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Company slashes workers’ comp claim costs

Airline handling service provider Oceania Aviation has cut its workers' compensation claim costs by 47 percent in just two years thanks to a major safety overhaul which was embarked upon when its premium costs came close to double the industry average.

Oceania Aviation was referred to the Queensland Government's Injury Prevention and Management (IPaM) program by WorkCover Queensland to help get its claim rates down and improve worker safety. Besides slashing its premium nearly in half, the company has cut its days lost to injury from 83 in 2014-15 to just seven in 2017-18, with no new common law claims.

Oceania now has a more proactive approach to injured worker rehabilitation and return to work, impressing staff and managers who have seen the benefits and savings. It also has developed in-house information in line with WorkCover Queensland's injury management protocols, with injured workers given information to take to medical practitioners on suitable duties options.

The IPaM involvement saw an external consultant physiotherapist visit all work sites and conduct education sessions on manual handling, addressing specific issues at each site. Significant work on the consultation process meant one on one meetings with all staff members were carried out to discuss work safety concerns, with a safety committee now up and running and safety champions appointed at all sites.

Reporting on incidents and near miss reporting also has been a highlight, with a 400 percent increase, and greater use of safety audit tools also is being investigated. All parts of the business are now under the one reporting process, obtaining better quality data that is being reviewed each month and reports being generated to be shared with staff at toolbox talks.

Corporate work safety knowledge has improved by developing online alert updates but with hard copies also available for each site to be discussed at the tool box meetings. Compliance with safe work method statements and procedures has been stepped up, with workers told not to take short cuts to avoid airline flight delays (management will handle any delay issues).

WHSQ's Participative Ergonomics for Manual Tasks (PErforM) program also has played a role in the turnaround. Safety manager David McCue, who has driven the overhaul, also completed the PErforM program, which is now being used by Oceania to assist in the development of ideas to overcome manual task issues.