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This case study demonstrates:

  • By implementing safety programs and initiatives, Metcash reduces the number of injuries while giving their employees credit for ensuring a safe work environment.

Metcash employs about 1 200 people in Queensland and is a leading marketing and distribution company, operating in the grocery and liquor wholesale industries. There are four business pillars in the organisation including Australian Liquor Marketers, Campbells Wholesale, IGA Distribution and IGA Fresh.

In 2009, Metcash employed an occupational health nurse (OHN) and a rehabilitation and return to work (RRTW) coordinator at their main distribution centre in Crestmead, Queensland. The Crestmead distribution centre historically had more injuries and WorkCover claims than all of the regional sites.

The purpose of the OHN role is to assess employees, provide initial treatment at the time of the injury or where necessary, book appointments with the injured worker's treating doctor within a short time of the injury occurring. This has reduced the number of employees who go home after their workplace injury or who don't see a doctor until several days following the injury. In addition, the OHN liaises with treating doctors on suitable duties and return to work plans to get the worker back to work as soon as possible.

Metcash implements ICARE, an injury management program that aims at effectively assisting the rehabilitation and return to work of injured employees. Metcash also uses other processes for educating staff on the positive benefits of rehabilitation and return to work. They do this through their induction program, which includes information on the ICARE injury management procedures and employees are signed off on tool box talks about reporting injuries. There is a designated injury management folder available to all employees with information on Metcash's rehabilitation and return to work processes. A rehabilitation policy is kept on the notice board and at the time of injury, the employee is given a claims pack. This includes information on Metcash's rehabilitation procedures, includes an ICARE brochure and information on how their doctor may advise on a suitable duties plan or alternative duties in the event that the employee is unable to return to pre-injury duties.

All levels of management support Metcash's positive return to work culture, which includes being involved in each step of the rehabilitation process. Management encourages early reporting of all injuries and illnesses so they can be resolved in the best way for the employee and with minimal disruption.

Even though the various Metcash sites of operation differ greatly, as do the types of injuries and rehabilitation required, the managers strive to source meaningful suitable duties within the worker's restrictions. Managers stay in touch with their employees during periods of incapacity or restricted working hours to make sure they feel part of the team.

If a worker is injured, Metcash encourages open communication with all parties including the injured worker, the RRTW coordinator, WorkCover Queensland and treating health professionals. Metcash have also introduced a Safety Excellence Program, which recognises excellence in safety. This aims at developing a safety culture while achieving a high level of safety standards across all Metcash sites.

Each site is audited on key performance indicators relating to safety and workers' compensation, together with other specific markers. Sites can aim to achieve the levels of bronze, silver, gold or platinum. The program gives the sites credit for all the work that goes into ensuring a safe workplace for their employees and that injury management processes are followed to achieve excellent return to work outcomes.

In Queensland, Metcash has seen significant decreases in the number of lost time injuries, the number of lost hours, total claims cost and the total claim duration. It contributes these results to their various safety programs and the overall workplace safety culture Metcash and its workers uphold.