Serious about grazier safety webinar series
This webinar series is brought to you by Workplace Health and Safety Queensland and OBE Organic.
There are eight webinars in the series, which is based on the Serious about farm safety guide to assist you to develop a simple safety management system.
- Step One - Management commitment
- Step Two - Risk management
- Step Three - Safe systems of work
- Step Four - Induction, training and supervision
- Step Five - Reporting safety
- Step Six - Five easy steps to maintaining and improving the health of workers
- Step Seven - Working with WorkCover
- Step Eight - Common Law Claims
Topics covered in webinar one are:
- injury statistics in the beef industry
- benefits of managing safety
- an overview of the legislative requirement for management commitment
- What is due diligence?
- What does management commitment mean?
- how to develop a workplace health and safety policy
Download a copy of this film (ZIP/MP4, 180MB)
Serious about grazier safety webinar series
Step 1 – Management Commitment
Brenton Garlick, Senior Project Officer, Compliance and Business Engagement, WH&S Qld and Dalene Wray, General Manager, OBE Organic
Good afternoon. Welcome to this webinar series. Series about Serious about grazier safety. I am Ros Rees, Senior Project Officer in the Agricultural Unit of Workplace Health and Safety Queensland and I'll be your Facilitator for today's webinar.
This will be the first of a series of six webinars based on the Serious about farm safety guide to assist you to develop a simple safety management system. The full guide and templates are available on the Workplace Health and Safety website. The webinars will be taking you through each of the steps of a safety management system. Templates and checklists for each session will be provided and there'll be time for some questions at the end. We would really appreciate you taking the time to complete the quick survey at the end of each webinar to provide us with your feedback. There will be a webinar at the beginning of each month for the next six months, then two early next year from WorkCover on managing injuries and return to work and Common Law claims.
I'd like to say thank you to OBE Organic for their collaboration for the production of these webinars and also Grazing BMP.
I'd like now to introduce Dalene Wray, the General Manager of OBE Organic to just say a few words of introduction.
Good afternoon everyone. OBE Organic is proud to be partnering with Workplace Health and Safety Queensland, WorkCover and Grazing BMP to bring you this webinar series. OBE Organic is Australia's oldest beef marketing company founded 20 years ago by graziers to maximise the value of their product. We're a family farming business like many of yours. The organic industry is well known for paying premiums for cattle but at OBE Organic we want to go beyond that and support graziers like yourselves to build multigenerational businesses that are more profitable and productive.
These farm safety webinars are just one of the ways OBE is working to make the lives of cattle producers better, especially organic cattle producers. Some of our other initiatives to benefit graziers include working with the Livestock Biosecurity Network to produce a biosecurity workbook specific to the organic cattle industry, providing an OBE Organic Beef Producers' forum on Facebook for producers anywhere in Australia to ask questions and share knowledge - and if you're organic or considering organic, I'd encourage you to join - perhaps most importantly working with Grazing BMP to run best practice forums every six months.
I'd highly recommend any beef producer to join the Grazing BMP program. It's free, voluntary, industry owned and proven to pinpoint where you can improve your grazing business. Go to www.bmpgrazing.com.au for more information or come along to our next OBE Organic Grazing BMP forum which will be held in Birdsville on the 27thto the 28th of September. Details are on the OBE Organic website.
We know these farm safety webinars are needed because our work with Grazing BMP has pinpointed farm safety as one of the areas that can most be improved on cattle properties. We also know it's really difficult for graziers like yourselves to get to a workshop in town somewhere and that even if you do get to a workshop whatever you learn is often quickly forgotten unless there is follow up. So in the OBE Organic spirit of innovation we've worked with our partners to develop this series that is just for cattle producers, that breaks farm safety into small steps and that has follow up every month to help you continually learn.
Our industry really needs to do better on farm safety. I hope this webinar series helps and I hope to see all of you back here every month. Please tell your friends about this farm safety webinar series and please contact me at OBE Organic if you'd like to talk about supplying us. We always need more organic cattle to meet demand.
Thank you Dalene.
I'd like to now introduce Brenton Garlick. He's your presenter for today. Brenton has worked in the health and safety and injury compensation field for six years, starting at WorkCover Queensland and now at Workplace Health and Safety Queensland. Brenton has worked with the agricultural industry for four years including presenting with Beef BMP around the Fitzroy Basin and more recently at Charleville in conjunction with OBE.
Over to you now Brenton.
Excellent. Okay thanks Ros and welcome to everyone that's joined us today for the first of our six webinars that we're putting on. What I'll do, I'll jump straight into the information just so that we can make sure we get everything that you need to know in time and we don't run out of time for any questions that we have at the end.
Okay so our first slide here is the industry's statistics. Now this is available on our website and I won't dwell on it too much however these statistics highlight why health and safety are so important in your workplace. Just to bring your attention to just a few of these just to highlight what's actually going on in your industry, on the left hand side of this slide you can see that roughly there are 15 deaths each year in the agricultural industry. So that equates to on average one every three weeks.
There's $22 million paid each year in workers' compensation and that averages out to roughly $42,000 per week for the industry. On average there's 52 days of time lost due to injury which is almost two months per worker. So this just highlights that without robust safe work practices this can really cost both the business and the entire sector quite a lot of money, not to mention the actual cost to the workers involved and the human factors.
So this and the coming webinars have been designed with the beef cattle industry in mind and complement the Serious about farm safety guide which is available on the Workplace Health and Safety website.
Okay. So as you can see there are a number of benefits to be had from managing safety correctly in your workplace. Now this just follows on from the previous slide with all the statistics. So you can see that the benefits are improved reliability and productivity in the workplace. It protects against business interruption. It helps you comply with the law. You'll have reduced costs and build organisational capacity. You'll build public trust as well as improved worker relations and experience hopefully some business growth.
So as we all know there is the Workplace Health and Safety Act and regulations which we won't go into too much today but I just need to bring your attention to the primary duties as this is what underpins yourselves as the employers and also your health and safety management systems.
So the Health and Safety Act places health and safety duties on a number of persons within the workplace such as the person conducting business and undertakings which is the PCBU, also officers, workers and other persons in the workplace. So the PCBU holds the primary duty of care within the workplace. The PCBU is usually the employer and may be a partnership, a company, an unincorporated body or association. It can also be a sole trader, government department or a statutory authority.
It's important to note that a person may have more than one health and safety duty and more than one person may actually have the same duty as well. So they must ensure as far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers while they are at work in the business or the undertaking. Of course even if you don't have any employees you still have a duty to ensure your own safety as well as the safety of any visitors or others in the workplace as well.
Now one of the best ways to show compliance of your duties under the Workplace Health and Safety Act is to have a health and safety management system. So as you can see we have broken this down into six manageable chunks for you which will be the focus of each of our monthly webinars. So that will be management commitment, risk management, safe systems of work, induction, training and supervision, reporting safety as well as the workers' compensation – two webinars at the end. So today's webinar will be on the management commitment.
So if health and safety is promoted as a high priority and managers lead by example and are genuinely interested in safety and health initiatives, this will help drive the health and safety culture with your workers. So workplace health and safety policy forms the framework for all your businesses and work operations and it also helps to maintain an accident free workplace.
A policy describes the desired standard, the priority and timeframe for implementation and what is expected from management and workers. It should also contain information about consulting with workers or their elected representatives. So the policy should be signed off by the business owner which is the PCBU and also the workers' representative and have a date of review. Then all workers should be made aware of the policy and ensure that it is understood. You need to also as the PCBU make sure that this is to be enforced and you need to keep the Workplace Health and Safety policy up to date and relevant to your workplace.
Now along with the invitation to this webinar as well as online, the Workplace Health and Safety Agricultural Unit does have some templates and checklists for you. So the first of the four templates and checklists that we have today is management commitment. So this has 13 simple questions there for you to answer. They have a 'yes', 'no', 'don't know' and 'not applicable' box that you can tick. Not all of these questions and answers will be relevant to you for your business and of course you can add onto these to make sure it is tailored to your business as well.
So going through this checklist will give you an understanding of where your business is sitting in relation to its management commitment. This checklist asks you questions such as 'Does your business have a health and safety policy?', 'Can the owner and manager state their health and safety duties when asked?', 'Do owners/managers update their health and safety knowledge regularly?' as well as a few others just to help you along the track.
As I said the template and checklist were sent out with the invitation to this webinar, however they can be sent to you after the webinar or you can log onto our website and find those out as well.
So the workplace health and safety policy, it provides a framework for your business. It describes expected standards, priorities and timeframes as well. It describes how consultation will occur with workers. It needs to be signed off by yourself and the representative. You need to have a review date and you need to make sure all workers are aware.
So if you do have access to the sample health and safety policy that we have provided you can have a look at that now. It does have four sections. So for those of you who don't have that, if you just want to take notes you can have a look at it at the end of the webinar.
So if you do have that handy you can see that the first few dot points there outline the general duties. So they're the duties that we went through just previously. The second section there is all about the management commitment. So it's what the management is actually responsible for as part of the health and safety policy.
The third section is all about the worker's responsibility. As we have seen by the duties it's not just the PCBU and the managers who now have responsibility. It's up to every single person in the workplace including the workers to understand what their duties are under the Act. Lastly at the bottom you can see that this policy is part of the entire management plan with the overall goal of having a zero work-related injuries and illnesses to workers, contractors and members of the public.
It's then signed by the PCBU and the Health and Safety Representative and it's really important to have a review date. It needs to be reviewed regularly because you don't know how or when the duties are going to change within your workplace. You may change people or the actual business operations may also change as well.
So going onto the next slide if it will come up is onto the consultation. So consultation is required under the legislation. It can take on a number of forms depending on the size and structure of your business and a good way to consult with your workers either informally or formally is by just sitting down with your workers over morning tea and just having a chat about what's going on in the workplace, what everyone's up to and even what your business is expecting to do in the future. You can just make a diary note of what has been discussed and any of the actions decided on and this would also form part of your consultation.
You can also have a bit more of a formal meeting and toolbox talks. It really depends on the size of your business and your organisation and whether you have a lot of employees or whether it's just yourself and your partner as running the business and even if you don't have any formal employees in your farm or in your business on a day to day basis.
So you'll need to record these meetings, whether they are informal or not and any actions or decisions that are made from those meetings. So a template for this is also provided but you can create your own if preferred, remembering that in the case of a serious incident any records that you do keep will help to demonstrate your commitment to managing workplace health and safety.
So consulting with workers, you need to make them feel more involved in the process and because they do the work, they can provide the best input into looking at workplace health and safety issues. By giving them buy in to any decisions that are made especially in relation to workplace health and safety will also make them more committed to the process and more likely to accept any changes that are introduced. This provides the employees to feel empowered and actually get on board with all your health and safety procedures and policies.
So that brings us to the third of our templates that we have provided for you. The third is the consultation checklist. So again it has roughly around 13 questions with the 'yes', 'no', 'don't know' and 'not applicable' and if you just go through and answer those it will give you a bit of a snapshot on how you are consulting with your workers in the workplace. Again though, this isn't just for people who do have employees. This can be anyone that has contractors who come onto your property and it can also be between yourself and other members of the partnership or family members as well.
So following on from that the fourth of our templates is the Record of Staff Toolbox Meetings. As we said when you're recording this information it can either be informal or formal. The Record of Staff Toolbox Meetings that we have provided in the template is more a formal way of actually recording the consultation within the workplace. As a lot of you are business owners in rural areas a lot of you own larger properties and of course you wouldn't be near the office or the home on a day to day basis. A lot of you do carry pocket books or little notepads, so a more informal way would just to be recording that on your notepads as well. That's absolutely fine.
So the key message to take out of the consultation is documentation. So as we've said, this does not need to be too comprehensive. As long as there is some form of record if anything does happen in the future it always provides you with something that you can actually look back on and reflect on.
So just some key summary points about the information that we've given today. The key to a good, robust safety management system is to break it down into manageable chunks. So this is what we have done for you for each of these seminars and each seminar is one of these chunks. We've done this so we don't overwhelm you with too much information and you can actually have more time in actually getting your systems up to date and actually manageable for yourself and your business.
Of course there are other resources you can use in conjunction with the webinars for both businesses with and without employees. This includes things such as the contractor management resources which can be found on the AgForce website, the Serious about farm safety guide which is found on the Workplace Health and Safety Queensland website as well as contacting Workplace Health and Safety Queensland directly for further information if you need.
So the second of our chunks of information that we are providing to you in four weeks' time is risk management which is roughly four weeks from now. So you have plenty of time to think about your management commitment and also your consultation with your workers and make sure that you can have a good policy which you can implement between now and the next webinar.
So what I'll do, I'll hand you back now to Ros just to go through some formalities just so we can see if there's any further questions that anyone would like the answer.
Thanks very much Brenton. So just while we're waiting for any questions to come in you can see up there on the screen some information on how to contact us. So there's the Infoline and the agriculture@justice email address which will give you direct access to myself and Brenton. So if you have any specific questions or you want specific information send an email to us on that agricultural email address and I'll get back to you as soon as I can.
The webinars will be available on the website in a couple of weeks and I'll notify all the attendees via an email so that you can go back and review the information at any time if you wish to. Also we'll probably notify on the OBE Facebook page of when those webinars are available on the website so anybody can go then and have a look at those and go through the information.
Please take a few minutes as I said earlier to complete the survey that will pop up at the end of the webinar. Your feedback is invaluable to us. So we'd really appreciate you taking the few minutes to do that.
Any questions coming through…
So if there are any questions they can be sent through later and what we'll do is we'll answer all those questions and send them out to everyone who attended so that you'll all get that information and the questions will be up on the website or I can provide them via email.
So please do contact us. We'd be very happy to help you out personally if you have any specific information. We're very happy to have a chat or send us an email. One of us can give you a ring. Whatever the best way is for us to contact you just let us know. We also have a Rural eSAFE newsletter which comes out three times a year and you can subscribe to that on the Workplace Health and Safety website.
We have a question coming in. The question is 'Should contractors be consulted too?' and definitely yes. Anybody who comes onto your workplace, they need to be consulted with. You should ensure that they're aware of any safe work procedures or any other policies that you have at your workplace and you should also ensure that the contractors themselves have safe work procedures and processes in place.
If you have a little look at the Contractor Management Guidewhich you can find as Brenton said on the AgForce website it will just give you an overview of how to manage a contractor coming onto your place mustering, fencing, whatever that may be. That guide was put together by the Beef Industry Safety Advisory Group and it's a good little resource to just give you some guidance on how to manage those contractors.
So I suggest that this webinar is just the first step in your safety management system. So just take a couple of hours, have a bit of a think about your policy, go back and review the information that we've provided you today and then log into next month's webinar which will take you through to the next step.
Another question coming through now, 'Should we have an induction for all workers entering the property?' The answer is yes, they should all be inducted into the property. Even though they may have been working for you previously or they may have been on a different site, they may have worked on a different property doing the same job, every site is different and there may be things like you need to make them aware of no-go zones, overhead power lines, where yards and fences are. They need to be aware of your operating procedures. So they should all be inducted into your workplace.
The induction and training and supervision webinar is the fourth one in this series. So we can provide you some more information about that but there is more information on our website. But please send an email if you have something specific. We'd be very happy to answer that for you if you send an email through.
There's a question that's come through, the working hours for the phone number that we mentioned. It's Infoline and general business hours is for that. That Infoline is also the phone number you would use to report any incidents on your property.
However if you wish to contact someone out of hours we can – or if it's more convenient for you to talk to someone out of hours, if you again just send an email to that email address we can provide you with the contact for your local Health and Safety Inspector who would be more than happy to have a chat to you at a time convenient.
So there's a question that's come in through 'What's an incident that you need to report?' There is a definition for those. There's a little bit of information about that in the Serious about farm safety guide but I would suggest that perhaps if you go to the website and look through the regulations, the Workplace Health and Safety regulations, that will outline them in more detail.
There are specific definitions for serious incidents. So that would be something that would perhaps require hospitalisation and attention from a doctor and of course obviously if it involved serious incidences, for instance amputations or anything like that obviously they would have to be reported. The fifth webinar is the one that we'll be talking more about reporting safety as well. But if you need that information before then please either contact myself on that email address, either ring Infoline or have a look on the website and the full details of those reportable incidents is on the website.
There's another question about finding the templates that we mentioned earlier today. We can email them to you. If you'd like to send an email to that agriculture email address I'm happy to send them out personally to you or they are on the website. If you go to the worksafe.qld.gov.au and just search for 'serious about farm safety' that will take you to the website where you will find a copy of the guide and the templates.
