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2018 Safe Work and Return to Work Awards

Christmas Creek Cattle Company

Christmas Creek Cattle Company identified safety risks to its workers, dogs, horses and livestock while crossing from one part of their property, 'Christmas Creek', to the other side of the busy Carnarvon Highway.

Moving livestock between the properties became a greater issue when the road was upgraded from gravel to a sealed highway. The speed limit increased to 110kms/hr and there was more traffic.

The company's solution was to use the large culverts under the highway, enabling livestock to be moved from one property to another without crossing the highway at all. After applying to the local council and the Department of Transport and Main Roads, the culverts were approved to be used as a cattle crossing once the company installed fencing, gateways and fixings.

Using the culverts:

  • eliminated the risks from crossing the busy highway
  • reduced the number of workers needed to complete the crossing with livestock from three or four people to just one
  • reduced staff, livestock and working animals stress levels as there is less pressure to move the livestock quickly over a dangerous highway
  • improved morale, productivity and the safety culture amongst workers because they were involved in the decision-making process throughout.

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Kerryn Piggot:

My husband, Bradley, and I own and operate Christmas Creek Cattle Company, which is a beef breeding and finishing operation. Our property's about 20 thousand hectors, dissected by the canal and highway. Crossing the cattle across the highway was a huge risk to our business. Unpredictable livestock, our employees, who ride horses or hogs, the potential to have an accident on the highway, was huge. We identified that there was an existing culvert running under the highway that would be suitable to cross cattle through.

We just needed then to modify our infrastructure to suit that culvert, so fencing and holding paddocks were then erected around the culvert to allow safe passage under the highway.

It was very important to Bradley and I that the team was engaged in the decision making. We identified the problem, and we carried out the work as a team, as well. The process was not simple, we just thought we could put a fence to the culvert, but there were several avenues we had to approach. The department of transport, for road corridor permit, it was also a stock route, so we had to have special gates in place for traveling stock, and also through the central Holland's regional council, because they're our local, government body, which maintains the road in this area.

Now, life is a whole lot safer, it's a whole lot simpler, and one person can do the job of three to four people, happily and safely, and not feel under threat each time you cross cattle from one side of the property to the other. We have a safety culture here within Christmas Creek Cattle Company, that we pride ourselves upon. We believe the safety of our employees is paramount, and everybody should be able to go home to their families after a day at work.

Laurel Johnson – Simonds Homes Pty Ltd

Nationally active and recognised in the construction industry, Laurel Johnson has built a strong record as a leader, innovator, and champion for her wide-ranging work in promoting and driving safety culture.

Working for Simonds Homes, Laurel is the National Work Health Safety Manager. Simmonds builds 2500 homes a year, uses over 800 sub-contracting companies and have reduced their lost-time injury frequency rate from 4.1 to 1.0 over the last three years.

Laurel works to improve the safety approach of the volume housing sector of the construction industry, sitting on a number of boards and sharing process and communication innovations freely. Her major achievements include an overhaul of the 'Linksafe portal' improving basic compliance of all sub-contractors on all sites, and introducing the 24 hour safety line within the company (ensuring that any worker, at any level, on any site in any state can raise a safety issue or get a safety question answered).

A key element of her success is her dedication to consultation at all levels of the organisation and consistent, clear communication. Her communication ranges from briefings with the CEO and Board through to being the single point of contact for all contractors, including the 24/7 safety line within the company.

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Laurel Johnson:

Simonds Home builds residential properties all over Australia. We build approximately two and a half thousand home a year. We have about seven or eight hundred employees. It's a flexible workforce and we probably have about a thousand subcontractors working for us, as well. When I first started, contractor management was a huge issue. We had different teams doing different things so it was really important to us that we were able to give the contractors clear guidance and expectations and make them feel like they were part of our team as well. We found an off the shelf product called LinkSafe and we worked very closely with the developer to make it very user friendly for the residential sector.

