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Council of the City of Gold Coast (PErforM program)

In this webinar presentation, Sharon Vandermaat, Business and Compliance Facilitator, will discuss how the Council of the City of Gold Coast implemented the Participative Ergonomic for Manual Tasks (PErforM) program into the branch , as well as the benefits that have been realised as a result of the integration.

Watch the recording of the webinar, or download the presentation (PDF, 2.82 MB).

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Council of the City of Gold Coast: City Maintenance Branch PErforM Program Implementation

Webinar - 10 November 2015

Presented by:

Chair: Allicia Bailey - Manager, Engagement Services, Workers' Compensation Regulator

Speaker: Sharon Vandermaat - Business and Compliance Facilitator, Council of the City of Gold Coast

Allicia Bailey:

Good afternoon everyone. Thank you for joining us and welcome to today's webinar with the Council of the City of Gold Coast. The topic and expert speaker for the session is brought to you by the Office of Industrial Relations which is comprised of the Electrical Safety Office, Workplace Health and Safety Queensland and the Workers' Compensation Regulator. Just to let you know, the Office of Industrial Relations is committed to driving initiatives across the whole scheme that improves safety, well-being and return to work outcomes for both employers and workers. Today's session is a specific initiative of Workplace Health and Safety Queensland and will explore how they implemented the PErforM Program.

I am Allicia Bailey. I'm the Manager of Engagement Services for the Workers' Compensation Regulator and I will be your facilitator for today's webinar. Just before I introduce you to Sharon Vandermaat our expert presenter for today, I just have a couple of quick tips for you to make the most out of today's session.

Just as a heads-up, the presentation will go for approximately 50 minutes. At the end of the presentation, there will be an opportunity for you to interact with Sharon and ask questions of her so we encourage you to make the most of this opportunity. So at any time during the presentation, if you do have a question, please use the chat box on the right hand side of the screen and we'll collate these and answer as many as we can towards the end.

A copy of this webinar will be emailed through to you and it will be available on our website so feel free to share the resource with any of your networks that you feel may benefit from today's webinar. If you do experience any audio issues, please again use the chat box on the right hand side of the screen and let us know what your problem is and we have our IT experts on hand to assist just to make sure that you don't miss out. So with the housework done, let's get straight into it.

In this webinar presentation, Sharon Vandermaat, Business and Compliance Facilitator, will discuss how the Council of the City of Gold Coast implemented the PErforM Program into the branch which stands for the Participative Ergonomic for Manual Tasks and the benefits that have been realised as a result of its integration. Sharon has been managing workers' compensation claims since 1985 before moving into a dedicated safety role in 2003. Sharon has worked for the Council of the City of Gold Coast for seven years and, prior to that, in international and national roles within workplace health and safety. Sharon's roles have been predominantly in maintenance and construction with a years spent in tourism also.

So, with that being settled, I will now hand you over to Sharon who will present on the innovative PErforM Program.

Sharon Vandermaat:

Thank you Allicia. Just a little bit about the City Maintenance Branch. So City Maintenance is the largest branch within the Council of the City of Gold Coast. Because of the work we do, we are also the branch with the largest number of worker injuries. Council had already adopted the Participative Ergonomic for Manual Tasks - PErforM Program. In our branch, we embraced it and then imbedded it further. Council had trained all of its supervisors in the PErforM Program. What we decided to do was focus on further upskilling some individuals that had a keen interest in safety and wanted to improve their processes. I will explain more later about who they are and how they were chosen.

The program has been running successfully in the City Maintenance Branch for over two years now with really great results. Our process has most recently been rolled out to the Gold Coast Water and City Infrastructure Directorates. The program has also been included in the Council-wide objectives and targets for 2016/17 as a relaunch, again using the process I've developed. Our Directorate Safety Committee now has a standard agenda item to share PErforM updates. We also have a bi-monthly informal catch-up with just the Directorate PErforM facilitators. What we have found is that there is a benefit in sharing what someone might be doing in, for instance, our Parks and Landscape crews with say our Roads and Drainage crews. Because we are such a large city, it is sometimes difficult to get together and share information so this forum gives us that opportunity.