Okay. I think that's come to the end of our questions for today but I'd like to thank you all very much for attending and look forward to seeing you at webinar number two at the beginning of August. Keep an eye out on the OBE Facebook page for some information about that and for registering. Please do send in an email if you need assistance and we will talk to you in August.
Thank you very much.
[End of Transcript]
Hear about how you can improve your employees' wellbeing, manage risk, identify safety hazards and much more. This series of webinars will help you develop your safety management system to improve your workplace.
Download a copy of this film (ZIP/MP4, 164MB)
Serious about grazier safety webinar series
Office of Industrial Relations
Workplace Health and Safety Queensland
Welcome to the second webinar in our Serious about grazier safety series presented in conjunction with OBE Organic and Grazing BMP.
I am Ros Rees, Senior Project Officer with the Agriculture Unit of Workplace Health and Safety Queensland and I'll be your Facilitator for today.
In today's session we'll be going through the second element of the safety management system which is risk assessment.
The first webinar is now live on our website and I'll provide that address at the end of today's session.
Just a reminder that although these webinars are focusing on beef production, the principles of the safety management system can be applied to any industry sector.
Please send any questions through during the webinar and we'll endeavour to answer them at the end.
Please also take a few minutes to complete the survey at the end of the webinar. It provides us with valuable feedback.
Any problems you have accessing this link please let me know and I'll provide an email address for this later.
We have a bit to get through today so I'll hand you over now to your presenter for today, Brenton Garlick who's the Senior Project Officer in Compliance and Business Engagement of Workplace Health and Safety Queensland.
Brenton Garlick:Thanks Ros and welcome again to everyone for the second webinar in this series.
Firstly a quick recap on what we covered in the first session on management commitment, the first step in safety management systems.
You need to make sure that everyone is aware of their safety responsibilities, allocate time and money to safety, make safety a priority and get managers involved in safety initiatives. Managers need to lead by example and also develop a safety policy.
Make safety everyone's responsibility, involve your workers and integrate safety into everything that you do. Only develop what you need and allocate resources such as time, people and money. Strive for continuous improvement and be persistent and don't give up.
Now we will go through the second step in developing a safety management system which as you can see on the screen there is risk management.
So firstly we need to clarify what is a hazard and what is a risk.
So a hazard is something with the potential to cause injury, illness or damage to your health. There are many hazards in agriculture. Some have the potential to cause more serious injury than others and these are the ones that you need to focus on first.
Some of the typical hazards that you may see in beef production are listed on the screen. So things such as riding a horse, riding a quad bike or a motorbike, animal handling, mustering, working in the stock yards, animal and animal related diseases and also things such as sun exposure.
So what is a risk?
A risk is the likelihood that death, injury or illness might result from the hazard. So for example sharpening a tool with a bench grinder, that creates a hazard of flying metal particles.
The injury risk associated with the process is whether those flying metal particles will miss the unshielded eye, enter the outer eye causing discomfort or even pierce the eye causing blindness.
So another example would be riding a quad bike. This activity presents a number of risks such as rollover due to hitting unseen objects like rocks or holes, or even going up or down a slope that is too steep.
So the risk management process involves the four steps set out in the code of practice which is How to Manage Work Health and Safety Risks – Code of Practice 2011. A copy of this code can be found on our website and the address will be provided to you at the end of this webinar.
So the four steps in the risk management process as you can see is Step 1 – Identify the hazard, Step 2 – Assess the risk, Step 3 – Control the risk and Step 4 – Review your control measures.
So we'll now go through each of these steps in the process.
So the easiest way to look at risk management is to consider the three elements involved in the task and they are the people, the environment and also the process.
So the people – are they trained, are they competent, do they understand what they have to do and can they communicate with each other and have you consulted with them?
For the process – what is the task, what plant is being used, are the risks of using this plant being managed, am I following the manufacturer's instructions or recommendations on the safe use of the plant, are there established safe work procedures and if so, are these up to date when new equipment is introduced? Also look at things like is guarding in place?
When looking at the environment consider things such as is it raining or extremely hot, have I managed the risk of heat stress, is the work area extremely dirty, greasy or dusty, are there other people or traffic around and how can I manage the risk of these interacting? Is the work environment close to the house and are there water courses, electrical installations or any underground services nearby? Are the yards in good working order with gates that operate properly?
So all of these above questions and more need to be asked when assessing the risk. When it comes to managing the risk you need to have clear answers to these questions and knowledge of the most appropriate legislation or documents to help you to eliminate the risk, or at least reduce the risk so far as is reasonably practicable.
So Step 1 which is identify the hazard. So you need to inspect the workplace. So go for a walk around or when you are out on the property look for any potential hazards such as windmills or temporary fence and even the conditions of the yard.
You can consult with your workers about the tasks that they do and find out if they have any concerns about the aspects of the job. So do they have any suggestions for a better way to do the particular task and do they feel confident in what they are doing? Also review any available information such as injury and near miss reports and talk to your neighbours and see how you are going in comparison to with what they are doing.
So as mentioned earlier there are quite a few common, well known hazards in beef production such as riding a horse, riding a quad bike or motorbike and sun exposure, but there may also be specific hazards on your property such as terrain, ant hills, washouts and many others.
So the hazard identification checklist has been provided for your guidance in the process for identifying any hazards. It is fairly extensive to cover a range of industry sectors and it was a bit large to put on this slide but hopefully you have been able to download a copy. If you have we will also be providing you a copy at the end of this webinar and it is also available on the Workplace Health and Safety Queensland website.
So what is the hazard? So we've got a picture on the screen here for you now and just looking at this photo there are a few main hazards. So I'll just give you a moment just to have a look at that picture and see if you can spot those.
So firstly we have manual handling. We also have awkward postures and also the handling of the livestock as we know the animals can have very unpredictable behaviours.
Now Step 2 is to assess the risk. So you need to work out the likelihood of the harm occurring. The likelihood that someone will be harmed can be estimated by considering the following aspects.
So consider how often are people exposed to the hazard, how long might people be exposed to the hazard, how effective are current controls in reducing the risk, could any changes in your organisation increase the likelihood, are hazards more likely to cause harm because of the working environment and could the way people act and behave affect the likelihood of a hazard causing harm? Finally, do differences between individuals in the workplace make it more likely for harm to occur also?
You can rate the likelihood as one of the following circumstances. It could be certain to occur which means that it is expected to occur in most circumstances. It may be very likely which means that it will probably occur in most circumstances. It may be possible which means might occur occasionally or it could be unlikely which could happen at some time, or you may rate that as rare. So it may happen only in exceptional circumstances.
The level of risk will increase as the likelihood of harm and its severity increases. It is mandatory to complete and keep a copy for your future reference of a risk assessment form for all the identified hazards.
So you can see on screen now there is a template of the risk assessment form. We have sent a copy of the risk assessment template to you but if you haven't been able to download this, this is what it looks like. Again, we will be sending this to you at the end of the webinar and it is available on the website.
So there are different sections to this and we'll just go through the headings for you now if you're unable to have a look at your own copy.
So at the top we have the company details. We then name the hazard that was identified.
You answer the risk assessment questions and then document the control measures that you're going to use.
We then look at who was this implemented by and then also have the review schedule. So it's important to review all of this information as we do know that the tasks and the environment can change.
So on the screen now for you is a template of a risk register. Again this template was also sent out to you but all the templates that we do use throughout this webinar series, they will be available on the Workplace Health and Safety website.
So a risk register will help you keep track of risks that you have identified and any follow up work that is required.
So this is important that you keep this document up to date especially for any new equipment or risks that you have identified.
The risk assessment form and the risk register will be valuable forms to demonstrate your commitment to workplace health and safety in the case of any serious incident.
That brings us to Step 3 which is controlling the risk.
So things to consider when deciding on the control measures include the physical environment. So you need to look at the terrain, heat, cold, wet surfaces, any overhead power lines and anything else that may affect the job in the environment.
You also need to consider the nature of the work, the process and the working conditions.
Consider if there is any required qualifications, training and any knowledge of the task that is needed prior, and also the nature and severity of any potential injury or disease.
So you will hear safety professionals talk about the hierarchy of control for controlling the risks. The hierarchy of control sets out the highest to lowest levels of protection and the most reliable to least reliable control measures.
So this is documented in the code of practice and as you see on the screen, this shows you the level of health and safety protection and the reliability of your control measures. There's Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3.
So Level 1 is elimination and this is the highest level of protection. So when you're looking at Level 1 you consider can the hazard be totally removed? We know that this is not always possible especially with the operational tasks like mustering and working in the yards.
So then we look at the next level which is Level 2 and that includes substitution, isolation and engineering controls.
So having a look at these two pictures here, this is an example of substitution. So instead of a quad bike you can substitute a side by side vehicle or a utility, or even a horse, choosing the most appropriate tool for the job.
Looking at this example it can also be classed as elimination because you are eliminating the quad bike altogether.
Now this picture on the screen of the yards is an example of isolation. So the example in the beef industry is to look at the yard design to allow the workers to be separated from the cattle while working in the yards. Yards that are designed to promote less stress handling techniques and utilise natural stock movement can provide for quieter and more content cattle. That also makes livestock handling safer for your employees and your workers.
Other design principles for safety and ease of work for the people include self-latching gates, ready access and escape points, surfaces that reduce the risk of trips and falls and isolation of workers from your cattle. Building a new set of yards of course is not always possible, so look for simple solutions to improve the safety of the yards that you already have.
An example we were shown by one producer was fitting poly pipe over the steel rails which made it easier for the workers to roll through the rails if they needed to escape in a hurry. This was very simple, but apparently it was also very effective.
So on the screen now is another example of isolating a hazard. So shown in these pictures here is a post hole auger and as you can see, placing a guard to protect the operator from the moving parts is obviously going to mitigate against any injury to your workers.
Now engineering controls. Erecting shade over the working race in the yards to reduce sun exposure would be considered an engineering control. The previous example of the post hole auger can also be constituted as engineering as you have added something to the auger.
At the bottom of the table that we've seen previously is the Level 3 controls which is administrative controls.
Administrative controls are the lowest level of protection and they include safe work procedures, training and induction and also PPE, your personal protective equipment. Remember that PPE is the lowest form of protection and should not be the only form of control.
PPE can be used in conjunction with other controls and may be used in some situations as a temporary control until other controls are sorted out.
So for an example the administrative controls for riding a quad bike would be wearing a helmet, long pants and sturdy footwear, only workers trained in correct riding techniques are allowed to ride them, having a safe work procedure in place and they might also be speed-limited and have 'no-go' zones identified.
Or a higher level of control would be to consider another vehicle.
That brings us to Step 4 which is reviewing your control measures. A review of the control measures is very important to ensure it is appropriate, effective and not exposing workers to other risks.
In Webinar 3 we will be looking more into developing your controls through the development of safe work procedures. This involves doing a task analysis and then looking at the risks and developing controls for those specific risks.
So be sure to tune in for that one to get more information on this.
Consultation is required under the legislation and this will be a recurring theme throughout all of our webinars in this series.
As we discussed in the first webinar, talking to your workers can provide valuable information on how they are completing the tasks and any issues they have identified. So consultation will make the workers more involved and more committed to the process because they actually have buy in into what is happening within your workplace.
So we have provided a hazard management checklist and this will provide you with some prompts to help with the process in identifying your hazards. You can add or delete relevant items to the checklist to suit your business and a template as you can see here on the screen has been provided to you but it will also be sent out in the email.
As with all of our templates they will be available on the Workplace Health and Safety Queensland website.
So that brings us to the end of the information that I have. So I'll now hand you back over to Ros who will go through the final information for you.
So if you would like to contact us for more assistance or information, or if you have any questions on specific issues we do have an email address which will give you direct access to the Agriculture Unit and that is email@example.com.
The first webinar is now up on the website www.worksafe.qld.gov.au and if you have any other queries please contact the infoline 1300 362 128 and ask for your query to be sent through to the Agriculture Unit.
We also have an eSafe. There are three rural eSafes each year and you can subscribe to that on our website. If you go to the website you'll look for that eSafe.
Details for registration for the next session will be up on the website and notified on OBE's Facebook page.
So I would like to thank you very much for attending today's webinar and we'll send out the slides and templates to everyone who registered as a follow up. We look forward to talking to you at the next session.
[End of Transcript]
This webinar will cover:
- developing a safe work procedure
- identify hazardous tasks
- complete a task analysis
- completing a safe work procedure
- safe systems of work checklist.
Download a copy of this film (ZIP/MP4, 149MB)
Serious about grazier safety webinar series
Step 3 – Safe systems of work
Brenton Garlick, Senior Project Officer, Compliance and Business Engagement, Workplace Health and Safety Queensland.
Welcome to the third webinar in our Serious about grazier safety series presented in conjunction with OBE Organic and Grazing BMP. I am Ros Rees, the Senior Project Officer with the Agriculture Unit of Workplace Health and Safety Queensland, your Facilitator for today.
Thank you for joining us for today's session which we'll be going through the third element of the safety management system - Safe Systems of Work.
The first webinar is on our website and I'll provide that address at the end of today's session. The second webinar will be there shortly and I'll let you know when that's available.
Just a reminder that although these webinars are focusing on beef production the principles of the safety management system can be applied to any industry sector.
Please send through any questions during the webinar and we'll endeavour to answer them at the end. Please also take a few minutes to complete the survey at the end of the webinar as it provides us with valuable feedback. Your presenter for today is Brenton Garlick, the Senior Project Officer in compliance and Business Engagement Unit of Workplace Health and Safety.
I'll now hand you over to Brenton.
Thanks for that Ros and welcome everyone again to the third webinar in this series. As Ros did say in today's session we will go through the third element of the safety management system and that is Safe Systems of Work.
This is the next step after you have completed your risk assessments but don't worry if you haven't heard the webinar and you haven't had time to do that. As Ros said, the recordings will be available for you shortly and we'll let you know when that is.
Okay, so one way of demonstrating safe systems of work is to have a safe work procedure. A safe work procedure provides directions on how work is to be carried out safely and it helps to identify hazards and risks and clarify what must be done to eliminate or minimise the risks.
First we'll start with a little background to best practice and the process behind managing risk in the workplace by understanding the why and the how.
So why do we use safe work procedures? As we know the legislation tells us that we need to manage risks in the workplace. Using safe work procedures helps to demonstrate the risk management. It helps to highlight the risks and the controls we are going to use, and it allows for a standardised work process and provides an effective tool for training and supervision. How should this be done?
When we look at best practice throughout the industry, we seek to identify the hazardous tasks and control them, we develop and implement safe work procedures, we involve your workers and the people in the workplace who actually do the tasks and make sure it's a collaborative process, and we follow and review your procedures to ensure they are the most effective.
So safe work procedures can also be known by many other names. They may also be referred to by a term such as Job Safety Analysis or JSA, they may be Job Hazard Analysis or a JHA or even a Standardised Operating Procedure or an SOP. That's just to name a few. You may have heard many other terms out there yourself when you're doing a job.
So when is a safe work procedure required? It's important to consider when you need written safe work procedures as you don't always need to have them for all your tasks. To determine whether you need them you should consider things such as how severe the consequences of an accident should be, how often the task is done and how complex the task is.
However we also need to make sure that written safe work procedures are required for such tasks where they are deemed to be a hazardous task, they may be complicated tasks, they may be frequently performed and less routine tasks for which workers may need to have reminders for.
Safe work procedures provide information to assist your workers and other people who come into your workplace to perform tasks, to perform those tasks safely as it is a way to identify the hazards involved and put into place ways to prevent an injury or illness occurring.
They are also a useful tool for training and supervising workers by providing them with the preferred way to safely perform the tasks or the activities.
Some of these procedures may seem like common sense but this depends on the experience of your workers or the people completing the tasks and they also still need to be documented.
So we're now going to talk through how to write or develop your safe work procedures for your workplace. So there are a number of steps to work through which we are going to identify in the next couple of slides for you.
So firstly you need to identify and prioritise tasks that you think will require the safe work procedures. You need to consider all your tasks or activities in the workplace and which of these would potentially cause harm if risks are not addressed. It's important that you consult with your workers or the people who come into your workplace and involve them in identifying and resolving safety issues.
You should start with the tasks or the activities that could cause more serious consequences first and work your way through the rest of the tasks. The guide to developing a Safe Work Procedure has been provided to you. This will also be sent out to you at the end of the webinar in a template and it is also available on our website.
So the next step is to set about developing your safe work procedures by analysing the task that you have in your workplace. It's important that you involve your workers and other people in the workplace in identifying and resolving any safety issues because they are the ones that are doing the work.
This will make sure that safe work procedures are most effective. Because the workers have helped developed them they will be readily taken on board and they will be more easily applied in the workplace.
