This case study demonstrates the importance of having a planned workplace health and safety strategy in place and identifying risk factors to mitigate injury.
Leighton Contractors is a diverse organisation, working across a number of industries within Australia and overseas. Mark Robinson, Regional Safety Systems & Compliance Manager, Leighton Contractors stated that the Queensland construction division has around 350 workers in a range of roles.
“These roles range from office duties to labouring to engineers,” Mark said.
Therefore, it presents a challenge to ensure appropriate workplace health and safety measures are met.
Leighton Contractors identified a pattern in their workers' compensation claims that highlighted the need to implement a more holistic WHS strategy. Over 50 per cent of claims occurred in the first three to six months of employment, resulting in increased staff absenteeism and an increased premium.
Identifying an opportunity to implement a holistic injury management program, Leighton began a process to better understand their business and how it affects workers.
WorkCover Queensland, Customer Services Manager, Tammy Kangas who manages the construction industry says Leighton Contractors used occupational physicians to assess each role to gather information on all aspects of a task.
“They looked at the different ways the body was used and any possible strain that may occur for the worker,” Tammy said.
Once this process was complete, criteria was developed for rating risks into low, medium and high categories. This criterion was then linked with a pre-employment medical check to identify any tasks that may have proven difficult on a case by case base.
Doctors were able to use the risk rating categories to create a return to work strategy, meaning workers could be on the road to recovery sooner.
“This proactive move allowed open and regular communication with all parties involved in the claim process, including doctors. This helped the worker return to their pre-injury role as soon as possible, or placed them in suitable duties if they could not return to their pre-injury role,” Tammy added.
Since the establishment of the risk rating, there have been zero claims for workers in the first three to six months of employment. For Leighton and its workers, this means a safer workplace. It also means a massive reduction in their premium.
With the worker at the top of mind, Leighton was able to establish a system that was beneficial for everyone. Collaboration from all aspects of the business allowed the injury management program to go from strength to strength and develop a positive safety culture.
Mark says other large employers can improve their safety and injury management outcomes by having a planned WHS strategy.
“It's important to have an efficient training system that assists workers in their jobs. Managers should support this approach and ensure their worker's safety and wellbeing is at the forefront,” Mark said.
“Employers have the opportunity to evaluate their workplace and identify ways they can reduce risks for staff. It is about working together to ensure all parties have a similar goal in mind to create a safer work environment for all,” Tammy said.
Leighton Contractors are a great example of a company being proactive with their workplace health and safety plan to ensure workers safety is at the top of mind. For more information on the strategies Leighton Contractors have implemented to significantly reduce their premium, watch the presentation by Mark Jacobs, Regional Health Services Superintendent.