So what is PErforM? It is important to understand that PErforM is about focusing on the task and not on an individual. We convey this to our PErforM facilitators during their training as it is easy to look at what and how a certain person undertakes a task, when in reality we have multiple teams across the city doing the same task. The PErforM facilitator must be a person that is genuinely interested in making our workplace safer and someone that is a good communicator and has an eye for detail. A lot of our tasks involve heavy lifting. We needed facilitators that were actively engaged with the workers and ideally part of a work crew themselves and constantly seeking to find solutions that will eliminate or at least minimise the need for lifting.

Just a little bit of an overview of our City Maintenance Branch. We've got 580 staff. Most of them - approximately 500 - are outside workers predominantly doing a lot of hazardous manual tasks. We've got four sections with the branch - Roads, Drainage and Foreshores, Parks and Landscape Maintenance, City Cleaning and our Building Maintenance Branch. So what we do? Parks and Landscape as the name describes look after mulching, planting, pruning, hedging, knapsack spraying, weeding, whipper snippering, turfing etc. Our Roads, Drainage and Foreshores crew - concrete screeding, breaking up old concrete, racking bitumen, digging, kerb and channel work. Then our City Cleaning crews - picking up litter, manually emptying rubbish bins, long periods sitting in a truck, and Building Maintenance - these are generally our carpenters - carrying and lifting of ladders, crawling through restricted spaces (ceilings, under buildings), long periods crouching.

So how were we going to identify hazardous manual tasks? We put out a survey to all of our City Maintenance staff in January 2013 asking three simple questions. What are the jobs that you go home from feeling a bit sore? What jobs that you do are you most afraid of getting hurt from? And the last question - What are the jobs that you do involving manual handling that stop you wanting to come to work?

So just a bit of a look at the results of that survey. The response to the first question - hedging and mulching came out on top - activities undertaken by our Parks and Landscape crews. These activities also align to our workers' compensation data. The second question - again activities conducted by our Parks and Landscape crews came out on top. Finally, the last question results - again mulching and also picking up of pandanus leaves came out in this question. The pandanus leaves are really large strappy leaves that have to be picked up by hand as they wrap themselves around the mower blades. The answer to this one came from the Parks and Landscape crews themselves. They asked us to stop planting them in the grassy areas of parks and instead plant in the garden beds or on the sand dunes where the leaf fall was not a problem.

Our field workers generally nominated the representatives to undertake the PErforM risk assessments. We call them PErforM facilitators. We have seven in the Maintenance Branch. Most of them are members of work crews and have undertaken many of the tasks so they've got a very good understanding of the manual handling involved. Some of them are supervisors but those that are part of work crews tend to be the most active in identifying issues.

So after the survey results were collated, we compared them to the injury statistics for the previous two years. This was to prioritise the issues for review. If they were on both lists, they went to the top of the list that was given to the PErforM facilitators. They took their lists to conduct the PErforM risk assessments in the field by observing the task and recording their findings on the body map that is on the risk assessment tool. That is shown a little bit later.

Here's a look at our time line. So In January/February 2013 we sent out the survey to the staff and March and April were spent collating the survey feedback. During May and June, we selected and trained our PErforM facilitators and then in July of that same year the PErforM facilitators hit the field and began undertaking the PErforM risk assessments.

This slide shows the risk assessment part of the PErforM risk assessment tool. This tool is available on the WHSQ website. The PErforM facilitators are trained to identify the manual task risk factors highlighted on the slide, how to assess the risk and discuss possible control measures with the work teams. Part of the assessment involves identifying the body parts that are affected and then rating the different risk factors. So scores of 4 or 5 indicate the problem areas where controls need to be focused. This is useful also for re-evaluation as well so that we can see if the risk has been minimised.