Some of the ways you can consult with your workers and other people in the workplace include things like toolbox talks, organised meetings through a safety committee, they can be informal discussions such as over a cup of tea or during breaks as well as many other opportunities that you may have with your workers.
You need to identify the basic steps involved in any task or activity and the possible risks at each step. It's important to observe the tasks or the activity to ensure that you don't miss anything.
You should also seek information about the possible risks involved and work to control the risks. To do this you use the hierarchy of control which we discussed in the last webinar on risk management. This is also available in the Serious About Farm Safety Guide and also on our website.
So you need to look at each step involved in the task and identify what could go wrong, so identify the hazards and the risks. Then look at what can be done to control these hazards and risks.
So a template for a task analysis has been sent out to you. Again if you've not been able to download this it will be sent out to you at the end of the recording as well as on screen here you can see the task analysis template.
So this example of a task analysis is provided for operating a quad bike. As you'll see the three columns will help to analyse the task you are doing.
You'll see that the first column outlines the basic steps of the task. The next column details what can go wrong or the hazards and risks associated with each of those steps and the final column details what you can do about it which is then your control measures.
Some of the controls may only need to be done once, so these don't need to be part of an ongoing procedure for use such as if you're using another vehicle this can be taken out when documenting your safe work procedure.
Another document has been sent out to you and that is the Safe Systems of Work Process for Developing Safe Work Procedures. This was done with part of our small business program and it gives you those five steps in processing your safe work procedure and breaks it down into easy, manageable chunks. So we'll just go through those again while we're looking at the task analysis.
So number one is to list the hazardous tasks done in your business. Number two is to choose one of those hazards and do a task analysis. Number three is to choose the controls you were going to use from the 'What to do about it?' which is that controls column there, the third one you see on the screen. Number four is to apply the results of your task analysis throughout your safe work procedure and number five, choose your next hazard or task and repeat the prior steps.
So if we'll just go through and have a look at that task analysis in a bit more detail, as you can see steps of the task, the task we are doing is the operating of a quad bike. So the steps are things like selecting your vehicle, turning on and putting the vehicle into gear, ride to the designated paddock, muster your cattle while you're out there and then lastly, drive the herd to designated yards.
So what can go wrong when you're doing those tasks? So what are your hazards and what are your risks?
One of your first risks could be that the quad bike is damaged or badly maintained. You could be dealing with inexperienced riders. The quad bike obviously can overturn depending on the ground that you're riding on as well as things like sticks and rocks flicking up, sunburn and heat stress. If you have a look at that third column there, that just gives you some suggestions about how you actually control those hazards and the risks.
So the first thing you would do is maybe do a prestart check such as checking your fuel, tyres, guards, chain tension and brakes. At least that will tell you if the bike has been maintained or the quad bike has been maintained and if it actually fit for use.
So once you've written the task analysis you are ready to develop your safe work procedure as your safe work procedure does flow from the task analysis.
The items in the control column form the safe work procedure. So that's the third column that you've seen from the previous slide. In a hard copy if you've got this written down, you can fold the task analysis to take out the middle column, leaving the steps and procedures which was your column one and then the controls which is your column three. So this in effect is your safe work procedure.
You don't need to include hazards that you are able to eliminate, so just cross those out or delete them. Whatever remains is what people need to know to do the task safely. The remaining risks are then called your residual risks and they form the safe work procedure. So keep the layout and formatting clear and as simple as possible to follow.
When documenting the safe work procedure it's important that you ensure you're easy to read and follow. You can include diagrams and pictures to help explain the procedures and first you should set out the job procedures step by step and start each step with an action word. So for example instead of saying 'protective gloves are to be worn' be more decisive and say 'wear protective gloves'.
You should make sure the steps flow from one step to the next by putting the main ideas first and you should use point form as well as short and clear sentences. It's best to avoid repetition as well as jargon and acronyms or abbreviations where possible. Make sure you include white space to make it easy for the people to read.
So on screen here now this has been sent out and again we'll be able to send all of these templates to you at the end of the webinar. This is another simple format that can be used for your safe work procedure.
As you can see it is set out a little bit differently to the previous slide but it does still have all the same information.
Again, here is another example of the safe work procedure using some graphics which makes it a little bit easier to read if you're looking at it fairly quickly. These samples are in the Serious About Farm Safety Guide Templates which are on our website and the link will be sent to you at the end of this webinar.
So the next step is to make your safe work procedures easy to read and easy to locate. For example, if the task is done on a fixed piece of equipment, display the safe work procedure next to the equipment so it's easily accessible by all your workers or anyone who's actually doing the task.
You need to implement the safe work procedures through training, so that's through induction, task-specific training and any other relevant training that you do have in your workplace.
Finally, if the safe work procedures are not followed you need to consider your disciplinary action and how you are going to get your people to comply with the safe work procedures that you have in place.
So reviewing your safe work procedures - it's important that you continually review your safe work procedures so that they are current. Make sure it's done if there is an injury or near miss or if there are changes such as new equipment or associated processes.
It's also important to review your safe work procedures if there are any changes in the legislation, in the standards or the codes of practice or any change in technology as well as looking at where you're dealing with machinery and quad bikes, any manufacturer's instructions that come along with that.
In fact periodic review of all safe work procedures will ensure that they are current and up to date and as effective as they can be.
So the number of safe work procedures you have will depend on the nature and type of your work activities. You will have fewer safe work procedures in an office environment where there are very few high risk tasks as opposed to cattle production, farming, construction and manufacturing which are all high risk environments and encompass high risk activities.
As a recurring theme throughout all of the webinars and everything that we do here in workplace health and safety, we do emphasise consult with your workers or consult with people in the workplace. Now consultation is part of the legislation and it is a very important part of developing your safety management systems.
So involve your workers and people in the workplace who come on and assist you with your tasks in the processes of developing the safe work procedures to make sure that they have the opportunity to provide any input and any feedback.
So this will keep them engaged in the process and they will be more inclined to follow the procedures because they have been involved in developing them.
So in summary safe work procedures are a means of briefly documenting the risks associated with the work task and incorporating appropriate controls into a sequence of steps for doing the task safely. They ensure your workers are aware of the issues in their work tasks and outline how to avoid injury or illness while doing these tasks.
They are most effective when developed in consultation with your workers and they provide a useful tool for induction, training and supervising your workers. They should be reviewed if you have an incident at your workplace and if there are changes occur in the workplace as well.
We have also provided a guide to developing safe work procedures which provides an overview to this process. A safe work procedure checklist has been provided and this will ensure you have completed all the steps in the process.
So with the safe work procedures and the task analysis, as we have shown you in our slides, there are quite a number of different versions of that. You may have your own or you may like to use the ones that are provided by Workplace Health and Safety Queensland.
All those tools have been sent out to you via email, however if you've not been able to download those or been able to get those before the webinar, we will be able to send them out to you after the webinar as well as provide you with links to find these on the website.
So that's all the information that I have for you today. So what I'll do, I'll hand you back over to Ros so that we can start to look at any questions that we have.
So we have time for questions. So if you've got any questions send those through and we'll have a look at those for you.
Up on the screen now is all the contact information. So our web address is www.worksafe.qld.gov.au. The Infoline number is 1300 362 128 and we have a direct email address. So have any specific questions for your business or you'd like some particular information please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll respond to you and try to find out whatever information it is as quickly as I can.
A reminder to please take a few minutes to complete the survey that will pop up at the end of the webinar. We have three eSafes a year for rural and the next one is due out in September. So if you'd like to subscribe to the eSafe go onto our website and look for the link to that.
So thank you very much everyone for attending the webinar today and I will email everyone with the attachments in case you weren't able to download them. Please email me if you have any specific questions, otherwise we'll talk to you again on the 4th of October and thanks for attending today.
[End of Transcript]
Induction, training and supervision are an essential element to your employee’s safety. We talk about the importance of inductions, training and supervision and how to ensure they are being done properly at your workplace, as well as the necessary records to be kept.
Download a copy of this film (ZIP/MP4, 158MB)
Serious about grazier safety webinar series
Office of Industrial Relations
Workplace Health and Safety Queensland
Welcome to the fourth webinar in our series, Serious about grazier safety series presented in conjunction with OBE Organic and Grazing BMP.
My name is Brenton Garlick, Senior Project Officer in the Compliance and Business Engagement Unit of Workplace Health and Safety Queensland and I will be both your Facilitator and host for today's webinar.
Thank you for joining us for today's session which will be on the fourth element of the safety management system and that is induction, training and supervision.
The first three webinars are now live on our website and the address for where these can be found will be shown at the end of today's session as well as sent by email to anyone who has registered for today's session as well.
Please send any questions through at any time during the webinar and we will endeavour to answer them at the end. Please also take a few minutes to complete the survey at the end of the webinar as this provides us with valuable feedback about how we can tailor these services for the agricultural industry.
If you have any problems accessing this link please also let us know and we can email this to you. An email address will be provided to you at the end of today's session as well.
So again I'd like to welcome everyone to the fourth webinar in our series. For those of you who were not able to make the first three webinars that information is not mandatory prior to this webinar but you can go back and have a look at those webinars or refresh yourself with that information at a later date.
So as you can see on the screen here today's webinar is about the fourth step to your safety management system and that is induction, training and supervision.
So employers have an obligation under the legislation that they must provide their workers with any information, instruction and training and supervision to ensure their health and safety at work. Managers and supervisors should also be provided with the information, instruction and training that they need so they can ensure the health and safety of the people under their supervision.
The induction and training needs to be appropriate for the tasks being done and given in a way that the workers can understand the information. You may want to consider using diagrams and photos as part of this process as they are an easy and effective tool to assist people in understanding the information you are giving them.
If you employ migrant workers who may not have the greatest understanding of English, you might need to consider having the information translated as well.
An induction is the best way to make new workers both young and old, aware of how the business operates. It makes them aware of important procedures and how to manage workplace risks. You should document the procedures for new workers or contractors, workers transferring to a new job or location and workers that are undertaking a hazardous task for the first time.
Inductions are also a useful way to refresh workers moving to a new location in the business or going to operate a new machine for the first time. Workers who may have been on extended leave could also benefit from an induction refresher.
An induction process should also be completed for any visitors that come onto your property. An induction checklist will make sure you have covered all the necessary topics and make sure that the workers sign and date the checklist once they've completed it. Keep this as your record in the employee's file.
We have provided a sample induction checklist template and this is available as part of the Serious about Farm Safety Guide. Like all the templates that we are providing through this webinar series if you have trouble viewing this or if you did not receive it we will send them to you after the webinar via email.
We will have a look at the template on the next slide but before we do let's just go through some of the information an induction should include.
So when you're putting together your induction, the induction should describe the worker's role such as who to report to, the tasks that are to be done and the hours of work and pay rates. You may want to put on there the workplace layout such as location of facilities and first aid equipment, and the details of emergency plans, contact personnel and any equipment.
Detail the risks associated with the tasks in the workplace and provide details about the health and safety representatives if you have any, arrangements for consulting with the workers such as toolbox talks and the roles and responsibilities of key people involved in health and safety at your workplace. They should outline workplace policies and general rules such as housekeeping or keeping machinery guards in place, as well as specific rules. So that's things such as not using hazardous substances without first reading the safety data sheets and also any reporting requirements such as incident, injury and damaged equipment.
You should also include task-based training including all your safe work procedures and demonstrate the use of personal protective equipment, your PPE, and outline appropriate clothing that needs to be worn, as well as cover workers' compensation insurance and the business's return to work program.
So as you can see here in the screen in front of you, this is a screenshot of the first section of the induction checklist template which we have provided. It is only a template, so you are able to add or delete things which will make it more relevant to your business. When this is emailed to you and on our website it is provided in a word format so you can easily make amendments to that. So we'll just go through the different sections in there for you to have a look at.
So Section 1, it explains the health and safety laws. Section 2 is how to report an incident, injury or hazard, Section 3 is take a new worker for a workplace tour to show them all the facilities, Section 4 is how to complete manual task risks, Section 5 is how to deal with hazardous chemicals, Section 6 – how plant and equipment can be dangerous, Section 7 is about your safe work procedures in the workplace, Section 8 is all about your PPE, your personal protective equipment, Section 9 is workplace bullying and harassment, Section 10 is remote work and isolated work, Section 11 is the consultation process and Section 12 is all about your workers' compensation. Then as you will see, down the bottom you've got the signature and the date that both your supervisor or the employer as well as the worker when they've gone through that information.
So as you can see from that information there, there will be some elements that may not be relevant to your workplace and there may be some that are missing. So you can amend that template to make sure that it's suitable for your workplace specifically.
So particular attention should be given to young workers with limited experience or background in a rural environment for the task that they are doing. We know that the statistics show that one in four injuries are people aged between 25 and 34 in the agricultural industry and around 4,400 young workers between the age of 15 and 24 are injured at work in Queensland each year.
They may not be confident to ask questions, so it's important during the induction to make sure they understand the job that they are doing and that they are adequately supervised and made to feel comfortable about asking questions. Make sure they're comfortable to report hazards or discuss any issues they have as well.
The information needs to be supplied in different ways if you have young workers and especially those from non-English speaking backgrounds. So be sure to include photos, diagrams and practical demonstrations to make it easier for them to understand the instructions and the information that you are giving.
Your responsibility for seasonal workers and workers from a labour hire agency is just the same as any other employer. They also require induction, training and supervision.
But because they only work on your property for a short period of time, they are at a higher risk of injury because they have limited experience and knowledge of your property. If you use a labour hire agency, both the agency and you have duties to maintain the health and safety of the workers. When using a labour hire agency make sure you specify the tasks to be done, the skills and experience needed, appropriate clothing to be worn and any other special conditions or equipment to be used and also any licences that are required.
You and the labour hire agency are joint PCBUs in this situation and must consult and cooperate with each other as per the legislation.
It is also important to discuss your PPE as part of your induction. If you are using PPE to control the risk of injury you must follow the workplace health and safety regulation which discusses the provision, selection, maintenance and information on how to use it correctly. Relying on PPE alone will not reduce the risk of an incident occurring but it could reduce the severity of the injury. So for example a helmet could reduce the severity of a head injury to a rider of a quad bike but it would not prevent the incident from happening.
So an employer must manage the risk to health and safety for contractors just the same as they would for any other worker. Contractors need to be inducted at the same level as any new worker and also have a signed agreement. So that includes site specific induction for the contractor before they start work. The health and safety requirements of contractors are usually included in the contract document to ensure the work is carried out safely and according to any agreed procedures.
They must be suitably qualified and hold necessary licenses to carry out the intended work. So that's things such as a high risk work licence for operating a forklift or a chem cert if they are there to spray.
All machinery and equipment brought on site and used must be well maintained with all guards in place. As we said before there is a shared responsibility between the PCBU and the contractor who also employs workers. Remember the PCBU must consult, cooperate and coordinate with the contractor.
You should train your workers in your work procedures to ensure that they are able to perform the task safely. Training should require workers to demonstrate that they are competent in performing the tasks according to your procedures. Training will ensure that your workers know about issues that will affect their health and safety and it will provide your workers with information about potential risks associated with their work, the safety policies and procedures you have in place, how to work safely and how to deal with emergencies.
It is not sufficient to simply give a worker the procedures and ask them to acknowledge that they understand and are able to perform. Employers should identify and arrange the following - what specific training will be conducted for employees, when the training will be conducted, who will conduct the training, records of the training for the business and for each worker, review and revise the training plan at reasonable intervals and also keep copies of licences, certificates or other evidence of formal qualifications or competencies held by your employees.
Now training isn't just about the procedures. A worker should also be trained, instructed and have information about the safe and correct use of their PPE. If PPE is provided a worker must use it as per the instructions and training. Also remember to review your training information periodically to ensure that it is up to date and the most effective.
Now a simple template for a training register has been provided to you. Again it is on the screen. You can have a look at it there and we will send this out to you if you've been unable to download that.
So again you can make changes as needed to suit your business and your employees.
So make sure your workers sign the training register once they have completed any training. It is very important to keep records of training and licences. In the event of an incident this evidence could be vital to demonstrate your commitment to workplace health and safety and it will also assist with any investigations that may occur.
Now supervision will ensure that your policies and procedures are being followed, that non-compliances are addressed and rectified and provide a direct link from the employer to the worker. Good supervisors are essential for improving productivity and maintaining the safe work practices within your workplace.
The level of supervision required will depend on the level of risk and the experience of the workers involved. High levels of supervision are necessary where inexperienced workers are expected to follow new procedures or carry out difficult and critical tasks.
When determining adequacy you should consider the level of risk in the job, the age and experience and also the competence of the worker. You also should consider any of the existing controls in place to reduce the risk.