It's an online portal where trades who are wanting to work for Simonds can register. Once they're accepted, they can induct their staff and they have a line of sight on whose license has expired, whose insurances have expired, and it prompts them to be able to keep all that information up to date. We also developed a QR code for incident and hazard reporting that appears on our site signs and in all our offices. Anyone can come up, scan the code, and make an instant report. That goes directly to me and we like to call them back personally. If a small subcontractor gets a call from the head of health and safety team, the personal touch is what we're really proud of.

Simonds upper management were aware there was a gap and when we came up with this solution, they were very enthusiastic about taking it on. We worked really hard with them, but also with their staff and subcontractors to make it work. They were all stakeholders in the process and we wanted them to have buy in and we wanted them to be heard when we were doing the development. Queensland Home Builders Safety Alliance is a networking group of some of the major home builders in Queensland. We're really proud to be part of that group. We're all competitors in the industry, but we like to network and share ideas because it makes our industry better.

I love my job. I love the fact that we've gone from a culture where everybody expects they have to fill out a bit of paper because there's been an incident or a hazard to the personal touch where they can ring and they can talk it through with us, and they know who we are, and we become part of their work force as much as ours. I find that incredibly rewarding.

Mitchell Services

Mitchell Services is a drilling contractor in the mining and energy industries.

In the fourth quarter of the previous two years, Mitchell Services experienced its highest number of injuries and the highest injury severity. The company recognised that recent market expansion and growth in employee numbers had increased its risk profile.

Operation Homestretch was developed and implemented to reduce the number of injuries and the injury severity during the last quarter of the year, a traditionally high-risk period.

Challenges included an unsatisfactory record of safety performance during the target period, a highly regulated working environment, client requirements, a geographically diverse workforce and a work environment saturated in negative safety messaging.

Operation Homestretch is a practical application of the concepts of 'Safety differently' published by Sidney Dekker. It promotes a culture of investigating successes rather than failures, and looking objectively, rather than critically, at why work was carried out differently from the plan.

From December 2016 to December 2017, Mitchell Services' all injury frequency rate decreased by 48 per cent and its total recordable injury frequency rate decreased by 58 per cent.

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Andrew Elf:

Mitchell Services is a ASX listed company. We've got over 350 employees. It doesn't matter what company you are, it should be operating safely but certainly at Mitchell Services it's all about our people. I think we've come a long way as a team and as business over the last five or so years, and over that time our incident severity has reduced, our incident occurrence has reduced, and it's a credit to Josh and his team.

Josh Bryan:

The end of year is usually a high risk time of year, and that's where everyone focuses on everything that went wrong throughout the year. We actually turned that on its head and focused on what are the things that we did right.

6,000 shifts where we had no injuries at all, compared to the five that we did. So we've learned from those five injuries, but what about the 6,000 times where everything went right?

A Home Stretch program consists of a number of areas. It started with leaders going out in the field and introducing the concepts of safety differently, and encouraging the workforce to tell us about how you deal with variability. We changed our pre-shift meetings so that we would talk about, okay, what changed yesterday and how did you deal with it? Another thing was the Our People, Our Solutions initiative where we encourage the workforce to come up with ideas to make their workplace better and then we created crew chats, which was about humanizing our workforce. That we're all from different backgrounds and that we're a growing business. So we've got employees scattered all around Australia and they've all got different personalities, but the one thing that brings us together is that we all work for Mitchell Services.

Safety can be measured in the absence of something or it can be the presence of something. For us our injury frequency rate dropped by 60%. The rate of injuries or the amount of injuries dropped by 40%, but our focus was more on let's learn from our workforce and let's make this a better place to work and a safer place to work.

Andrew Elf:

The most important thing for me with the initiative is that everybody got to go home safely. That's the most important thing to me, is to see my family and I want everyone that works for us, regardless of what they're doing, to do the same.

Josh Bryan:

I've actually been able to make a change to the people that work for Mitchell Services, and actually apply concepts that are very different to traditional safety and we've been able to make them work.

Scentre Group Design and Construction

Scentre Group Design and Construction owns and operates a large shopping centre portfolio in Australia and New Zealand.

