Workplace Health and Safety Queensland and the University of Queensland have developed a resource on managing the many risks workers face in the poultry processing industry.
The rate of time-lost compensation claims in poultry processing is nearly double the Queensland average, despite recent improvements, and the industry’s compensation premiums are three times the state average.
UQ researchers teamed up with a forward-thinking poultry processor to evaluate its novel injury prevention and disability management program. The processor uses a program focussed on systems and processes to prevent injury and also encourages workers to report safety concerns and symptoms early and without retribution.
This early reporting allows the onsite injury prevention team to act swiftly, and stop minor issues becoming bigger problems. The onsite injury prevention team includes supervisors, trainers, first aid officers, OHS officers, and rehabilitation and return to work coordinators, all with training or skills in occupational health and workplace rehabilitation.
The team also used a contracted allied health professional during the set-up to help them find their feet but found they could continue to manage the program themselves once everyone was onboard and it was embedded in the workplace.
Results from the two-year early intervention program showed:
- an 18 per cent reduction in workers’ compensation claims
- a 27 per cent reduction in adjusted mean costs per claim
- a 37 per cent reduction in median days lost from work injury.
The research also found a strong link between workplace culture, work injury and disability. Having a good safety culture and a strong injury management program at the workplace was linked with fewer injuries and compensation claim costs.
The results were used by WHSQ to develop a resource which will be shared among all poultry processors in Queensland.