Maintaining records of supervision such as a diary note or team meeting minutes can help to promote consistent work practices. You can also consider spot checks. So stand back and watch your staff complete the tasks. You don't need to let them know that you're doing this beforehand because this will enable you to see them working naturally. This isn't designed to catch people out and get them in trouble, but more to see if complacency is creeping in. You may even find that there is a new and safer way of performing a task depending on what your workers are doing.
So to summarise the information that we have just gone through for the induction, training and supervision some key aspects and what you need to do is establish a safety induction process for all of your workers, review your training periodically, provide task specific training and provide adequate supervision, make sure that you continually assess your workers' competence and make sure you're also enforcing any procedures.
Keep your induction and training records and identify gaps in your training and supervision. The number one rule is continually improve your training.
So as we've emphasised in each of these webinars and this slide is very important in all the webinars so far, consultation is part of legislation and an important part of developing your safety management system. The more you consult with your workers the more buy in you'll have as this will enable your workers or your contractors, or even visitors to your property to take ownership of their own work and their own safety and also the safety of others around them.
Okay, so that's the end of the webinar today. So we will have some time for some questions. So while we wait for any of your questions to come through I'll just go over a few reminders for you.
So the completed webinars, they will be on the website over the coming weeks and that address where you can find that is www.worksafe.qld.gov.au and on the website there is a special site on there specifically for the agricultural industry.
Also a reminder to please take a few minutes to complete the survey at the end of this webinar to provide us with your feedback. This will show up just before you close your browser at the completion of the webinar and please subscribe to the eSafe newsletter through the website. There are three specific rural eSafes that are produced each year and they are sent out to you via email. If you're unable to subscribe they are also listed on our website. So you can go and view them at any time.
If you would like to contact us for more assistance or information or even if you have a question that's more specific to your workplace, please send an email to the address shown on the screen and that is email@example.com or phone 1300 362 128 and ask for your query to be sent through to the agricultural unit. We do have specific members of that unit who have extensive background knowledge in the agricultural industry and will be able to assist you further.
So details for registration for the next session in early November, they will be notified on the OBE Facebook page and on our website.
So we'll just check now to see if there are any questions that have come through and if there are we will be able to answer them for you.
Okay. One question's come through. So the question is:
Q: Can you please advise of any procedures for visitors to properties who are keen to help on farm or on stations?
So with any procedures I guess we don't have any specific procedures that we can send out. That's going to be very specific to your own workplace. The best place to start I would suggest is with the induction checklist that we've sent through to you. A lot of the induction information on there is also relevant to visitors who come onto the workplace and not just workers.
We do have the Serious about Farm Safety Guide which also does include a little bit of information on that as well. However if you want further information about specific procedures which are specific to your workplace depending on what type of property it is, my suggestion would be to get in contact with the agricultural team. They may have someone in your area who would be able to come out and either have a look at your property or give you a call and actually speak about what your property does so that they can help you tailor those procedures for you.
So number one, the first port of call I would say would be the induction checklist, the generic one that we have sent out to you. Then if you want anything more specific and more tailored, then I would suggest to contact the agricultural team direct and they'd be more than happy to assist you.
Okay. So another question's come through.
Q:Can we provide with template examples of diagrams for properties, layout and common hazards?
So for the common hazards, absolutely. There is some code of practice and also in our Serious about Farm Safety Guide there are a few codes of practice which do identify some common hazards that are common to the entire agricultural industry and also the beef industry. So we'll make a note of that and make sure that we send that out to everyone in today's webinar just so you've all got that.
In relation to diagrams for properties and the layout we don't have that, but I would suggest to maybe get in contact with your industry associations who may be able to help you with any diagrams that they've got for property using satellite technology.
Another one that's come through is:
Q:How can or should a cattle property induct chopper or plane contractors especially if they fly on and off a property for a specific mustering job without landing?
That is a tricky one especially in relation to pilots or chopper and plane pilots because they're not necessarily regulated under the Workplace Health and Safety Act. CASA, the Civil Aviation Authority, they also have a jurisdiction over pilots, both in choppers and on planes.
So it's probably best to do the general induction about the site induction with your property but anything in relation to their job is a little bit outside of the workplace health and safety jurisdiction.
Again we do have a few inspectors who do work quite closely with the beef cattle industry who are stationed up north and out west. For specific information about that above and beyond the general induction, I would suggest to maybe contact the agricultural team because they deal with the beef cattle farmers on a daily basis. So they may have some further information or know who you can contact to give you some further information about any specific induction requirements that you need for any pilots that may be contracting to you.
No worries. Well that looks like all the questions for today.
Again though, that email address that is on the screen, if you're going through this information again or even with any of the other webinars if you go back and do refreshers on them, if you do have any questions or any specific questions in relation to your property, please feel free to email that website. It's not a generic website. It does go straight to the Project Officer for the agricultural team. So you will get a personalised response. Or call the infoline number. Again it's 1300 362 128 and any one of our inspectors or project officers or advisors within the agricultural unit will be more than happy to get back in contact with you, either via email or by telephone. They can talk to you about your specific requirements for your property.
So if that's all the questions for today I want to thank you for attending today's webinar. We will send out the templates from today's session to everyone who registered in the next couple of days and I look forward to talking to you at the next webinar. That next webinar is on reporting safety and that is going to be held on Wednesday the 2nd of November.
So again, thank you everyone for tuning in.
[End of Transcript]
Step Five – Reporting Safety
Need to know how to properly report incidents and know what to report on?
In this webinar we step you through the process of knowing what injuries and incidents are reportable and how to involve your workers in the development of reporting systems and processes.
Download a copy of this film (ZIP/MP4, 150MB)
Serious about grazier safety webinar series
Office of Industrial Relations
Workplace Health and Safety Queensland
I am Ros Rees, the Senior Project Officer with the Agriculture Unit of Workplace Health and Safety Queensland, your Facilitator for today.
Thank you for joining us for today's session which will be going through the fifth element of the safety management system – Reporting Safety.
Please send any questions through at any time during the webinar and we will endeavour to answer them at the end. A short survey will pop up at the end of the webinar. Please take a few minutes to complete this as it provides us with valuable feedback.
Your presenter for today is Brenton Garlick, the Senior Project Officer in Compliance and Business Engagement Unit of Workplace Health and Safety Queensland.
Over to you Brenton.
Thanks Ros and welcome again to everyone for our fifth webinar in this series. Before we start on today's topic let's just briefly recap on the last session which we went through and that is Induction, training and supervision.
So to summarise Induction, training and supervision you need to make sure that you do the following.
You need to establish a safety induction process for all workers, review training periodically, provide task-specific training and provide adequate supervision, make sure you assess your workers' competence as well as enforce all your procedures, keep induction and training records, identify any gaps in your training and supervision and make sure that you're always continually improving your training as well.
It's also important to remember that contractors and seasonal labour hire workers should also be treated the same as any full time worker. Be especially aware of young, inexperienced workers and those with limited English. Make sure that they understand the information you are providing and you might need to look at different ways of presenting the information such as photos, diagrams, short films and even having the information sheets translated into other languages.
You also need to make sure that they feel secure and confident to come to you and ask questions and report anything to you as well.
So onto the next step in the safety management system and today's topic. As you can see on the slide there in front of you, it's number five and it's all about reporting safety.
Now reporting safety issues is a very important part in your workplace. There are those incidents which you are required to tell us about under the legislation and we refer to these as notifiable incidents. These notifiable incidents have definitions and we will go through these definitions shortly.
It is also important to report and record internally any other incidents and near misses that may not be deemed to be notifiable to Workplace Health and Safety Queensland.
There are many reasons for this including if an incident is to then escalate at a later date to one of the notifiable incidents, then you're going to want to have all the information as possible to make sure that you can provide that information and report it to Workplace Health and Safety Queensland.
If you have a spike in a specific incident or near miss then this can also prompt you to relook at safe work procedures which we covered in the webinar – Safe Systems of Work.
You may find that there is an error in the procedure or in the human behaviours, or you may find that there is just a better way of performing the task. You may even find fault with a piece of machinery and need to have this fixed or replaced.
So like all the safety topics so far we have a checklist for reporting safety. This has been sent to you via email prior to the webinar however it is available on the website and if you've not been able to get that we will make sure that we send this to you after today's webinar as well.
So on the screen you can now see a screenshot of what this checklist looks like.
So this checklist will give you a good indication about where you sit with your reporting inside the workplace. As always, not all questions on this checklist will be relevant to your business but it will give you a good idea of what you are doing well and what you may need to work on.
This checklist is also in a Word format, so if you need to amend this to make this specific to your business, when you download that you can certainly amend that as well.
So some things to consider when looking at this checklist are do you have a process in place for your workers to report any hazards that they identify? So this could be a whiteboard in the workshop, a book in the smoko room or even regular toolbox talks where safety is discussed. These meetings, they do need to be recorded somewhere and also a date to follow up needs to be noted.
You will also need a process for reporting an incident as part of work induction they need to be encouraged and supported to report hazards, near misses and incidents in the workplace.
Serious incidents need to be recorded under the legislation. As we said we'll go through those definitions shortly and minor incidents and near misses should also be recorded so this information can be used to review your systems of work practices to avoid any similar incidents in the future.
The reporting system will need to include what action was taken, who was responsible and also a date for completion.
The information provided in these reports will help to identify any trends or patterns of incidents that might be occurring and will also indicate where action needs to be taken for improvement and changes in the way jobs are done.
So notifiable incidents – Sections 35 to 39 of the Workplace Health and Safety Act sets out what sort of incidents are notifiable to Workplace Health and Safety Queensland.
So a notifiable incident means one of the following three – it's the death of a person, a serious injury or illness of a person or a dangerous incident.
So there is no need to explain the meaning of the death of a person as this is quite self-explanatory but we will go through and have a look at the definitions of the other two notifiable incidents.
So serious injury or illness.
A serious injury or illness requiring a person to seek immediate treatment as an inpatient in hospital is deemed to be a notifiable incident. So this includes immediate treatment for amputation, serious head or eye injury or serious head or eye laceration, serious burns, separation of skin and tissue which is commonly known as 'degloving' or a spinal injury or loss of bodily function.
Seeking treatment within 48 hours of exposure to a substance such as chemicals is also notifiable to Workplace Health and Safety Queensland.
Occupational zoonoses which are contracted in the course of employment are also notifiable and this is important in the agricultural industry where most of your people are exposed to animals and animal-related areas almost on a daily basis.
So having contact with animals, animal hides, skin, wool or hair, animal carcass or animal waste products have the potential to cause such zoonoses as Q Fever, Anthrax, Leptospirosis, Brucellosis, Hendra Virus, Avian Influenza and Psittacosis. So if any of these are contracted in the course of employment they are automatically deemed to be notifiable to Workplace Health and Safety Queensland.
So a dangerous incident.
A dangerous incident means an incident in relation to a workplace that exposes a worker or others to a serious health and safety risk. There is a comprehensive list in the Act but the ones which would most apply to the agricultural industry are as follows, and that is an uncontrolled escape, spillage or leakage of a substance such as chemicals and fuel, it can be an uncontrolled implosion, explosion or fire, it can also be an electric shock or the fall or release from a height of any plant, substance or thing, also the collapse or partial collapse of a structure and the collapse or failure of an excavation or of any shoring support of an excavation.
So if you refer to Section 37 of the Act that will give you further information as well as list the entire list for you.
The important thing to note there is that for the collapse or partial collapse of a structure, under the legislation 'structure' also has a certain meaning. So to have a look at what a structure is under the legislation, you need to refer to Schedule 5 under the Workplace Health and Safety Act.
So there are also reporting requirements under the Electrical Safety Act and also the regulations. So this includes a serious electrical incident and also a serious electrical event. A serious electrical incident is an incident involving electrical equipment where a person is killed by electricity or receives a shock or injury from electricity whether or not treated by a doctor.
So for further clarification on this you can find that under the Electrical Safety Act under Section 11.
Now for a dangerous electrical event that encompasses any event that takes place where a person is exposed to electrically unsafe areas and unsafe electrical work. There are six specific definitions for this which we won't go through today but for further information you can refer to the Electrical Safety Act under Section 12.
Now it is very important to note that unlike the Workplace Health and Safety Act which relates specifically to a workplace the Electrical Safety Act encompasses all electrical incidents whether or not they are in the workplace or are in the home.
Of course there are other notifications.
So the person conducting business or undertakings or the PCBU for short, are also required to notify Workplace Health and Safety Queensland of Asbestos removal work, demolition work or any incidents involving lead or hazardous chemicals. So if you are unsure if you fall into these categories then you can contact the Workplace Health and Safety Queensland infoline and they will be able to discuss this further and ask certain questions of you to see whether or not it is deemed to be notifiable.
So let's go through the steps for reporting the notifiable incidents to Workplace Health and Safety Queensland.
So the owner or manager is required to make the notification immediately after becoming aware that a notifiable incident has occurred. So the person conducting the business or undertaking must also keep a record of each notifiable incident for at least five years and notification must be by the fastest possible means. This is usually via a phone call to the infoline and that number which is on the screen is 1300 362 128.
You can also notify us in writing, whether it's by email, fax or other electronic means. Or you can also complete a form which can be found online at www.worksafe.qld.gov.au. The Workplace Health and Safety Queensland website outlines the options for completing the notification form and also gives you all the options for submitting this to WHSQ.
Again, just to reiterate that records of the incident, they must be kept for at least five years from the date of notification. So just to clarify with that, a notification, it may not be deemed to be a notifiable incident straight away as soon as the event occurs. Sometimes it may take one or two days for that to happen. So with your records, they must be kept for five years from the date of notification which may be different from the date of incident.
Now of course the previous slides we were talking all about how to report notifiable incidents. But as we now know not all incidents and near misses are deemed to be notifiable.
So on the screen in front of you now is an example of what an internal incident report form may look like. So this hopefully was sent out to you as well but it is available on our Workplace Health and Safety Queensland website and if you're unable to get that then we will certainly send this out to all participants at the end of the webinar today as well.
So as you can see on this form it has the people involved in the incident, the task that was being done at the time of the incident, it asks for what the contributing factors are and also what corrective actions have been taken, if any.
So keep this for future records in case any similar issues happen again.
So how do we ensure that all of our incidents and near misses are reported to avoid the incident escalating or causing further incidents?
Well the answer to this question is going to depend on you, your business and the people on your property, whether they're workers or visitors.
So this could be done as part of a toolbox talk or prestart meeting or simply by people coming up to you and telling you of any issues that they may have encountered. This is also good to demonstrate consultation with your workers which of course has been a recurring theme throughout all of the webinars so far.
But not all staff in all workplaces may be comfortable with doing this and not all business and property owners will be in the business 100 per cent of the time. So there may be times where you need to get creative with how you collect all of this information.
If staff aren't as forthcoming or if you are only available out of the normal working hours, maybe you can set up a ballot box where people can report incidents and near misses to you, whether with their name or even anonymously. When they see that these issues have been taken seriously and that they are being fixed, this could also help to improve the relationships on your property and people may feel more confident to come and speak to you in person.
You could ask the people involved to email issues through or even text them through to you as well. So this will give people lots of opportunities to report safety issues to you even if you are not there in person. Remember, the quicker something is reported to you the quicker it can be resolved.
So just to go through and summarise the information that we have been going through in the reporting safety, just make sure that you remember the following things. Always involve your workers in developing a safety reporting process and check that they understand this process. It's important with all our webinars that we've gone through and your safety management system that your workers fully understand their safety requirements.
Record your safety reports and encourage worker participation in reporting hazards that they identify as well as all near misses.
Use these safety reports to review policies and procedures including all safe work procedures and report accidents, injuries and illnesses which are deemed to be notifiable. You do have a requirement that they are reported as soon as they are notifiable and make sure you keep your records.
Also review and update your responsibilities periodically.
Of course look for continuous improvement and strive to increase your safety in your workplace.
Just to recap, remember that consultation is the key to get your people involved in safety practices and to have safe working environments.
So I'll hand you back over to Ros now who will go through some extra information for you.
Thanks very much Brenton.
During the information Brenton just provided to you we referred to some of the sections of the Workplace Health and Safety Act. These are available to find on our website and I'll give you that address shortly.
We've now been through the first five steps of the safety management system and the next session is scheduled for Tuesday the 6th of December and this will discuss health and wellbeing in the workplace.
Details for registration for this session will be notified through the OBE Facebook page and also on our website and Facebook page.
The final step in the safety management system – Workers compensation and return to work - will be presented early next year in two webinars by WorkCover Queensland.
Keep an eye on the OBE and Workplace Health and Safety Queensland Facebook pages for information about dates and registration details for these next sessions.
