A determined safety focus by Brendale manufacturer EJ Australia Pty Ltd (EJ) has seen the company achieve a 48 per cent reduction in its workers' compensation premiums and go 58 months without a lost time injury.
EJ achieved this shift in safety focus with help from the Queensland Government's Injury Prevention and Management program (IPaM), a joint initiative from Workplace Health and Safety Queensland and WorkCover Queensland.
"We used to have a very Aussie attitude towards safety, in that 'she'll be right' attitude that's a part of our national culture," EJ Asia Pacific general manager Simon Bottomley said.
"Safety was also seen as something 'too soft' to talk about in our 'blue collar/tough as nails' workplace.
"Consequently, we used to have approximately eight first aid injuries and two lost time injuries per month. We had accepted that this was just part of the business."
With a poorer safety record than other EJ plants around the world, the company moved to create a safety-based culture where safety was identified as a core value, with leadership from the top cascading down through to the sales, office, production and yard teams. No job was so urgent or so important that it needed to be done in an unsafe manner.
To ensure it complied with work health and safety laws, EJ worked closely with WHS inspectors and IPaM advisors. IPaM helped EJ review its safety and injury management systems and identify hazards at the Brendale facility. From these reviews, several initiatives were implemented to help EJ grow and improve their safety, health and injury management. Improvements included:
- enforcing the wearing of forklift seatbelts
- new checklists for guiding and recording office, factory and yard hazard inspections
- upgraded job safety analysis that can be completed easily by workers while they are performing their duties
- new reporting forms for incidents, near misses and worker identified hazards
- internal case studies better communicating safety initiatives to all staff
- promoting awareness of anti-bullying through posters in the office and factory, upgrading policies, flowcharts, toolbox talks and external annual training for all staff
- a new injury pack for all workers at induction (and at time of injury) including safety procedures, an injury form, medical centre details, who to call, and a fact sheet detailing how the company will call injured workers at regular intervals to initiate a return to work program.
"We've now got a safety-based culture," Mr Bottomley said.
"That means all staff understand the importance of safety, watch out for their fellow workers and talk regularly about safety."