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.
National Glass is a wholesale supplier and processor of glass products for residential and commercial building and construction.
In recent years, the company has experienced a high number of workers' compensation statutory and common law claims.
High turnover of staff was making it difficult to address safety issues across its branches, and a significant spike in injuries to new workers was noted. As a result of their injury history, National Glass was invited to participate in the IPaM program. At the same time, it was working with an external auditor to address safety issues.
- Beyond Zero safety program
- National Glass developed and implemented a new safety program, Beyond Zero, that embeds safety as a core business priority.
- Beyond Zero has a focus on management commitment and support, and empowers staff at all levels to engage in a range of activities to improve work health and safety.
The greatest challenge for Beyond Zero was engaging with staff. The initiative addressed this by identifying staff to become safety leaders and trainers. National Glass also identified inconsistencies in how injuries were being managed across their various work sites.
Beyond Zero has three key elements:
- consultation and communication
- hazard identification and reporting
- an ongoing audit program with a plan of action.
Management commitment and support are cornerstones of Beyond Zero. National Glass recognised that management commitment sets the foundation for a safe and healthy workplace, and that employers who demonstrate commitment to safety are more likely to have their staff engage and follow their lead in sound work health and safety practices.
Trust is an inherent part of the initiative. National Glass recognised that it can take years to build and seconds to destroy. All it takes is one leader to be seen ignoring a safety issue to have a negative impact, so it is essential that managers and supervisors lead by example.
Beyond Zero phases
Beyond Zero has three phases. Phase one was rolled out early in 2012, with phase two planned for 2013 and phase three for 2014. Phase one focused on proactive and positive safety activities:
- Supervisors and managers were educated about their legal and corporate responsibilities and accountabilities.
- Supervisors and managers were provided with a range of simple and practical tools—such as a template for safety toolbox talks—that drive and reinforce hazard identification and safety procedures in the workplace.
- Consistent safety policies and procedures were developed and implemented across the company.
- A survey was conducted to help identify staff concerns. Issues were addressed immediately and actions communicated to all staff.
- Key safety messages are now delivered at the start of all meetings to keep them top-of-mind for all staff.
- A new communication policy, incident investigation procedure, checklist for risks and corrective actions register were developed and implemented. All corrective actions are now announced on a notice board.
- Internal branch safety awards were developed to encourage staff to bring new ideas to the table and empower them to take responsibility for safety in their daily jobs.
- Controls were implemented to manage risks that were resulting in injuries, for example increasing the height of bench tops to reduce awkward postures.
- Each work site now has a medical centre that has information on available suitable duties and the type of roles workers perform. National Glass has invitedpractitioners to inspect its sites so the provider has a better understanding of the work environment and workers' tasks.
- A WorkCover Queensland customer advisor visited National Glass work sites to discuss risks and common injuries and to help the organisation to develop strategies to prevent injuries and minimise workers' compensation claims.
By focusing on injury prevention and management, National Glass has reduced workers' compensation claims, achieved savings in premium, and improved return to work outcomes for its workers.
Since the roll out of phase one of Beyond Zero, National Glass has reduced its injury rates by more than 66 per cent across all three branches of the company. Its performance in returning workers to work and keeping them at work has also significantly improved.
- the average number of days before an injured worker returns to work is now four (previously 53 days in 2011)
- the percentage of workers that stay at work on alternative duties after a workplace injury has increased to 85.71 per cent (a 10 per cent increase from 2011).
- National Glass has achieved a significant culture shift and a vast improvement in staff retention and productivity.
- Beyond Zero has driven and developed a positive and safe workplace, and in doing so has improved profitability.