I'd also like to draw your attention to the resources that we have available.
We have a lot of resources on our website which are freely available for you to use. There are films, YouTube clips, guides, templates and other information.
I'd also like to let you know about the Ride ready webpage. The Ride ready webpage aims to reduce the rate of quad bike deaths and injuries and is part of the state-wide plan for improving quad bike safety in Queensland. The plan was developed by the Queensland Government as an initiative to raise awareness of the risks associated with quad bike use and improve rider safety skills.
So on this webpage you can find some information about the quad bike risk profile. You can watch the Ride ready advertisements. There's also some posters that you can download and these might be useful tools to put up throughout your workplace just to remind your workers about the dangers of riding a quad bike.
There's also a rider challenge – 'How ride ready are you?' There's an opportunity also for you to share your tips on quad bike safety. So go and have a look at those on our website and feel free to send in your tips.
All these resources can be used for toolbox talks, training and induction sessions. Showing one of the films followed by a discussion is a good way to get the conversation going about certain safety issues.
If you have any problems with accessing this information or you'd like a copy of one of the films on a CD, we can organise that for you as well.
So we have time for questions. So if there's any questions coming through we'll answer those shortly.
So up on the slide now there's the contact information. So our webpage again is www.worksafe.qld.gov.au and the infoline number 1300 362 128 and that's an important number for notifying incidents as discussed today.
We also have a dedicated email address – firstname.lastname@example.org and you're welcome to send an email through to that and I'll respond to you as soon as I can. So if you need any assistance, need information or copies of those films or information, just send an email to that address and I'll organise to send that out for you.
You also have three rural eSafes per year and you can subscribe to the eSafes through our website. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
I'll send out the templates from today's session via email to everyone who registered for today and remember the next session is on health and wellbeing in the workplace and this is scheduled for Tuesday the 6th of December.
The information for registering will be on the OBE Organics and our Facebook pages and our website.
So thank you very much for attending today's webinar and please contact us if you would like any more information. We'd be very pleased to hear from you and we look forward to helping you out. We look forward to speaking to you at the next webinar session.
Now Ros we don't seem to have any questions coming through but I just wanted to reiterate that with the sections of the Act that we have mentioned, some of them are on the slides and some aren't. So I'll make sure that we specifically give you those sections in the follow-up email as well as exactly what those sections of the Act mean.
Again as Ros said, if you do have any questions after the webinar or after you go back and review any of the other webinars that are on the website, you can certainly send through those questions at a later date to the agricultural email address that you have on the screen.
Excellent. So if there's no further questions, there doesn't seem to be any coming through, so I think that might be the end of it Ros?
Okay. Thanks very much Brenton and thanks everyone. We'll talk to you again at the next webinar.
[End of Transcript]
Healthy, happy workers are productive workers.
This webinar introduces you to an interactive tool that will assist you in promoting the health and wellbeing of your workforce and contribute to sustained productivity that will benefit your business.
Download a copy of this film (ZIP/MP4, 346 MB)
Office of Industrial Relations
Workplace Health and Safety Queensland
Good afternoon and welcome to the sixth webinar in our Serious about grazier safety series presented in conjunction with OBE Organic and Grazing BMP.
My name is Ros Rees and I am your Facilitator for today.
Thanks for joining us for today's session which will be going through the sixth element of a health and safety wellbeing management system, maintaining and improving the health and wellbeing of workers.
The first five webinars are now live on our website and I will provide that address at the end of today's session.
Please send any questions through at any time during the webinar and we'll endeavour to answer them at the end.
Please also take a few minutes to complete the survey at the end of the webinar. It provides us with valuable feedback. Any problems with accessing this link please let me know. An email address will be provided later.
Your Presenter today is Alison Abbott, the Senior Advisor with the Healthy Workers Initiative Unit of Workplace Health and Safety Queensland.
The Healthy Workers Initiative Unit is comprised of advisors who have a background in health, giving them the experience to provide support to businesses to help them create safe and productive workplaces. They focus on health and wellbeing initiatives that will maintain or improve the health of workers.
With the Healthy Worker Initiative Unit working within the regulatory framework of Workplace Health and Safety Queensland it is in a unique position to reduce injury and improve return to work outcomes by adopting a preventative risk management approach to addressing chronic disease factors in the workplace.
Alison will talk about chronic disease risk factors shortly.
I'll now hand you over to Alison.
Thank you Ros. Welcome everyone to this session.
This webinar will build on the previous webinars which took you through a safety management system for health and safety and as Ros said, today's webinar topic is about broadening the health in health and safety and taking a more holistic approach to workers' health. We will look at why we need to acknowledge worker health as part of a good business system and what you can do in the workplace to maintain and improve the health of yourself and workers and ultimately, strengthen your bottom line and productivity.
The same risk management approach to addressing safety can be used and from the diagram on the slide you will see that by broadening the health and safety to include the wellbeing of workers into your existing policies and procedures, focusing on the workplace environment and having a positive workplace culture and including the health of workers as part of your core business we have found that businesses can increase their productivity through less sick days and the reduction in workers' compensation claims.
Ensuring workers increase their knowledge and skills of healthy lifestyle choices is important but you can see that if you just focus on education alone your reach is limited to those who are interested. But if you create the healthy workplace by ensuring workplace policies and the physical and cultural environment supports good health then all workers will benefit.
If you create a healthy workplace this way you will find that the culture will change so it becomes normal and is just the way you do things at your workplace. This approach is much more effective and sustainable over the long term. We know that caring about the health of workers increases their morale and engagement which creates more motivated and productive workers.
So today I will take you through an evidence-based, five-step framework that has been tried and tested with farms. The five steps are described in the resource you see on the screen – the LIVE well FARM well Planning Guide. This Planning Guide with accompanying tools and templates was developed in consultation with horticulture farmers but this resource is suitable for all farms and small businesses.
The main point to make here is that it features the five steps that are undertaken as part of the overall planning, delivering and evaluating a health and wellbeing program in your business, then your program will be more comprehensive and outcomes are more likely to be positive and sustainable.
So similar to the Serious About Farm Safety Management Systems we need to ensure we have management commitment. Management have a duty of care to ensure the health and safety of workers and workers have the responsibility of being active in their own health and safety as well as their co‑workers.
Support and endorsement from management is critical for the implementation and success of any health initiative. You will find that managers who provide resources, whether it's time or money, and who walk the talk in relation to good, healthy behaviours and are willing to consult and communicate with workers demonstrate their commitment to creating a healthy workplace for their workers.
As with consultation and coordination in safety management systems the same strategy applies when addressing the health and wellbeing of workers. They need to know what you need or want to change, what the main health priorities of your workforce are but also what's already working well and workers are in the unique position to provide ideas and feedback on this.
Assessing the health risks of workers and how the workplace environment is impacting on their health, whether positively or negatively is an important step in the process. The information collected from this activity will inform your priorities and help you decide the type of activities and interventions that you can deliver that are reasonable and achievable. Taking action to control the identified risks doesn't need to be costly but does need some dedicated time and effort.
However if you have a few interested workers or champions to promote what you are doing, they can become part of the committee or working group dedicated to health, safety and wellbeing in the workplace.
Reviewing or evaluating your activities is often an element that's not done well in workplaces yet is one of the most important steps. How do you know if your efforts and environmental changes have been effective? It's important to find out what has worked well and what didn't work so well and so improvements can be made. It's also a good way to get recognition from management if you can show that what you are doing is making a difference to people’s lives and increasing workforce morale and productivity.
I will show you the tools and templates hyperlinked to this resource and provide some examples of how farms have used these tools to create healthy workplaces and as I said, you don't have to do this alone. We have advisors that can help you along the way. But firstly why has Workplace Health and Safety Queensland got a focus on improving the health and wellbeing of workers?
This slide gives a snapshot of the health of the Queensland population with statistics taken from the latest Chief Health Officer report and the key points from this report are that we are living longer but the quality of life and health of people with some chronic conditions isn't optimal. We have an ageing workforce and this will grow. Forty-seven percent of agricultural workers are over 55 years of age and the incidence of chronic disease and musculoskeletal injuries are higher in this group. The time it takes to return to work is often longer.
In relation to alcohol and drugs we have seen a decline in smoking rates in urban areas but in the more regional, rural and remote areas smoking rates are still high. Research is showing us that those working in the farming industry are more likely to drink at risky levels.
After an increase in obesity levels over the last six years the rates are now plateauing which is a good thing, however we have a high prevalence of overweight and obesity in rural and remote areas of Queensland. Two thirds of the Queensland population are overweight or obese and 60 per cent of obese individuals are in the workforce still. Obesity is linked to heart disease, Type 2 Diabetes and some cancers, and these are the chronic diseases we are addressing. Our aim is to reduce the rates of these and the number of hospitalisations and illnesses associated with these diseases.
So if we can improve the main lifestyle risk factors that contribute to chronic illnesses which are smoking, poor nutrition, risky alcohol consumption and lack of enough physical activity for health benefits, we can make workers and the overall population healthier and more productive. The Queensland Cancer Council have advised us that we could cut the rates of some cancers by a third if we can reduce these risk factors.
In relation to nutrition and healthy diets which is one of the risk factors, only one in two Queenslanders eat the recommended two servings of fruit each day and only one in 10 eat the recommended five servings of vegetables. So you can see here that there is room for improvement.
Poor lifestyle choices not only affect individuals but also has impacts on their families, work colleagues and the community at large. In relation to mental health and wellbeing anxiety and depressive disorders make up two of the largest specific causes of disability. So if you think about it as having 10 employees, two of those may suffer from a mental health disorder at some stage in their lifetime and that will affect not only their home life but how they cope at work. Research has shown that males living in rural and remote areas are less likely to seek assistance for physical and mental conditions and this is partly due to the lower access and usage of services than those living in urban settings. The chronic stress and limited social interaction can also increase the risk of psychological distress.
So what are the risk factors for workers in the agricultural industry?
Well this slide has national data that compares the health of workers in agricultural industries to the national population. Agricultural workers have similar health risk factors as other industries in the overall Queensland population showing that smoking rates are dropping but in relation to good nutrition, physical activity levels and healthy weight levels and risky alcohol consumption, they are above the national average.
Research is also showing that male farmers and farm managers experience higher death rates from coronary artery disease and certain cancers, respiratory diseases such as chronic asthma and bronchial infections, stress, depression and some other mental health issues. Often in the small farming industries when the owner is not well, the business can suffer. So we are advocating for looking after yourself and your workers the way you look after your crops and your livestock.
So how does the health of an individual impact on business and at the workplace?
You can see the statistic in the top left hand box on the slide that shows smokers have an increased rate of injury due to poorer circulation and decreased oxygen delivery to the muscles. They also have an increased risk of heart and circulatory diseases and lung cancer. In the top right and bottom left diagonal boxes you see that workers who are not in a healthy weight range are more at risk of sustaining an injury and take longer to recover.
We need to acknowledge here that there are personal factors and work-related factors that contribute to an individual's overall health and wellbeing. Take for example a person who may be overweight or obese, possibly because of their genetics, their level of education or income levels and some of these factors we can't control in the workplace apart from increasing their knowledge and skills but these personal factors can impact on the health and safety behaviours of the worker.
If we concentrate on creating a healthy workplace however where we acknowledge and address the workplace factors that contribute to the health and safety of workers such as long working hours, work demands, ensuring workers have access to healthy foods and proper meal breaks, opportunities to be active if they have sedentary occupations, and changing the culture from eating nutritionally poor food to eating more healthy choices, then we can start to positively influence safety and wellbeing behaviours and ultimately business outcomes.
So now we will go through the LIVE well FARM well Planning Guide tools and templates.
As previously mentioned gaining management commitment is essential. By conducting the Healthy farm scan shown in the slide at your workplace you can get a picture of the characteristics of your work site that is either supporting or not supporting the health of workers and this can create the rationale of why you would want to address the health and wellbeing of workers.
It asks questions on the type of physical infrastructure that is in your workplace that supports worker health including your business systems and procedures so you can then build on what you already have and it also gives you ideas on the types of strategies that can be incorporated into your workplace and management systems.
If you have a number of work sites where workers are based it's a good idea to have someone at each work site undertake this scan and when it comes to reviewing the actions you've taken this tool can be used as your baseline information. One to two years down the track it can be conducted again and you would see what changes have been made.
This small but effective exercise can assist your planning and give momentum for further action that could either be low cost or no cost to the business.
Planning, consultation and coordination go hand in hand. An integrated workplace health, safety and wellbeing program that has a number of interested people involved in the planning, delivery and monitoring of strategies are more successful over the long term. As with the delivery of any program or system it's more successfully carried out if there's a person responsible for leading or overseeing the key tasks.
Communication with workers and getting ownership and input from them will create more interest in what you are trying to achieve. This step is about who you need to drive and support the program and how you will communicate with workers.
If you farm has itinerant workers or backpackers some of these workers may have expertise say in nutrition, be personal trainers or health professionals who could provide education and guidance to your program.
The top two pictures in this slide are set in a workplace where management accessed two of their backpacker workers with expertise in nutrition and physical activity. The Nutritionist provided a healthy eating education seminar and the Personal Trainer had workers undertake a physical activity workout.
A number of farms in North Queensland access their local health service providers to undertake a health needs assessment of workers which showed each worker their chronic disease health risks in relation to their weight, their diet, their levels of physical activity and smoking and drinking habits. This activity can be a good way to start the healthy workforce conversation as workers will be more aware of their risks and the type of actions they could take to improve their health.
So you can see that by implementing activities it doesn't need to be expensive. The main resource you may need to supply is worker time.
Step 3 is undertaking a needs assessment and is one of the most important steps in this framework. It not only raises awareness amongst workers and their positive or negative health behaviours and can encourage them to think differently and change their behaviour, but the process can contribute to an improved health culture and outcomes over the long term.
It also gives management the opportunity to take a step back and consider the noticeable health issues of the farm and their priorities.
If you have a culture of open and transparent communication or just starting out on the journey of addressing worker health, the discussion tool for small groups is one way of starting the conversation. This tool shown in the slide asks workers what area of their health they would like to improve and gives you an indication of their commitment to supporting health and wellbeing activities. If your workers are literate in English and would prefer more privacy this tool could be used in a written questionnaire format.
If you have a range of permanent, itinerant and seasonal staff or a variety in ages you may need to consider if the health issues are the same for each group or some groups have different needs and interests. What management want to get out of the program should also be considered.
Alternatively if you're a larger farm or business and workers have access to computers or iPads then the online Healthier Happier Workplaces Healthy People Survey could be completed by each worker. They will need to be literate in English to use this tool or get some assistance to complete it. The benefits of using the Healthy People Survey is that it provides an aggregated report that gives you a picture of the health of your staff and highlights the main chronic disease risk factors that could be addressed. The link for the survey tool is displayed on the slide.
Or you can develop your own survey or have a brainstorm at lunch time. These times are good for two-way conversations between management and workers. A large pastoral company in Queensland developed their own health and wellbeing survey which was completed by staff at all their properties. The information was analysed and key health risks presented to management along with some suggested strategies to address the priorities of smoking and nutrition.
They implemented the free Quit Line Workplace Quit Smoking Program which is still being offered to workers and encouraged healthy choices through the ample supply of fresh fruit and vegetables. The company organised events where a large portion of their workers could come together and also participate in voluntary mental health and wellbeing checks which were run by the Royal Flying Doctor Service and local health clinics.
Workers were provided with health education and referred to medical professionals where health conditions requiring follow-up were identified.
At these events the key messages about healthy nutritional choices, quit smoking programs and sun safety were reinforced with written and verbal information and healthy food choices being provided at the events. The health and wellbeing program has been supported by management for the last three years and health and wellbeing activities provided throughout the years.
More recently the company placed a higher focus on mental health and wellbeing and conducted a survey to measure the mental health status within the workforce.
They responded to the results of the survey by engaging with the Black Dog Institute to present information to managers on how to identify and deal with symptoms of mental disorders.
The company is now planning to take a more holistic approach to address employee health and wellbeing into the future by rolling out programs that address the key risk areas identified. Upper level management support has been a key to drive the success of these programs.
Step 4 is your action plan which will outline all of the activities that you want to do over a period of time. It should outline what you are going to do, when you are going to do it and who will be responsible for making it happen.
Prioritising the most important issues relevant to your business and workers and considering the resources you have on hand can get you started.