The PErforM facilitators lead the discussions with the work crew and supervisor on site to assess the task and determine suggested improvements. The proposed control measures are recorded on the risk assessment tool which is below the body map. They may involve sourcing and trialling a new piece of equipment or a change to a process. The group will generally go through the existing procedure for the task and offer any updates or changes for consideration. In fact, this is a very good way to review the procedures to ensure that they are accurate.

We did tweak the program slightly. Initially I spent time with each of the facilitators visiting the crews on site to view the task. This allowed the workers, as the experts in undertaking the task, to explain to me what they were doing while demonstrating how the task was done. Once they understood that I was not there to tell them how they should be doing the task safely but to seek their advice on how they thought that it should be done safely, they came forward with all of the answers. Some of the suggested control measures they told me had been put forward in the past but nothing had ever happened. I assured them that this program was different and gave them my personal commitment that the PErforM facilitator would get back to them with an outcome for all of the options that they put forward.

For example, our first win was with the Roads and Drainage bitumen crew. They use a compactor that weighs approximately 70 kilos to compact the bitumen when they fill a pothole. It was housed in a cradle under the tray of the bitumen truck. The only way to load the compactor was for one of the workers to manually lift it using two fingers hooked through a small bracket and, because of the tight space, then try to swing it into the cradle. The PErforM facilitator, Sean, was a member of this crew. He researched the possibility of having a hydraulic lifter installed. The crew were really overjoyed with the response from Sean and the hydraulic lifter was installed shortly afterward. This followed with a request from the same crew to have a look at the tarpaulin and possibly fit it with a push button to automatically wind it on and off instead of physically having to turn the handle on the winder. A simple and easy fix. Before PErforM came along, they would have simply put up with this as a small inconvenience and no one brought it to the attention of their supervisor, but because Sean was there and was part of the work crew, it was easy.

We already had a process in place for recording improvement notices into our risk management system. I didn't want to create a new process so I've integrated the recording of PErforM information into what we already had. Control measures are entered into our risk management system as an action with a proposed date for completion. An automatic email is generated and sent to the work area coordinator to advise them that the task has been assessed and the PErforM facilitator will soon be calling them to discuss the proposed improvements. The PErforM facilitators are allocated an appropriate timeframe in the action determined by what the improvement might be to allow them time to research and investigate.

The coordinators are fully supportive of the program and I've even had comments from them like "Why has no one ever told me before that this was a problem?" and "I am so much more aware of what the workers face on a day to day basis thanks to this program". The lines of communication have really opened. One PErforM facilitator commented that he said good morning to his coordinator every morning but really didn't know how to strike up a conversation with him. They've sure got a lot to talk about now. The PErforM Program has allowed these relationships to develop and has further enhanced and improved our safety culture.

So just to further elaborate, I used our existing incident database rather than introduce a new process or buy new software. Some of you may be familiar with Myosh and the action module. So once a task is identified by either observation, a worker raising a concern, an incident or near miss or an audit etc, I'll raise an action in Myosh for the PErforM facilitator to conduct the PErforM risk assessment on the task. I will usually give them one month to do this. The action module allows me to allocate them as the responsible person and their manager or line manager as the accountable person. They both will receive an automatically generated email immediately and then again one week prior to the due date if no action has been taken. If the action becomes overdue, the email will automatically escalate to the Director. The managers generally make sure that this doesn't happen.

Once the tasks have been assessed, the PErforM facilitator will note the proposed control measures on the bottom of the risk assessment and then send it back to me. I will close that action and raise a new action for the control measures and allocate appropriate timeframes. This might involve a three month trial of a new piece of equipment. It might be a change to a process but a period of consultation with key stakeholders might be required. It might be researching new tools that have come onto the market. It could be an update to a procedure. But not all proposed control measures are adopted and if they are not, a record of why is attached to the action which also must include the communication back to the work group with the reasons why.

