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How businesses can boost WHS with free expert advice

A Far North Queensland air conditioning and refrigeration company has used the downtime of the COVID pandemic to improve its workplace health and safety and ensure workers are taking a stronger, more vocal interest in workplace improvements.

Cairns-based Messina Air Conditioning and Refrigeration always had WHS as a focus to its operations, but used the­ COVID disruption to call in the experts to highlight where and how improvements could be made and opportunities used to better engage with workers.

Founder Paul Messina called in the Queensland Government’s Injury Prevention and Management Program (IPaM) to see how working smarter could mean working safer and more profitably.

They tweaked the WHS system to include an online service for workers to more easily carry out risk assessment and incident reporting.

Paul said the changes improved how workers undertook their work and made open consultation easier in implementing the systems overhaul.

“IPaM helped our business fine tune our safety systems and processes to ensure we are operating at best practice,” said Paul.

“The program offered us practical ideas and solutions tailored to our business requirements, and we were able to break down any improvements into smaller projects.

“We have seen our workers adapt to a more comprehensive safety process, ensuring that safety is front of mind in the jobs that they do, whether that is our techs in the field, or our staff in the office.

“Having a dedicated advisor meant that we had a contact point throughout the 12-month program to run any ideas past and to check our safety documentation. We started the IPaM program in the midst of COVID, so being able to connect with the team via online meetings meant we were able to get our changes underway and then show how these had been implemented once our advisor was able to physically visit the workplace.

“The site visits were also invaluable, so the advisor could see the work areas and do a walk around with us to provide practical suggestions on how we could improve our safety on site, and not just in our systems. Having a local advisor meant he also understood the regional environment within which we operate.”

Paul said any business looking to improve its health and safety should engage with the IPaM program, which offers insights into ensuring compliance with safety processes, providing open discussions about improvements, without the worry of engaging with inspectors.

He said navigating the WHS legislation could be difficult but working with IPaM gives an assurance that you can implement a solid safety system to protect your workers and understand your obligations.

Further information

IPaM is a joint initiative of WorkCover Queensland and Workplace Health and Safety Queensland and it is free to participate in the program. It is available to any Queensland employer with a WorkCover Queensland policy, regardless of size or business maturity.