The action plan template on the slide is provided for you to use as part of the LIVE well FARM well Planning Guide. There are examples of activities that might work on your farm or you can input your own particular activities. An important aspect to consider at this step is that if you provide education on healthy lifestyle behaviours to your workers then the workplace is supporting that behaviour you want to change. For example if you have an education session on health and nutrition you need to ensure that meals provided to workers are healthy or the nutritious choices from the vending machine outweigh those that are not. If you hold workplace events then the majority of food provided is supporting the education they have been given.
You may also want to ensure workers have the facilities to prepare food and store it until meal breaks and have an area to eat which is smoke free.
Similarly if you have alcohol and drug testing then workers are provided with information on where they can get help if they experience a problem with alcohol or drugs. If you have a policy around alcohol and drugs then that is communicated to workers and what actions and/or support is expected from the business to help them.
Step 5 is the ongoing process of monitoring and reviewing your program. It doesn't just happen at the end and is a very important part of the process. Checking to see if your time and effort that you invested in the health of workers is producing positive outcomes is critical for ongoing engagement and support from management. Your healthy farm scan and results of the initial needs assessment can form the baseline information. By conducting these again 12 months to two years down the track, it will make it easier to compare changes in the health behaviours of workers and if you've made any changes in the workplace environment that support them in choosing the healthy lifestyle choices.
On the back of the Action Plan template within the resource you will find some examples of evaluation questions you could use to measure activities, but of course the questions you ask will be relevant to the actions you have taken. As this step can be quite daunting for some workplaces the healthy workers advisors can assist you with this step too.
I am now going to talk about the project which resulted in the development of the LIVE well FARM well resource where five farms and a total of 710 workers and 15 different work sites took part. A voluntary needs assessment conducted by local health professionals was conducted and the priorities of managers and workers identified before they spoke about an action plan.
The main risk factors identified were smoking, unhealthy food and drinking choices in the vending machines, unhealthy weight amongst some workers and lack of physical activity, particularly those in packing sheds.
As you can see in this slide the farms made sure they addressed issues in the physical and cultural environment as well as increasing the health, knowledge and skills of workers.
Over an 18 month period there were some significant changes in the knowledge and behaviours of workers towards more healthy lifestyles. A whopping 66 per cent reduced their risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes by being made aware of their risk factors, increased knowledge and awareness of what's healthy and what's not, reducing smoking and being more active.
Some of the farms integrated wellbeing into their health and safety policy and others chose to have a separate health and wellbeing policy. An example of that policy is included in the LIVE well FARM well resource.
What also contributed to the sustainability of the program at these workplaces was the positive changes in managers' attitudes regarding their perceived role in the health and wellbeing of their staff. At the beginning of the project less than a quarter perceived they had a role in addressing the health and wellbeing of workers. Post evaluation however showed that 100 per cent believed they could have a role and could see the benefits of doing so.
So some farms removed their vending machines or liaised with the providers to increase the amount of healthy food and drink options. Farms also started to provide healthier food choices at gatherings and celebrations to support that consistent message with the education that was being delivered to the workers.
By going through the five step process two farms achieved Healthier Happier Workplace Bronze recognition and were highly commended in the Queensland Work Safe Awards in the Best Workplace Health and Wellbeing category and this achievement can support them in promoting their workplace as an employer of choice.
Another project which our Queensland peak body also had some good outcomes by engaging with managers and workers. Turf growers are largely made up of small and medium sized businesses with not a lot of spare time on their hands so it's essential that their health and wellbeing activities are integrated into their everyday processes and systems.
They included information on healthy lifestyle behaviours through their toolbox talks or social events and delivered education relevant to their workers' needs, for example financial budgeting advice and using their local banks to deliver these.
They also reviewed their policies and if they didn't already have a no smoking policy, introduced one and offered quit smoking information to workers.
Sun safety strategies were integrated into their health and safety systems and they supported the information they were providing on healthy eating by ensuring there were healthy food choices at morning teas and catered events.
Again you will see the pattern of ensuring environment and organisational systems are supporting the behaviour change of workers.
Over a period of time and with support from the Turf Queensland peak body some farms saw an increase in the number of workers making changes resulting in less smokers or reducing the amount of cigarettes they smoked each day. In the top picture you can see that they promoted taking time from sitting in machinery to doing some stretching exercises with the resources they have on hand.
The improvement in team morale with some workplaces has kept up the momentum of workers and managers being interested in supporting health and wellbeing activities in this industry.
So in summary I hope you can envisage the opportunity that your farm could integrate in the health and wellbeing of your staff into your current systems, whether it's safety, quality improvement or if you're a larger business, your HR processes.
The similar steps to managing a safety system applies. Without management acknowledgement, commitment and leadership by walking the talk your wellbeing program will not be sustainable or as effective.
Activities or programs don't have to be costly but they need time and effort. So management commitment to these resources is required.
Consultation and coordination is key to understanding the needs of the business and workers before you can prioritise and plan for activities. The need for continual communication and consultation is paramount to get feedback and ongoing engagement from all workers.
Undertaking an audit will identify the resources you already have and what needs to be changed within your current workplace environment systems. A strategy for finding out the health needs and interests of workers is essential to help you identify priorities and ensure any strategies you put in place are relevant and achievable.
Monitoring and reviewing is usually the step that's not done well. However, if you have a process in place to evaluate how effective your actions have been, whether they are sustainable, what changes have occurred from your efforts, then the results of these questions certainly adds value for all workers, managers, supervisors and co-workers. They can provide motivation for continuing the program or create discussion on what was good about the activities and changes made in the workplace, and what could be improved.
So within the LIVE well FARM well Planning Guide are the tools and templates we have gone through and all you need for planning, delivering and evaluating a health and wellbeing program at your workplace.
The Health and Wellbeing Policy template can be developed on its own or you can use some of the wording in your current policies and procedures. The Healthy Farm Scan which is the audit tool to check what you already have in place to support healthy lifestyle behaviours at work and gives an idea of what could be implemented.
The healthy people discussion questions start the conversation and identify the health risks and interests of all workers. An action plan template to plan your activities and how you will review them with examples of evaluation questions on the back.
There are also five webinars which cover all the lifestyle chronic disease risk factors, for example smoking, poor nutrition, risky alcohol consumption, physical inactivity and mental health and how to address them, and two videos from two banana farms who delivered a health and wellbeing program on their farms.
The link to access these resources is via the growcom website and the link is displayed at the bottom of the slide.
There are a number of free or fee for service programs available to assist you and of course the healthy workers advisors can give you more information on these. There are three free programs under the Healthier Happier Workplaces initiative and that is the Workplace Quit Smoking Program operated by the Queensland Health Quit Line which is achieving good returns on investment in reducing the number of workers who smoke, the get healthy Information and Coaching Service which focuses on increasing healthy eating practises and physical activity levels among individuals, and the 10,000 Steps workplace website provides all the resources you would need except pedometers for workers to implement a physical activity challenge.
Some of the non-government agencies also have workplace programs. So you can either look on their websites or give us a call for information on what they can offer.
Thank you very much for joining me today. I hope it was informative and useful to you.
I'll now hand you back to Ros.
Thanks very much Alison.
So please contact us to have a chat about your ideas any time. There's plenty of free advice available by the phone or email or if it’s possible they can do workplace consultations as well.
So on the next slide there are the contact details and you'll see there's a dedicated email address for the email@example.com or give them a call on the number 1300 362 128.
We have time for some questions now and here's a question Alison for you.
Q: If we didn't have time to do all the five steps which do you think is the most important to start with?
Thanks Ros. Good question because farms don't have a lot of time.
As with any program the planning process is the most important. So that includes having your management commitment and why you would want to create a healthy workplace but also endorsement for following the process and seeing it through to the end.
So the risk assessment and the needs assessment set is also very important. To start workplaces would offer one-off ad hoc activities to engage workers in healthy lifestyle behaviours such as a weight loss or physical activity challenge. They can definitely get people engaged and thinking about their health, but unless you find out what your risks and needs are as well as workers' interests, you may put programs in place that are not taken up and a waste of effort and time.
So I would suggest conducting the Healthy Farm Scan and some form of communicating with workers and managers to find out what their needs and interests are to decide on your priorities. Then this process starts the conversation which can lead to the engagement and idea of some people putting up their hand to be involved. So that would be my recommendations.
Thanks Alison and so another question here.
Q: What type of resources and services are available for farms in really remote areas?
Well in relation to the information, if you want information for workers, if you have access to the internet there are a number of government and non-government agencies that can provide brochures and posters but also a number of apps that people can download to assess their health and give ideas on healthy lifestyle behaviours and choices. The Healthy Workers Unit has a resource sheet with contact details for some of these organisations and we can send that out to everyone after the webinar.
In relation to creating a healthy workplace it's really about auditing the work environment. If you have an alcohol and drug policy for example, do workers know about it? Do they have input into its review? Are you complying with the tobacco legislation and ensure there's a designated smoking area so passive smoking's not an issue where people are eating or socialising? Is there a policy about providing only a certain amount of alcohol at functions or social events or after work? So it's about auditing these sort of things.
What do you do in relation to injured workers? Can you give them meaningful work or ensure you are working with your insurer or medical services to put them on a pathway of recovery and better health? Do they have a say on this? So what systems do you already have in place?
Another example might be is the food provided meeting the dietary guidelines? Comfort food which a lot of people want when they're socially isolated, can still be healthy depending on how it's cooked and again the Healthy Workers Unit can provide resources to assist with this or Nutrition Australia are really good at assisting with developing a healthy food and drink policy that is relevant to your workforce.
So some resources are scarce in remote areas but country people are used to making the best of what they have. So having a conversation with management and workers on what their interests and needs are I'm sure will come up with some really good solutions.
I've just got another question here.
Q: What are some different ways that you can communicate or consult that are fun or different?
Well it depends on your workplace but within the agricultural setting people get together. It's a good idea. I know at often lunch times, lunch time meetings, toolbox talk meetings and your safety meetings that's a good time to do it. You have to get your supervisors on board so they can communicate with workers on an ongoing basis and they need to be involved at all stages of your program.
You can have competitions where you can give some prizes for people to give some ideas. It's really consulting with your workers and getting some of their ideas as well. But social media of course for young people is a good way to communicate these days as well.
Okay. Thanks Alison.
Now it's always bringing up a challenge between different workplaces or people, groups within a workplace is always one way of getting people going as well.
So that brings us to the end of our presentation today. Thanks for joining us.
The completed webinars will be on our website www.worksafe.qld.gov.au over the coming weeks and they'll be up there with all the other webinars we've previously presented.
Don't forget about taking a few minutes to complete the survey that pops up at the end.
Other ways you can keep in touch with the information and keep in touch with us is to subscribe to the eSafe through our website. There are also three rural dedicated eSafes each year and we highlight agricultural businesses who are promoting the health and wellbeing of their workers in these.
We also promote health services and programs suitable for agriculture businesses.
So if you'd like to contact us for more assistance or information or if you have any questions specific for your workplace please don't hesitate to send an email to the address shown at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 1300 362 128 and ask for your query to be sent to the Healthy Worker Unit Initiative.
So for any workplace health and safety queries just a reminder that we also have a specific email address. It's email@example.com and we'd be very happy to answer your individual questions and send out any resources that you might need.
So we will send out the templates and information from today's session to everyone who registered in the next few days.
Thanks everyone for attending today.
[End of Transcript]
This webinar covers the basics of working with WorkCover Queensland, who you need to cover, how your premium is calculated and what happens in the event of an injury. The webinar includes information about the development and progression of suitable duties and returning to work.
Download a copy of this film (ZIP/MP4, 212MB)
Serious about grazier safety webinar series
Ros Rees and Courtney Lane
Welcome to the seventh webinar in our Serious about grazier safety series presented in conjunction with OBE Organic and Grazing BMP.
My name is Ros Rees and I am your Facilitator for today.
The first six webinars in our series are now live on our website and I'll provide that address at the end of today's session.
Please send any questions through at any time during the webinar and we'll endeavour to answer those at the end.
Please also take a few minutes to complete the survey which will pop up at the end of the webinar. It provides us with valuable feedback. Any problems with accessing this link also let me know and I'll provide an email address at the end.
Thank you for joining us for today's session which will be going through Working with WorkCover.
Your Presenter for today is Courtney Lane, a Customer Advisor working in the agriculture industry at WorkCover Queensland.
Over to you now Courtney.
Good afternoon. My name is Courtney Lane and I am one of the customer advisors in the agricultural industry at WorkCover Queensland. I look after the majority of claims and employers within beef feedlots and piggeries in Queensland. I have a background in Occupational Therapy and will be speaking to you today about a little of who we are at WorkCover, who a policy needs to cover and what to do in the event of a claim.
To start with WorkCover Queensland is a statutory body that sits under the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations. We work closely with Workplace Health and Safety Queensland and our decisions are overseen by the Workers' Compensation Regulator. We share a joint website – worksafe.qld.gov.au and call centre to make it easier for Queenslanders to get information about safety and workers' compensation issues.
Under the Workers' Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 all businesses with workers are required to hold a valid insurance policy with WorkCover Queensland for those workers, with the exception of those businesses granted self-insurance. We are proud to have the lowest average premium rate in Australia, ensuring the best cover for our workers at the lowest cost to our employers.
So who should you cover?
A change in the workers' compensation legislation came into effect on the 1st of July 2013 bringing WorkCover Queensland's definition of a 'worker' into alignment with the Australian Taxation Office. This covers Pay As You Go or PAYG employees and those deemed workers under select contracts of service. A person or individual can also be a worker even if they hold an ABN or are responsible for their own tax.
It is important to make sure that you are declaring wages for any workers and also to make sure that you aren't declaring wages for anyone that may not be covered. This includes, people can be workers even if they are paid as room and board or other goods in lieu of wages.
This is a brief rundown of who is covered under your WorkCover policy. Comprehensive information is available on our website under 'Insurance – Do I need a policy?'
When looking at who to cover there are many criteria, however I will run through the ones most commonly seen within the beef industry. To start with a worker needs to be an individual, so it can't be a member of a business or a company, someone who is working under a contract of service, a Pay As You Go employee or perhaps a share farmer if they do not provide farming machinery and receive no more than a third of the farm proceeds. Should they receive more than this they are not classified as a worker.
There are also specific exclusions which are important to note, namely directors of a company, trustees, partners in a partnership or someone with a personal services business determination or PSBD from the ATO. These are not common and if someone has one they will let you know.
The easiest way to determine if someone is a worker or a contractor is to utilise the Employee/Contractor Decision Tool on the ATO website. It is simple and easy to use and can assist with classifying whether someone is a worker or contractor and therefore whether you need to declare wages for them.
It can also be beneficial to review the tool when employing to know whether the employee is likely to be a worker or contractor for insurance purposes. If you are unsure I am always happy to run through the tool with you. My contact details will be on the slide at the end and you are welcome to call or email.
We will now run through an example commonly seen within the beef industry.
So a musterer is quite common and they may be commonly contracted during the season.
When considering whether a musterer is an employee or a contractor, the things to consider is that they will often operate under their own ABN, they're usually paid a set daily rate for their services and often cannot delegate out their work or pay others to do the mustering in their place. They will usually also supply their own equipment which is usually a horse.
Using the ATO Australian Tax Office tool they are actually considered a worker because they do not provide tools of the trade over $1,000. This may be different if they muster using a bike or helicopter. Unfortunately a horse is not considered a tool of the trade as it is an animal. They're usually also not liable for rectifying damage and they cannot delegate out the work to others and it is under the instruction of the owners regarding how the mustering is to be done.
Under certain contracts they may be considered a contractor. Say for example, if they were able to delegate out the work and were liable for rectifying damage or if they perhaps used a bike or a ute or even a helicopter to muster as these are considered tools of the trade and would definitely fulfil the criteria of A) heavy machinery and also B) over the $1,000 limit.
Please see the activity provided. The links would have been available at the start of the presentation and will also be emailed out following the webinar. This is a take-home activity to assist with determining who is a worker and who is a contractor.
There is also an attached sheet which goes through who is a contractor and a worker. In a few weeks the answers will be provided and if you have any questions you're able to call to clarify.
If you're concerned that you may have additional workers to declare or have been over declaring your wages for people who may not be considered workers, please do not hesitate to contact me and we can definitely review and adjust if required.
The next subject I will touch on is premium.
Over the past two years we have done a complete overhaul in the way that premium is calculated. We have created a rating system for small businesses to reduce any fluctuations which may occur in the event of a claim and have also provided larger companies with more opportunities to reduce their premium with successful claims management.
One system is for under $1.5 million dollars in wages and the other is for over $1.5 million dollars in wages.
For under $1.5 million there is now a rating system. One to five with a rating one paying 80 per cent of the industry rate and a rating five paying 120 percent of the industry rate.