Here's a look at some of the photographs. This is a picture of the worker lifting the 70 kilo compactor using just two fingers - certainly an accident waiting to happen.

This is a photograph of the bitumen truck now showing the hydraulic lifter. The worker simply slides the compactor onto the lowered plate, presses the button and the lifter does all of the work.

This picture shows the mechanical concrete screed which weighs 15 kilograms. The arms at the side simply slide up for storage on the work vehicle. Look at the awkward posture of the worker bending over to screed in the top corner. Such a difference this one has made.

This picture shows the side panel of the Parks and Landscape crew truck. The toolbox is located at the front of the tray. It is accessed up to 10 times a day as the crews move around to different jobs. Previously the whole side panel needed to be lowered and lifted each time the worker needed to get to his tools. This was such an easy fix - simply split the side panel so only the small section covering the tool box needs to be opened and closed. Here's a picture of the finished product.

These pictures show the aqua harvester operator seated in the vessel. The aqua harvester is used to harvest excess weed or algae bloom from our lakes and waterways within the city. This seat now provides the operator with suspension to reduce whole body vibration, adjustable lumbar support and back rest angle adjustment. It has been made a huge difference.

The Molendinar rubbish bin flaps. These cover the large industrial bins that fit onto the back of the semi-trailer. Previously these flaps were the length of the two of the flaps that you can see now in this photo and were made of really heavy steel. These have now been reduced to half the size and made of a lighter alloy.

Again, this was one was an easy fix. The City Cleaning - Public Area cleaning crews visit each of the toilet blocks in the parks around the Gold Coast and also the barbeque areas. The photo shows the fitout of their vehicle with a shelf installed at the back to hold the chemicals that they use daily to clean the facilities. The shelf has raised the 20 kilogram drums up. They have a tap at the bottom allowing the workers to decant to smaller bottles to use when cleaning. Prior to the PErforM assessment, the drums were having to be dragged from the back of the truck over other equipment to the edge of the tray to fill the smaller bottles. This has completely eliminated the need to drag the drums. When they need to be replaced, they are simply loaded at the depot by trolley and then moved to the vehicle with one simple slide into the tray. It probably costs around $3,000 to do this type of fitout to the vehicle.

The town bin replacement - this has been one of our biggest wins. The smaller 60 to 80 litres bins pictured at the top of the slide hold approximately 60 to 80 kilograms of rubbish. These needed to be emptied up to four times a day during busy periods. The internal insert would need to be manually lifted out and emptied into a larger 240 litre wheelie bin. This task presented several problems, not just a manual handling aspect. As mentioned, the bins needed to be emptied regularly during busy times, usually during school holiday seasons, which meant that the parks were full of families so there were usually no parking spaces close by in which to park the rubbish truck. This could lead to a level of frustration for the truck driver trying to find a park up to four times a day. The wheelie bins also would need to be dragged or pushed further to the truck. The worker needed to be very mindful of the activities and the park users especially the movement of young children.

The answer was to replace the town bins with the larger 240 litre bins which only needed to be emptied once a day and could be wheeled to the truck, hydraulically lifted and emptied. There is a photograph at the bottom of the slide showing that housing. This has improved efficiency and, when carried out early in the morning, eliminated the parking issues as well as minimising the interactions with the park users. This one has been such a big win for us. During 2012 alone, direct costs for manual handling injuries to City Cleaning workers amounted to $260,000 with 628 days lost, to almost half at $134,000 and 273 days lost in 2014. To the end of June this year, so far again we've seen an outstanding improvement with the cost of claims being just over $18,000 and 25 days lost. So far we've replaced 65 bins at a cost of $1,500 each totalling $97,500. If our claims costs were to stay the same as before PErforM was implemented, we can say that we've saved $368,000 in workers' compensation payments. This means we are already ahead by over $270,000 just on this one project.