In consultation with staff, Scentre Group Design and Construction developed a health and wellbeing program called 'People protecting people' to improve general health, work-life balance and to drive behaviour change in the organisation.

One of the initiatives included introducing a five-day working week for employees, down from a traditional six days a week. This was identified as a positive step towards assisting workers with a healthy work/life balance and maintaining a healthy and sustainable working week.

Scentre Group Design and Construction measures health and safety performance through various leading and lagging performance indicators, engagement surveys, including WHS cultural alignment survey results, training hours, lost time injuries and near-miss incidents. Positive outcomes from this program have aligned with HR systems, WHS and is supported by management.

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Siobhan Grace:

Scentre Group is the owner and operator of Westfield in Australia and New Zealand. In 2015, a work, health and safety steering committee and a working group was formed to introduce a trial health and wellbeing program on the North Lakes project. That included a quit smoking program, skin checks, and MATES in Construction. We're really proud now that has evolved into general health checks and also a five-day working week. During the initial stages of this project, the Coomera project, the project team reviewed where we could improve. Our staff needed a better work-life balance, and when reviewing our past performances and where we could improve, we decided to implement a five-day work week. The staff love it. In this industry, it is common for workers to work six days a week. What that does is allow them to have quality time with their family, so when they come back to work, they're happier, healthier and safer.

Donny Carroll:

It's really made us stand out, I believe, as an employer of choice. I could challenge anybody, go and have a chat to one of our staff. They're happy where they're at. They feel cared for. They feel valued and that they have a voice. There's no titles, everybody has a voice. I have to say, the GM, the general manager, he was the driving force. He's the one that said, "Let's do this." It's a policy now, our new projects, once they commence, within three months a health and wellbeing committee must be established. Most important part of my job is people. The people out here, the people in the office, the people we work with, it's them, making sure they're safe, making sure they're comfortable.

Siobhan Grace:

I love the health and wellbeing aspect of my role. I enjoy helping people. There has been a real shift in our safety culture since launching the people protecting people statement, because what it really did is shifted the focus of compliance to people.

Donny Carroll:

Look, I'm very proud of this initiative, and I'm proud of the way the business has embraced it, and the difference it's making to people's lives.

Timothy Gallagher

As the Queensland Workplace Health and Safety Manager, Tim is responsible for rehabilitation and return to work for all Kelly Services personnel and for auditing those client organisations for which Kelly provides workforce solutions.

Tim led a total re-development of Kelly Services' WHS system between January and September 2017 based on a full review and gap analysis completed in 2016. Part of this project shifted the organisation from a paper-based system to a digital system, 'KellySafe'.

Using evidence-based reporting procedures and protocols, the system delivered significant improvements in data integrity, the efficiency of reporting, real-time information for management decisions, a reduction in total claims costs, improved return to work timeframes and outcomes for workers. The system offers insight and support for risk management too. It flags high-risk clients by accessing real-time data on pre-employment, safety training dates and expiry of certifications. Overall, it has allowed the company to actively reduce the original, significant, economic and legal exposures.

Tim modelled cultural change through his personal support to injured workers and attention to communicating the need for consistent, timely and focused treatment and rehabilitation. He advocated being present with injured workers when they are participating in rehabilitation. He attended patient appointments where appropriate, liaised with providers directly and inspected sites prior to contracts starting.

Tim was instrumental in establishing a preferred medical supplier network for Kelly Services within Southeast Queensland to partner with occupational physicians. This network delivered a significantly quicker return to work outcomes because the providers understand the suitable duties available, as well as being available to review injured workers more quickly.

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Timothy Gallagher:

Kelly Services is a labor hiring and recruitment agency specializing in scientific, industrial, trades, government and commercial. Kelly Services Australia internally have approximately 230 permanent employees and across the temp workforce in Queensland, roughly about 500.

Prior to 2016, there was a workplace, health and safety management system in place in the business. We just thought it needed updating and required a bit more embedding into the company. So that required us to develop a new system from the ground up mirroring off the 4801 standard, accompanying that, we developed a digital alarm platform to implement this across the company.