The maximum you can move in any one financial year is one rating which is equivalent to 10 percent of the industry rate. This means in the event of a claim it is much simpler to budget and understand how the claim may affect your premium. If you have no claims in the financial year you automatically drop one rating which is a saving of 10 percent of the industry rate.
There is also a $500 claims cost buffer for any minor claims, meaning that the first $500 spent in a financial year will not impact your premium.
Employers paying more than $1.5 million in wages have their premium calculated using a wages by rate formula called 'evidence based rating'. This is calculated using three factors – your declared wages, your claims experience and the industry experience. These policies reflect four years of claims experience, three years of statutory claims and one year of common law.
So what happens if there's a claim?
In the instance an injury occurs the best step is to encourage timely reporting.
The earlier a claim is lodged the earlier a decision can be made and treatment can be provided. This ultimately gives the injury the best chance of recovery and can dramatically reduce the amount of time off required before a clearance to return to work.
It is also beneficial to maintain a good relationship with the employee so that they continue to feel part of the team while they are off work. Creating a supportive culture for your workers can really impact their attitudes to return and reduce the amount of time off in claims.
Also providing suitable duties where possible allows for an earlier return to work and creates the attitude that just because someone has been injured doesn't mean they have to be at home. There are often many safe tasks for someone to do while they recover.
It is a great idea to make a list of lighter duties available on the property to have to provide to doctors when the worker returns to give them a better idea of your station and what is available.
This slide highlights the importance of return to work. After 20 days the likelihood of ever returning to work for a worker falls to 70 per cent. This drops after 45 days to 50 per cent and after 70 days, only just over two months, it falls to only a 35 per cent chance of ever returning to work.
This can be for a number of reasons and isn't just due to the severity of the injury. The psychological impacts of being off work for this amount of time can be severe and can impact on their confidence to return to work even if they make a full recovery and can.
This is why we promote an early return to work, even on light duties at reduced hours or even in host employment as it is more beneficial than being off work.
This is the new Work Capacity Certificate which was released in July 2016. The certificate focuses on what workers can do rather than what they can't.
The top part of the certificate goes through the basic details of the worker and the injury and then any treatment required and then finally their capacity for work. This will be one of three things, either totally unfit to work, a full clearance to return to normal duties or a clearance for lighter duties which then will detail any of the restrictions in the boxes below.
The restrictions listed on a certificate will outline what types of suitable duties they can perform and are a great starting point to look at whether light duties will be possible. It will also usually provide a timeframe for return to normal duties so that it can be planned on how many suitable duties you may have available and whether that will be enough.
As previously mentioned a stay at work approach or early return to work is the best outcome.
Usually after an injury someone may not be able to return to their normal duties straight away, so we would look at lighter or suitable duties. These are developed with all parties, including yourselves, the doctors, the worker and us.
Lighter duties don't always have to be in their normal roles and can even be supervising or assisting other staff members. There are many benefits to suitable duties. It reduces the workload on other staff, assists the worker to regain their strength to return to normal duties and socially it keeps the worker involved and contributes to the productivity of the business.
When looking at suitable duties the first step is to think about what jobs there are on the property. I have attached a copy of our Beef Suitable Duties Checklist which is a list of potential tasks at the start of this presentation. This can be personalised to fit your own station.
Once you have a list of available duties you then compare this to any restrictions the worker may have. This will be listed on their medical certificate, however we are always able to get more information from the doctors and physiotherapists if needed.
We are able to assist with this process and can also arrange for an occupational therapist to attend the site to assist with identifying suitable duties and developing a return to work plan. I understand that many stations may be quite regional and remote from town, however we can definitely arrange this as many occupational therapists will travel regularly to different towns.
At all times it is best to focus on what the worker can do and look for tasks that fit within those restrictions rather than looking at what they can't do.
We also need to look at what restrictions they are able to do, whether they need to start with less days or hours and then finally how we would upgrade the Suitable Duties Plan to return them back to normal duties.
Here we have an example of a suitable duties template. These are available on our website and I am happy to send one through if you are interested.
We also have the Suitable Duties Checklist which I mentioned before which can be given to the doctor and has many options for light duties listed. So they can simply tick what duties the worker is able to do and that can actually act in place of a suitable duties template because you can just follow what those tasks are.
As an activity to assist with identifying duties, you have been provided with a suitable duties activity sheet which lists different injuries and space to write duties which could accommodate the restrictions relating to that. So for example one may be an upper limb injury and the types of duties someone may be able to do, if say for example they've injured their left arm and they're right-handed.
In a few weeks an answer sheet will be provided. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to call and I'm happy to go through different options.
There are also many options to support a return to work. We can look at what we call supernumerary payments where we continue to cover the cost of wages so that they can return to doing light duties if these duties aren't contributing to their normal role. It basically places them as an extra staff member within the business. It's usually for short periods sort of up to a maximum of six weeks but can sometimes be just enough to allow them to start to rebuild strength so that they can return to doing more productive work.
We can also look at partial payment for wages while they're at reduced hours or even full hours if again their duties are quite limiting to contributing to the business, or even host employment where duties cannot be sourced on the property where we look at a different employer to provide them duties until they're able to return.
Host employment is usually sourced through our Recover at Work or RaW employers. These employers have policies with WorkCover Queensland and they volunteer to offer light duties to workers recovering from injury. These employers are able to select which workers they place, the worker's wages are paid by WorkCover so there is no cost to the RaW or Recover at Work employer and WorkCover also absorbs liability for any injury that may occur while on the host placement.
There is also no obligation to hire the worker at the end of the placement.
There is a video available on our website about Clinton Benson who was in the construction industry and sustained a severe injury. Fortunately he was able to commence suitable duties with a host employer which then led to a new role.
We ensure that workers participating in the RaW program are a good fit. At all times you are in control of the placement and are able to adjust or terminate if required.
Particularly in the agricultural industry it can be very difficult to source a host employment and if you are willing there is an opportunity to really help people who genuinely really just want to get back to work. We are always really eager to have new host employers and if it's something that you may be interested in, please let us know and we can give you a little bit more detail and you can see if it's something that would fit your business.
Finally when looking at what to do in the event of a claim lodging a claim is quick and easy. The best way to lodge is online at worksafe.qld.gov.au. However you can also lodge by phone, fax, post or sometimes the doctor will send through the medical certificate first.
It is best to notify us of an injury within eight business days. We then have up to 20 business days to determine the claim, however we aim to be much faster than this.
During the determination of a claim we gather information from yourself, the worker and any medical information to review whether the claim is able to be accepted.
Once the claim has been accepted we're able to cover reasonable medical expenses and weekly benefits if they are unable to work.
As just mentioned the best way to lodge a new claim is online. We also have a dedicated employer site known as WorkCover Connect. It is simple to be set up for the service and allows you information on your policy and any claims, not just current claims but any claims that your policy has ever had.
You are able to submit documents through this portal, ask questions and review costs and correspondence on claims between you and the customer advisor or the person determining the claim. You can also declare wages through the same portal.
If you would like to be set up for WorkCover Connect or you would like to know your login details if you've used it before but may have forgotten, please do not hesitate to contact me on the details that will be provided shortly.
We are always here to help and have set up many tools to assist you with managing injured workers, return to work and your policy. We have regular webinars available. In this series, our next webinar on the 7th of March will cover common law claims and will be presented by one of our panel solicitors. It is a great opportunity to gain more information about common law claims and what you can do to prevent and prepare for a claim.
We are also able to do what's known as premium forecasting as well where we can have a chat at how a claim may impact your premium and what it would look like over time as well, in the years to come.
Thank you for your time today. I hope I have given you some useful information about who we are and what we do.
My contact details are now on the screen and I am always happy to have a chat about any questions you may have.
At WorkCover we are available as much as you need us and really enjoy working with our employers.
We are regularly out visiting different areas and if you would like us to, are happy to come out to visit to get to know your business.
Thanks very much Courtney.
So we have time for some questions now and I have a couple here for you Courtney.
So the question is:
Q: If I have children and grandchildren who occasionally work on my property, do I need to have a policy for them?
So you do need to have a policy for any children or grandchildren working on the property. Even if they may not be paying a wage and they might be given like a room or board in place of that, they are considered workers and it is really important that they do have cover I guess. In the event of an injury they would be found to be workers and that way we would be able to cover their medical expenses as well. So I guess it's peace of mind.
Even if you're not paying a lot of wages, so you may be paying them only a few hundred dollars a year, we have what's known as a minimum policy. This is only $290 a year and that basically covers you in the event of any injury to one of your family members that may be working on the property and can be a really good idea.
Thanks Courtney and is there an age limit to who that would cover, with your children?
So with your children they do need to be classified as a worker. So they need to be of working age. So I believe that's 14 and nine months at the moment but it will be in line with whatever the criteria are for that. There's no top end though.
Okay, that's great. Thanks Courtney.
Just another one here:
Q: We have a very small property and only hire people for mustering. So we don't have any suitable duties. So what would we do if we had an injured worker?
Okay, and that does happen sometimes particularly if it is a small property.
What we would work with is when the claim had come through, so if there was an injury we would be working right at the start to try and source some host employment somewhere nearby the property.
Sometimes I can understand that can be hard if it's several hundred kilometres between different areas, but we do everything that we can and we just regularly liaise with the doctors to see if perhaps there are maybe exercises they could be doing at home to rebuild that strength in place of suitable duties or if we can't get a different employer to assist.
Okay, that's great.
There's another question coming in.
Q: So the line between a contractor and a worker is pretty blurred and sometimes my contractors will bring tools for work above $1,000 in value but then also sometimes they're not. It is a partnership type contracting business. How can this be managed?
Okay, so there is that question of if they're bringing tools of the trade over $1,000. That’s only one part of what would determine whether someone was a worker or a contractor. If everything else was in line with they were likely to be a worker, so for example they're not able to delegate out to other musterers and they're not liable for rectifying any damage and things like that, it is quite likely that they would still be a worker.
So it's sort of a combination of all of those factors which is why we are always really happy to go through the ATO decision tool because generally that one thing won't be what will change a worker or a contractor. It will be the whole picture.
But whoever's asked that question, if you'd like to give me a call I'm more than happy to go through and run through the tool with you and we can see what it comes out at for your specific business.
On the screen now we have the contact details for WorkCover Queensland and for Courtney. So that's her phone number and her email address. I'll be sending out the attachments that were provided for today and I'll send Courtney's contact details out in an email to all the registrants following the webinar.
So as I mentioned all the webinars are now available on the website and the two from WorkCover will also be available in the next few weeks.
So the website is www.worksafe.qld.gov.au.
Sorry Ros, I'll just jump in as well. I've just seen another question there with:
Q: What is the best way to manage a claim when the worker hasn't reported the incident or injury until several weeks after the event?
This is actually quite a common question that we get and unfortunately it does happen. It does make things more difficult because we're not always aware of the injury which means that you know, sometimes a return to work early hasn't been able to be achieved and also they may not have had the treatment that they need.
Quite often you can see this sometimes with someone that's cut their finger and then it's become infected. It's obviously taken time to do that and all of a sudden now they've got quite a serious injury whereas it might have been something minor to begin with as well.
So the best advice we can do Ben is if someone has not notified about an injury until several weeks after is to try to gather as much information about what's happened back then, maybe statements from anyone that might have been there because that will assist with the determination of our claim. But then also trying to get information as quickly as possible from the doctors.
So making sure that they have seen a doctor now and that there's a clear treatment plan so that we can get the ball rolling as quickly as possible even though it may be a few weeks after the injury.
We do also investigate and look into these types of claims as well, particularly if there's been a lot of time between the injury. Sometimes they're quite straightforward and there's a really simple explanation why but in those cases where it really isn't clear and there may not have been any witnesses we can also get information from our doctors just to make sure that everything's consistent with the type of injury and what's been sustained compared to what they've said has happened.
Courtney there's another question here:
Q: If the worker doesn't want to go to through WorkCover what's the best thing for the employer to do?
Look what you can do is still lodge a notification only claim which is basically, it's not a full claim. It's just a notification that an injury has happened and to that person. That basically is all that you need to do.
At the end of the day it is their choice as to whether they wish to go through WorkCover or not. If they don't wish to go through us you're not liable for any of those costs and they would need to understand that any of their medical treatment or time off would need to be covered either through their sick leave or their own pocket, I guess for any medical treatment.
They do have a six month period to lodge a claim after an injury. So once they've seen the doctor that six month period starts. If they don't choose to lodge a claim within that timeframe quite often it means that the claim wouldn’t be one for acceptance with us anyway and so we usually recommend to people that it's best to lodge it so that it's there, even if it's quite simple and they go back quickly. But at the end of the day it is their choice and if they choose not to do it that's fine.
Okay, thanks Courtney and as we said look, if you have questions and you need more clarification about some of these issues that you have do contact Courtney and she'd be more than happy to help you and talk through any of the situations you might have.
So we have three eSafes dedicated to rural industry through the year which you can subscribe to as well and you can do that through the worksafe.qld.gov.au website.
Keep an eye out as Courtney mentioned for the next webinar from WorkCover which will be on the 7th of March.
Thank you very much for attending today's webinar and as I mentioned I'll send out the templates to all the registrants and we look forward to talking to you at the next webinar.
[End of Transcript]
Common law claims are covered in this webinar where Ross McConaghy, WorkCover Queensland Panel solicitor, discusses the basics of Common Law Claims and how they differ to statutory claims.
He also runs through the timeline of a common law claim, what you need to provide and practical strategies to reduce risk and liability
Download a copy of this film (ZIP/MP4, 316MB)
Serious about grazier safety webinar series
Ros Rees and Ross McConaghy
Hello and welcome to the seventh webinar in our Serious about grazier safety series presented in conjunction with OBE Organic and Grazing BMP.
My name is Ros Rees and I'll be your facilitator for today.
Thank you for joining us for today's session in which we'll be going through common law claims.
The first six webinars are now live on our website and we'll provide the address at the end of today's session. Please send any questions through at any time during the webinar and we will endeavour to answer them at the end.
Please also take a few minutes to complete the survey which is at the end of the webinar as it provides us with valuable feedback, and any problems accessing this link please also let us know and I'll give you an email address at the end of the webinar.
Your Presenter for today is Ross McConaghy, a Panel Solicitor from Jensen McConaghy Lawyers working with WorkCover Queensland. Ross founded Jensen McConaghy with Scott Jensen and together they have built a firm of legal professionals dedicated to fostering client relationships and delivering effective results.
For the past 26 years he has been practising exclusively in insurance and personal injury law, defending compulsory third party, workers compensation, professional indemnity and public liability claims.
I'll now pass over to you Ross.
Thanks Ros for that kind introduction and good afternoon ladies and gentlemen.
In today's presentation I'll be providing a high level overview of the Queensland Workers' Compensation Common Law Scheme touching on issues relating to what an injured worker must prove to receive an award of damages and what steps you as employers can take to reduce the risk of a Common Law claim being made.
Now in saying that I appreciate that rural workplaces are amongst the most difficult to manage from a risk perspective. It's often impossible to directly supervise your workers given the areas required to be covered and the fact that they're often working on their own in remote locations. They create unique challenges for employers and also for WorkCover and in turn us as WorkCover's panel lawyers in defending those claims.
In Queensland our system for compensating injured workers comprises of two distinct but related schemes. On the one hand the no fault statutory compensation scheme and on the other the common law damages scheme and your WorkCover policy provides cover for both.
To receive no fault statutory benefits, a worker need only establish that an injury was suffered in the course of employment. That scheme provides the worker with weekly income while off work and covers rehabilitation and treatment expenses and the like. The vast majority of workplace injuries are dealt with under this system and don't move into the common law scheme.
There were around 65,000 statutory benefits claims in the 2016 financial year. During the same year there were about 2,150 common law claims. So there's a very low number of claims that migrate across into the common law scheme.
So who should you cover?
A change in the workers' compensation legislation came into effect on the 1st of July 2013 bringing WorkCover Queensland's definition of a 'worker' into alignment with the Australian Taxation Office. This covers Pay As You Go or PAYG employees and those deemed workers under select contracts of service. A person or individual can also be a worker even if they hold an ABN or are responsible for their own tax.
It is important to make sure that you are declaring wages for any workers and also to make sure that you aren't declaring wages for anyone that may not be covered. This includes, people can be workers even if they are paid as room and board or other goods in lieu of wages.
So what is common law? Essentially common law is the law developed by our court system as distinct from the laws created by parliament. The courts establish principles which we refer to as 'precedent' and that gives assistance in future cases to how they're to be dealt with subject to statutory modification.
In Queensland we have something of a hybrid model. The common law or judge made law has been modified to some extent by the legislature and our courts are now provided with some guidance in relation to how certain principles are to be decided.
