In July 2010, Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ) and WorkCover Queensland introduced the Injury Prevention and Management
(IPaM) program, designed to assist businesses to develop better workplace health, safety and injury management systems.
Holy Cross Laundry (HCL) is a commercial laundry that processes approximately 90 tonnes of soiled linen per week and employs approximately 175 workers, including 38 workers with an intellectual disability.
In recent years, HCL had experienced a high rate of workers' compensation claims. In response, the company has introduced changes to how workers at all levels communicate about work health and safety (WHS), and changed the way they measure their WHS performance.
Communication and consultation
HCL's senior managers recognised the importance of effective consultation and communication about WHS. They implemented a number of initiatives to improve communication at all levels, including:
- regular WHS committee meetings
- frequent toolbox talks
- improved WHS contractor management processes
- improved WHS reporting mechanisms.
Measuring WHS performance
In the past, HCL measured WHS performance solely by outcome indicators such as injury rates and claims costs. However, outcome indicators do not reflect the causes of injuries (only the injuries themselves), and often do not reflect the level of risk. Under-reporting of incidents can also occur due to peer pressure to keep these rates low.
Positive performance indicators (PPIs)
Through participating in IPaM, HCL became more aware of the limitations of relying exclusively on outcomes based reporting and has expanded its WHS performance measures to include positive and proactive WHS initiatives as well.
Positive performance indicators (PPIs) focus on assessing the success of an organisation's WHS performance by monitoring the processes that produce good WHS outcomes. PPIs focus on preventative workplace activities and can be used to help develop improvement strategies.
In consultation with managers and the WHS committee, HCL chose a mix of relevant PPIs and outcome indicators to measure its WHS performance. It now reports monthly on the number of injuries, near misses and non injury related incidents that occur (outcome indicators), as well as the number of risk assessments, 'fix it' forms, toolbox talks and hazard inspection reports completed (PPIs).
One PPI that HCL implemented was a toolbox talk focused on workplace bullying.
- defined workplace bullying and clarified the types of behaviours that constitute workplace bullying
- highlighted the importance of managing bullying proactively
- outlined the systems HCL has in place to manage bullying, and the appropriate steps to take and what support is available to workers exposed to bullying.
As a result of the toolbox talk, one team member sought advice and successfully resolved a personal issue. Further feedback on this topic demonstrated that some team members did not realise exactly what could constitute workplace bullying.
Monitoring and recording WHS activities and initiatives allows management and workers to assess the effectiveness of their WHS initiatives more easily. HCL believes that using PPIs as well as outcome indicators to measure WHS performance will assist to raise the profile and promote the importance of good WHS practices.
As a result of participating in IPaM and implementing other positive WHS initiatives—including employing a consultation occupational therapist— HCL is already seeing improvements in its stay at work outcomes. In 2008/09, its stay at work rate was 31.82 per cent; this has now improved to 61.54 per cent. The average paid days (claim duration) has also decreased from 53.43 in 2011, to 30.75 in 2012.