The digital systems is just an advancement and it makes it easier to use for the company so people at all levels have the requisite information at a click of the button and also provides the leadership team with the statistical data that comes along with the way we track safety and rehabilitation return to work in the company.

One of the things we're really proud of is the relationships we've built with our preferred medical suppliers within the southeast Queensland area. Working with the same Doctors that understand our organization and the type of work our candidates perform has enabled us to achieve better return to work timeframes and a better relationship management, not only with the physicians but with work cover as well.

As of 2017 we've seen a 50% reduction in compensable injuries and the rehabilitation timeframes that were attached to them. So while we had and increase in some LTRs the severity of the those LTRs were significantly reduced and overall cost the company significantly less money.

As with most safety initiatives, top down management support is integral, I was lucky enough with Kelly Services to have full support with the proposal I put forward. So in like 2016 we put together a proposal and presented that to the executive leadership team who are reporting 100% in support of it throughout the whole initiative.

I love being able to help people in rehabilitation return to work in safety. One of the valuable things is the candidates actually acknowledging that Kelly cares for them and that we're here to support them through that rehabilitation process. So that care that we provide the workers shows that Kelly is committed to the rehabilitation return to work process and making sure that not only their needs are taken care of but the organization is taken care of and our clients needs are taken care of as well.

Mater Group

Mater Group comprises of public and private health services and employs more than 7000 people across three Brisbane campuses. Historically, Mater did not have a favourable return to work record with limited support of suitable duties within the business, which led to high-cost claims.

Early intervention, medical support of the 'stay at work' principle as well as supportive, goal orientated injury management are keys in the improved Mater return to work performance.

An 'occupational capacity form' suite has been developed for both general capacity and tasks specific to work areas (for example clinical roles or kitchen roles). This form allows medical providers to 'tick and flick' information on a one-page document back to the rehabilitation team to ensure safe and appropriate suitable duties are sourced for the return to work plan. A psychological capacity form has also been developed due to the increasing number of psychological injuries over recent times.

Ongoing development of an inherent requirements database has been a focus for the rehabilitation team and this continues to grow. An inherent requirements document provides detailed information to a medical provider regarding the physical demands of specific roles which, in turn, will allow them to make an informed decision regarding the worker's capacity.

Mater Group has demonstrated a commitment to the return to work of injured workers, innovation in return to/stay at work (including implementing new return to work solutions, systems and programs), and improvement to an organisation's return to work culture. It now has the statistics and measures to prove how effective the return to work outcomes are compared to industry average.

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Speaker1:

The Mater is a hospital and healthcare service, but we also provide education and medical research within the Mater group.

In 2011, it was identified that the Mater return to work rates were poor. We did not support workers to recover in the workplace, and consequently, our premiums were fairly hefty. So, we decided to implement a process to improve the return to work rates within the Mater.

We implemented a pilot process at Mater Private, which had a separate premium at the time. The process involved early incident reporting and having our workers assessed at the Mater Private emergency department for their capacity to work, and there was an expectation from higher legal management that suitable duties would be provided in the work area.

What was implemented was immediate reporting, so there was a lot of education to managers and to staff around letting somebody know if you've hurt yourself. From a rehabilitation advisor perspective, our team were involved right from the get-to. We would advise immediately if someone had been to the Mater Private emergency, and we would go across to the work area, sit with the manager and the worker, and determine the suitable duties they could do, write a plan, get the buy-in from all parties, sign it off, and get it underway.

We're now six years later. The process has moved from being a pilot to being organization- wide. Prior to the pilot being implemented, our stay at work rates were 25 percent for injured workers. Now, our stay at work rates are up around 80 percent for injured workers remaining at work after an injury, and what we're seeing is that our claims are shorter, and they're less severe, and so 98 percent of our workers will return to their pre-injury jobs.

Work is so much more than just going in and doing your tasks. Work is a social connection for a person. It gives you a sense of value, and you're adding value to other people, as well.

What I find rewarding about coming to work is helping people recover at work, get better from their injuries, and return to their normal jobs.