I mentioned before there's only a very small number of claims comparatively that move from the statutory claim system into the common law system. What's the attraction of pursuing common law damages and what's the catch?
Well first and foremost the damages claim successfully from the common law claim are generally much higher than the compensation available through the no fault scheme. For example the no fault scheme doesn't provide compensation for future economic loss nor for pain and suffering.
The catch though is that the injured worker must prove that the employer was negligent.
So how does one access common law? Well essentially for a successful claim the worker who's been injured must prove that the employer has been negligent and that a number of criteria were satisfied. First and foremost that there was a duty of care owed by the employer to the worker, secondly that that duty of care was breached and thirdly that that breach resulted in personal injury to the injured worker.
Now it's firmly established in Australia that all employers owe a duty of care to their workers and that duty of care is to take reasonable steps to avoid or reduce the risk of injury. That's firmly established now in Australia. So generally point number one is ticked very early in the piece.
That duty of care can't be delegated to another party. So regardless of whether you hire out a worker to another employer or you send that worker off to work at a third party's premises, nonetheless you retain that duty of care although it may be argued that the host employer or the occupier of the property where that person might suffer injury must also share the burden, but you can't delegate that duty of care. So the real focus in common law claims are on points two and three, firstly that the duty of care was breached and that that breach resulted in personal injury.
Now under our legislation, the Workers' Compensation and Rehabilitation Act a successful claimant must establish a number of things. Firstly that there was a risk of injury and that that risk of injury was reasonably foreseeable.
Now if you look to the photo on the right of the screen that's a fairly clear example of a reasonably foreseeable risk of injury. That's a bit extreme but it puts it in context.
The worker must also establish that the risk was not insignificant, that the injury was preventable through the exercise of reasonable care on the part of the employer and that the precautionary measure to prevent the injury was a reasonable response to the risk.
Lastly the injured claimant must establish that the injury was caused by the materialisation of the risk in question which is what we refer to as causation.
Now encapsulated within that general concept of the overarching duty of care is a range of I guess sub duties which have been developed by the courts over many years. I've listed a number of them there. First and foremost to provide, maintain and enforce a safe system of work, to provide safe and appropriate plant and equipment free from patent defects, to provide safe premises, to instruct employees in the safe performance of their work and to provide adequate supervision and assistance.
In a nutshell the employer's duty is to identify risks in the workplace through thorough risk analyses, to devise safe systems, to prevent those risks materialising, to implement those measures and to train, maintain and reinforce those measures. You can do that in a number of ways, obviously through using written safe work procedures, reinforcing those procedures regularly through toolbox meetings, safety meetings and the like, and by generally promoting a culture of safety in the workplace.
So when does an employer breach its duty of care?
An employer will have breached its duty of care where the risk of injury was reasonably foreseeable and not insignificant, where there were measures available to the employer to protect the worker from that risk and where the employer unreasonably failed to adopt those measures.
So it follows that not all risks present in the workplace require a response and ultimately at the end of the day your duty as an employer is only to do what is reasonable. The law does not expect you to absolutely guarantee or ensure the safety of your workers. The duty is to take reasonable steps to identify risks and then minimise the prospect that a worker might be injured as a result of materialisation of that risk.
There's also a balancing act or a balancing assessment that you need to undertake between the cost and inconvenience on the one hand of guarding against a risk as against the likely severity of the injury on the other. If the cost and inconvenience of guarding against a risk far outweighs the potential severity of that risk then the law generally doesn't require you to take steps to alleviate that. So as I say there's a balancing act that has to occur.
Now you as employers might also be exposed to a finding of liability in circumstances where another worker causes injury to an injured claimant. We refer to that as vicarious liability. Also an enhanced duty of care can sometimes arise which is also referred to as a special duty of care in circumstances where an employer has prior knowledge that an employee might be at some particular risk. For example if you have a worker with a known history of lower back problems the courts will impose on you a higher duty of care to ensure that that worker isn't involved in tasks that might expose the worker to further injury. So for example heavy lifting, repetitive bending or that sort of thing.
It may surprise you that our courts have held on numerous occasions that there are a number of instances that might on the face of it appear unfair where an employer might be found to have breached its duty. For example where your employee is a very experienced worker and has performed the task many times before without incident and without injury. That may boil down to really being a case of good luck as opposed to good management.
Also where the risk was obvious the courts have long held in Australia that employers are required to guard against the risk of injury to workers created through inadvertence or complacency or sheer repetition of the task. There's a famous case decided by a high court many years ago involving a garbage collector back in the old days when they used to pick up the cans, the garbage tins and run out to the trucks, and he'd performed that task for 20 or more years, and ran around the back of a truck out onto the road and was hit and killed by an oncoming vehicle.
Now that's something that common sense would tell you was an obvious risk but because he'd done it so many times without incident complacency and laziness had crept in. The court found in that case that the employer was required to guard against that risk materialising.
Another example is where there's been no previous incidents. You could have had a completely incident free workplace for many years and on one occasion you have a worker who suffers a serious injury. Again that may boil down to a case of good luck as against good management.
Where the worker is performing an unauthorised task in some circumstances, that can create a liability, provided that that task is within the general scope of the worker's duties.
Criminal conduct on the part of a co-worker or a third party. That can create a liability in circumstances where for example the employer might have some prior knowledge, for example, of some violent or aggressive behaviour on the part of one co-worker towards another. That can give rise to a breach of duty. Or where as I mentioned before the worker is working at a third party's premises or even in their own home, the law requires you to ensure as far as you reasonably can that those workplaces are free from hazards.
Okay, so I've listed on the next slide a few examples, a few factual scenarios for discussion as to whether or not they might give rise to a breach of duty or not on the part of an employer.
The first is a worker who sustains injury lifting a 23 kilogram item of agricultural equipment. I should say at the outset manual handling cases are notoriously difficult and the precise facts of each case become very important. For example a 23 kilogram item for a normal able-bodied male worker probably doesn't present a reasonably foreseeable risk of injury, however if you combine that with an awkward posture having to be adopted because of a confined space or a repetitive lift or a pre-existing degenerative back condition, the outcome can change very quickly.
So depending upon the individual facts it could go either way and there have certainly been cases involving weights of much less significance than that which have resulted in an injured worker receiving significant awards of damages.
The second scenario is a worker who falls from his horse after the horse becomes entangled in fencing wire which has been left in long grass near a boundary fence. This was an actual case. In that case there had been a fencing contractor at the site and there'd been some coils of wire left behind.
The court in that case found that that constituted an unsafe workplace and that the employer should have taken steps to ensure that after that work had been carried out there was no loose wire lying around.
Now I mentioned earlier vicarious liability and the scenario I've given you referred to a co-worker leaving the wire on the ground. That was arguably a negligent act by the co-worker and the employer is ultimately responsible for that co-worker's negligence.
If that wire had been left behind as it had in the case I mentioned by an independent contractor who'd come onto the property to carry out the fencing work, the employer still doesn't unfortunately dodge a bullet. It might be though that part of the responsibility can be hived off to the contractor because as I mentioned before, ultimately you as an employer owe a non-delegable duty to your workers to ensure that the workplace is safe. So in that scenario there would be a reasonably significant finding against the fencing contractor but you wouldn't avoid liability altogether as the employer.
The third scenario involves a pure psychiatric injury which I must say are becoming more and more prevalent. In this example a head stockman verbally abuses a young jackaroo on one occasion, there'd been no prior history of this, and as a result of that the young worker allegedly sustains a psychiatric injury.
Now on those bare facts that claim would probably fail unless it could be established that the employer was aware of some issue between the head stockman and the jackaroo. That would put them on notice that there was some behaviour which they needed to guard against.
Now sometimes particularly in the sort of work environments that you have in rural areas strong language is required to get the message across, but that shouldn't be allowed to cross the line to become bullying or harassing behaviour. So again as I say, that case probably would fail on those bare facts but if there was a history of some aggression or antagonistic behaviour from the superior to the junior worker then it would certainly arguably put you on notice as employer that something wasn't right and that steps needed to be taken.
The second last example, a jackaroo on a motorbike chasing a wayward calf collides with a wire fence. Again this is a real case. In that case the worker sued his employer because he alleged that in the excitement of the chase he forgot essentially where the fence was. There were no visual markers on the wires on the fence and that there should have been some warnings given by the employer to remind him that he might encounter paddock fences or boundary fences in the course of mustering activities.
That particular plaintiff lost because the court said it was unreasonable to expect that a property owner on a very large property should have to put visual markers every few metres along each strand of wire on each fence. That was an unreasonable response to the perceived risk of injury. Nor did the court think that it was reasonable that the employer should have provided a warning to the worker who was very familiar with the property, knew where the fence lines were and was just not paying attention. So in that case the claim failed.
Finally the last example is a young female worker who was thrown from a horse for no apparent reason and in that case there was no prior history of any sort of unpredictable behaviour on the part of that animal. Now in those circumstances again the case would probably fail because the employer wasn't on any particular notice of any risk that that horse might present.
Now the facts of that case could change very quickly if for example there was some history of unpredictable behaviour or aggressive behaviour on the part of that horse or where for example the worker was thrown from the horse and hit her head on a rock or a hidden log in the grass and sustained a head injury. In circumstances where it might have been arguable that a helmet should have been worn, there could be a finding in that case, that the employer should have enforced a system requiring the wearing of a safety helmet which I know is a controversial issue at the moment in rural workplaces.
But there has been at least one case I'm aware of in one of the southern states where an employer was successfully prosecuted by authorities for failing to require a young worker to wear a helmet in circumstances where he was thrown from a horse and sustained a fatal head injury.
Horses are a major cause of death and serious injury in Australia and that's obviously well known. So the courts may well adopt a fairly tough attitude in Queensland, particularly as the benefits of helmets become more known. Obviously a helmet won't assist in relation to a spinal injury or a neck injury but in circumstances where someone suffered a head injury fatal or otherwise, there could be a finding for that reason alone.
I should also add a note there in relation to what I haven't touched on which is a worker's contributory negligence. That is where the injured worker has behaved in a way which has contributed to their own injury. The courts do recognise that and will reduce the worker's damages proportionate to that level of contribution. If for example in that scenario the young worker had been told to wear a helmet, rode off wearing a helmet but half a kilometre down the track took it off and put her old batted Akubra on, the allegation of contributory negligence might well and truly be made out.
Just quickly touching on pre-existing conditions, an employer will be exposed to damages where an incident results in the aggravation of a pre-existing condition and that includes circumstances where an incident might bring to light a previously asymptomatic condition, for example a worker with a degenerative but otherwise symptom free lumbar spine. In a number of cases the medical specialist will say that the workplace incident has accelerated the onset of symptoms or has brought those symptoms to light when they may not ever have been suffered.
The onus is well and truly on the defendant, on the employer which in turn means me to prove that the pre-existing condition would have affected the worker in the future had the incident not occurred. The law requires that the defendant produce medical evidence which with a reasonable degree of accuracy identifies when in the absence of the workplace injury, that injury may have become symptomatic and may have led for example to the worker not being able to continue in employment. It's a very difficult onus to meet.
In other cases an employer will be liable where there's an underlying condition that results in the worker suffering a far more serious injury than a person of normal fortitude and that's what we refer to as the 'eggshell skull rule'. To give you an example, a very simple example of that, you might have a person who is visually impaired in one eye who as a result of a workplace incident sustains a penetrating injury to their remaining good eye. Now obviously that injury would have far more devastating consequences for that person than it would to a person with normal eye sight in both eyes.
Now just to give you a very quick potted summary of how we assess damages in these claims, I could spend hours on this topic alone, but just to give you a very general idea, we break down the assessment into what we call 'heads of damage' and in the Workers' Compensation Scheme they generally relate to these five items.
The first is general damages which is a global term to cover pain and suffering and inconvenience and loss of enjoyment of life and all of those sorts of things. It's the award that is a bit nebulous and you can't really place a precise calculation on.
I've referred in the slide to that now being calculated by what we call an ISV or an Injury Scale Value. Under the legislation in both the Workers' Compensation Scheme and the compulsory third party scheme and now also in the public liability arena, in Queensland damages for pain and suffering or general damages are assessed by reference to a zero to 100 point scale with a zero injury attracting zero damages and a 100 point injury attracting a figure of about $358,000. A 100 point injury would be an injury of the most severe imaginable. So it might be for example a child suffering acquired brain injury and quadriplegia with full insight into their condition. That would attract the maximum.
At the other end of the scale you might have a worker who sustained a soft tissue spine injury which has resolved with no symptoms at all.
Past economic loss speaks for itself. It's really the past loss of earnings and also past loss of occupational superannuation.
Future economic loss which is a little bit of a misnomer. It's not strictly the calculated loss of future earnings. It extends also to the impairment of that person's earning capacity. So for example even if a person has returned to full employment on full wages, they can still receive an award of damages for future economic loss because what the court is compensating is not so much the lost income as the lost ability to earn income in a range of occupational pursuits and to compensate that person for their risk on the open labour market against other able-bodied workers if for example that worker happens to lose their job. Past special damages which are really just past out of pocket expenses, medical expenses and that sort of thing, pharmaceuticals and future special damages, future out of pocket expenses.
Okay, so what can you do to assist?
We lawyers like pieces of paper. We particularly like pieces of paper with signatures and facts written down. The importance of accurate and comprehensive note-taking and an early incident report signed by the injured worker where you can can't be emphasised enough. Now your first contact with the injured worker may result in the only contemporaneous account of the event and that is very, very important.
Where possible you should take photographs at the scene where it might be relevant and of any contributing plant or equipment that might be involved, and if you can preserve any relevant plant and equipment because it may become crucial evidence at a later time. When there's a dispute about the circumstances of an incident or whether it even occurred, a court is going to be highly influenced by what appears in your notes and ultimately you may be required to give evidence at trial as to the content of conversations you may have had with an injured worker. So early note-taking very important and that can save literally hundreds of thousands of dollars in the common law claim.
So just in closing some points to remember.
As an employer your obligation is to analyse your workplace and each of the tasks that are involved in that workplace to identify any risks associated with those tasks, to devise systems and procedures to avoid or reduce those risks and then to implement, enforce and reinforce those procedures. It's no good or it's not good enough to identify the risk and maybe tell the workers about it and then do nothing more.
There needs to be a system of continual reinforcement and retraining to ensure the message gets across, and provided you've done that you've got a much better leg to stand on in establishing that you've taken reasonable steps to avoid injury.
Lastly if an incident occurs as I just mentioned, document it as soon as possible through contemporaneous notes, photographs, signed statements and an incident report. Remember always that WorkCover Queensland and its panel lawyers and Workplace Health and Safety Queensland are here to help and provide you with guidance through that process. Thank you for your attention and I'll hand back over to Ros.
Thanks very much Ross.
So if there's any questions just send those through and we'll try and answer those for you as quickly as we can.
So as Ross was referring to there on the last slide, that it's important to identify the risks associated with the tasks, devise the systems and procedures and implement and enforce these, and keep your records. That's what we've been talking about in this series of webinars about developing a safety management system. Just listening to what Ross was saying here, those documents are going to be really important if there is an incident.
So if you haven't had an opportunity to listen to the rest of the webinars do jump onto our website and have a listen through of those and it will give you an idea of what you might need to do.
If you have any questions just get in touch with us on our firstname.lastname@example.org email address which is up on the screen now.
So Ross, we've got a question here now.
Q: For our grazing company should we have a new employee induction and anything special in an employment contract?
Yeah. That's certainly very important. All new employees should be properly inducted. If you have safe work procedures for example, those should be discussed in detail with the new employees.
I know because I've been through it many times that employers will occasionally just hand a new worker a booklet or a set of procedures and ask them to sign acknowledging that they've read and understood those procedures.
It's really not enough. I think you really need to work through those properly, each of those procedures and get a proper acknowledgement from the new employee that they fully understand the systems that you've devised.
Anything special in the employment contract? Not particularly other than an acknowledgement that they have been inducted, that the safe work procedures have been fully canvassed with them and that they understand those procedures.
Thank you very much for joining us everyone. As I said the webinars will be up on our website and the address is up there on the slide. It's worksafe.qld.gov.au and if you have any specific workplace health and safety questions you can email myself at email@example.com and we'll try and get some information out to you.
If you'd like a copy of the Serious About Farm Safety Guide which is on our website, but if you would like a hard copy I can organise to send you that out as well and that will give you guidance about developing your safety management systems and providing that documentation that we've been referring to today.
You can also subscribe to our eSafes. There are three rural ones per year and you can do that through our website.
Thank you very much for attending today's webinar.
[End of Transcript]
- Last updated
- 12 January 2018
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