Modern Teaching Aids (MTA) is the largest supplier of school, childcare and teacher resources in Australia. MTA owns and operates over 20,000 square kilometres of warehouse space and employs up to 200 people.
What was the problem?
MTA was invited to join the Injury Prevention and Management (IPaM) program in 2013 after experiencing a higher than average number of worker's compensation claims.
With the help of its IPaM advisor, MTA conducted a staff survey which identified that workers did not feel supported or valued by MTA, and as a consequence, contributed to a significant number of claims.
MTA's Distribution Manager, Mark Warner, was also concerned about the unhealthy lifestyle habits of staff. 'Workers will often start the day with a can of coke, a meat pie and a cigarette', Mr Warner said.
MTA saw this as an opportunity to help its employees get healthier, as well as demonstrate commitment and provide support to reduce claims.
What was the solution?
After asking workers about the health issues that were important to them, MTA established a healthy worker initiative that focused on physical activity, healthy eating and quitting smoking. The initiative included:
- on-site fitness classes such as yoga and box-fit before work
- healthy breakfast smoothies offered to workers at a reduced price
- 'fresh fruit Friday' where MTA supplies a fruit platter for workers to encourage an increase in fruit and vegetable consumption.
MTA also invited workers and their partners to participate in the Queensland Health Quit Smoking Initiative prior to implementing a smoke-free workplace policy. Eight MTA workers and three worker's partners have participated in the quit smoking program to date.
What are the benefits?
The healthy worker initiative has been running for nine months at MTA and already there has been an increase in employees' health and wellbeing and a reduction in claims.
'The program has improved relationships at the workplace and employees realise that we care about them and their wellbeing', Mr Warner said.
Workers have also reported that the fitness classes have helped build stronger social networks and improved employee interpersonal relationships.
'Having the morning fitness classes box-fit and yoga have helped many people come together—not just working out but with communication throughout the warehouse'. MTA staff member.
The emotional wellbeing of employees and general employee morale has also improved. As worker Craig Chessum said, 'I've noticed that since completing the IPaM program, the warehouse feels safer and less people are getting injured. Staff also seem a lot happier coming to work since MTA started the fitness groups'.
The physical activity classes have also improved employee punctuality and readiness for work. Several employees have reported that they feel energised and more ready to take on the working day following the fitness class.
MTA found that the key to success of the health and wellness initiative was management commitment, employee dedication and consulting with workers prior to implementation of the program.
In the long term, MTA hopes that its health and wellness initiative leads to sustained behavioural change and a reduction in the number of unhealthy workers, thereby reducing costs associated with absenteeism and injuries.
What makes this story worth sharing?
MTA recognised that its work health and safety issues were partially caused by their employees not feeling supported or engaged with the workplace. MTA thought outside the box and encouraged greater worker participation by implementing simple, low cost initiatives that have helped staff achieve healthier lifestyles—a win-win situation.
For injury prevention and management information and resources:
- Visit: www.worksafe.qld.gov.au.
- Call: 1300 362 128.