you to our most popular online resources. There are more on the DPI resources page.

Prefer to read?

Download our overview ACC5181 Preventing and Managing Discomfort, Pain and Injury (PDF 2.4M, 35 pages). It explains ideas and information that can help you to reduce the impact of these problems in your workplace.

Want information, printed and downloadable resources?


Got a tough question?

Email dpi@acc.co.nz

Updated: 26 August 2015

Reviewed: 23 January 2014