When Caloundra-based marina infrastructure builders, The Jetty Specialist concluded that its workers' compensation premium and workplace injury claim costs were rising too rapidly, they turned to the one group who could make a positive difference to safety – its employees.
Established in 1986, The Jetty Specialist has expanded its operations to supply marine infrastructure and pedestrian bridge systems to residential, commercial and government agency clients and now employs 60 staff across manufacturing and installation.
But with rapid growth, The Jetty Specialist was also experiencing a high volume of manual handling injuries to backs and hands as employees pushed too hard to keep up with customer demands.
For Lea Scott, The Jetty Specialist's Business Manager, the best way to stop the organisation's injury rate was to encourage everyone to talk about and own safety in the workplace by improving their injury management processes.
'Our annual WorkCover premium was increasing to a level we were not comfortable with, so we needed to take serious steps to change our safety culture,' Lea said.
Between 2016 and mid-2018, The Jetty Specialist participated in the Injury Prevention and Management (IPaM) Program, a joint initiative from WorkCover Queensland and Workplace Health and Safety Queensland to help Queensland employers develop improved injury prevention and injury management and return to work systems.
During this period, the organisation formalised a range of workplace health and safety processes including pre-planning of all work activities to ensure adequate resourcing and task-specific training; risk analysis of work activities conducted by foremen, supervisors and workers; and a stronger incident reporting focus across the business.
As a result, The Jetty Specialist has reduced its workers' compensation premium by around 50% (below the average premium rate for all organisations in their industry) and achieved a more than 96% reduction in injury claim costs.
'Safety is now embedded in everything our employees do, right from induction through to on-the-job supervision and mentoring.
'We ensure our recruitment process is focused on a qualified workforce with safety induction and training ongoing,' Lea explained.
In the event of a workplace injury, The Jetty Specialist is well equipped to prioritise return to work. The business encourages early and clear communication between the worker, health professionals and WorkCover and reviews job qualifications to identify appropriate suitable duties which can promote work hardening.
Thorough incident investigation procedures and corrective action reports are also prepared for the organisation's CEO. In addition, a designated workplace health and safety officer is employed to communicate safety alerts, ensure on-site safety manual compliance and reward and recognise staff during half yearly safety BBQs for reporting incidents and potential safety hazards.
The Jetty Specialist has also introduced practices to identify and prevent injuries early by engaging all sections of its workforce, regardless of their seniority.
'Making sure that our employees clearly understand and respect that safety and safe workplace practices are everyone's responsibility has been a huge positive for the business,' Lea said.
'Now that we're encouraging a team reporting environment where it is OK to speak up, we're seeing a positive rise in hazard and incident identification and prevention opportunities.
'We also make sure to celebrate our safety successes by sharing our injury rate improvement with staff,' she said.
Reflecting on the significant safety transformation The Jetty Specialist has achieved in two years, Lea Scott firmly believes that consultation with employees and visible management commitment to protecting workers is essential to ensuring a safe workplace.
'We've been really pleased that all our employees have valid safety solutions to share. They just needed to be engaged on a daily basis and be reassured that the business will support them with the right resources, safe work practices and encouraging supervision,' she said.