In July 2010, Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ) and WorkCover Queensland introduced the Injury Prevention and Management (IPaM) program, designed to help businesses develop better workplace health, safety and injury management systems.
In 2011, Goldsteins Bakery was invited to participate in IPaM. Goldsteins has been operating since 1944 and the business has grown significantly over time.
In recent years, Goldsteins experienced a high number of workers' compensation statutory and common law claims. In response, the company has introduced some simple yet effective safety consultation processes.
Why is consultation important?
Consultation with workers and other duty holders must underpin all work health and safety activities.
Consultation is a legal requirement and an essential part of managing health and safety risks.
Effective work health and safety consultation also creates:
- greater awareness and commitment—workers who have been actively involved in health and safety decisions will better understand and 'own' the decisions
- positive relationships—understanding the views of others leads to greater cooperation and trust.
How did Goldsteins Bakery improve their consultation?
Goldsteins now engages with all levels of staff across the company through its consultation process. Consultation was improved by:
- implementing monthly 30-45 minute management tool box meetings
- advertising for work health and safety representatives to improve communication and consultation across the workforce
- implementing a safety suggestion box where employees can anonymously raise safety concerns they have, and submit new ideas to help reduce injuries.
By consulting with workers and reviewing their safety and injury management systems, Goldsteins identified specific areas requiring attention, including trip hazards, electrical problems, faulty conveyor wheels, a guarding hazard, security lighting, hazardous manual tasks and the need for safety reporting processes.
Improvements implemented included the following:
- A sensor flood light was installed along the path from the car park to reduce the risk of tripping.
- Security lighting was also installed to improve the sense of safety for the workforce.
- New emergency lights were installed throughout the factory to rectify identified electrical problems with the existing lights.
- Guarding was installed on mixing equipment to eliminate the risk of an employee coming into contact with moving parts.
- Induction training for new staff and revision training for existing staff was improved to incorporate work health and safety. Examples of new training topics include workplace health and safety duties, emergency procedures, work procedures and site specific hazard and control information.
- New swivel wheels were installed on a sausage roll conveyor, significantly reducing the forceful exertions required to move the conveyor.
- A participative ergonomics program for manual tasks (PErforM) is being implemented.
- New forms were developed for reporting safety incidents and hazards, and training for use of these forms was given to staff.
- A testing and tagging system was implemented for racks with defective wheels, minimising the potential injury risks from manoeuvring faulty racks.
- A pole in the middle of the racking stops hot trays slipping forward.
- A vertical pole was attached to the middle of the racks to stop hot trays slipping forward when the racks are moved.
- A qualified rehabilitation and return to work officer was appointed and suitable duties and return to work planning were established. Goldsteins also established a relationship with a local general practitioner.
Goldsteins' WorkCover claims experience is now better than others in in their industry.
The company reports the improved communication and engagement between employers and management has resulted in significant benefits for the business.
The staff have been more confident to bring up issues and Goldsteins are experiencing an improved focus in thinking about safety.
Company owner Martin Goldstein said, 'the responsibility is back onto management to follow up the ideas, otherwise the workers will lose interest. The tool box talks have led to so many good ideas—workers identify simple solutions to everyday issues'.
This case study highlights cost effective and achievable steps that employers can implement to prevent workplace injuries while improving injury management outcomes.
For more information about injury prevention and management, and resources to improve your business's injury prevention and management systems call the WHS Infoline on 1300 369 915 or WorkCover Queensland on 1300 651 387. You can also visit the IPaM web pages.