Councillors changed the City Development rules to exclude the planting of hedges when new estates are established and also introduced a hedge removal program. If a worker identifies a hedge that they believe is putting them at risk of an injury, they report it to the asset owner and request removal. The City Development rules have also prohibited the installation of the small town bins from any new upgrades, for example, shopping malls or streetscape upgrades. The discussion with our town planners came about as a result of the PErforM survey and the comparison with our past incident data. Once it was highlighted that these tasks were a cause of concern, meaningful discussion ensued and the end result was a win-win for all. We have also fitted lifting cranes to our trucks that pick up illegally dumped rubbish, broken concrete, heavy generators and equipment etc and, where possible, light weight battery operated hand tools are used instead of heavier petrol operated models.

We are currently trialling the use of an electric wheelbarrow within our Roads and Drainage section. These are not meant for everyday use but will be used for jobs that might involve having to wheel heavy items, such as concrete, up and down an embankment or over uneven terrain as it has a throttle and brake system. During the trial, it has also proved successful for use when cleaning out a drain of silt and debris that is only accessed by an easement between two houses, too small to fit a vehicle or a machine. It has also been used to barrow 8 to 10 loads of wet concrete again when access by a concrete truck or boom is not possible.

The City Cleaning staff are currently compiling a list of toilet facilities that have taps located at or below 30 centimetres with a view to having them lifted to 90 centimetres to eliminate the need for them to bend or squat to connect a hose. On a normal day they would visit up to 12 toilet blocks.

Allicia Bailey:

Sharon, can I just interrupt you there? Can I just ask you how does the electronic wheelbarrow work because I have a partner who is a carpenter and I'm sure he would be very interested in this little gadget. So how does it work? Is it remote or what are the mechanics of it?

Sharon Vandermaat:

The handles are similar to that of a motorbike where it has a throttle and a brake system. So obviously in the picture shown there, they're going down an incline with the wheelbarrow loaded so they can simply turn the handle and apply the brakes as they go down so that the load is not getting away from them and, similarly, if they're going up an incline, they can use the throttle so that it self-propels and there's no need for them to actually push it themselves.

So we've had some quick wins early on which the workers saw. This assisted greatly with gaining their confidence in the program. As you can see, they relate to improved culture, worker ownership and the proactive identification of risks. This is really important. We're actually improving the identification of the risks so that no one is being injured which is really important to us to get on top of before we injure someone and receive a claim.

The statistics - the all-important statistics. As PErforM facilitators commenced the risk assessments in July 2013, we didn't expect to see immediate results. So I started measuring from July 2014 and the results to date have just been amazing. So here's a look at our body stressing claims - costs of claims and number of claims. So the first bar is quarter three of 2014. So, for example, July, August and September, with over $280,000 in workers' compensation paid to date and 16 claims for body stressing. The last bar is the same period this year with less than $20,000 paid out and only one claim. It is important to note though that there may still be tail claims that are yet to be lodged so this figure will probably increase but most definitely will not reach the heady heights that we had for the same period last year. The days lost - again comparing the same period last year to this year, we have gone from around 650 days lost to 8 days lost for body stressing. Simply amazing.

Strains and soft tissue injuries - again the same story. An amazing decrease in the number of claims and also costs there as well. Again the number of days lost has been falling significantly since the introduction of the PErforM Program. As a whole, I would say that it is not just the risk assessing of the tasks using the PErforM tool that has given us these amazing results, but it's been the whole improvement in communication, risk awareness at all levels and the complete safety culture improvement and this has all been brought about through the PErforM Program.

Thank you for listening to me talk. I'm happy to answer any questions.

Allicia Bailey:

Thank you so much Sharon for that insight and I think it's really valuable to have a practical example of these types of initiatives and the impact it can have for an organisation. I guess with these types of schemes and initiatives, cost is always a huge variable for staff themselves wanting to escalate these issues up to actually advocate to have something, you know, purchase that would actually improve the way in which they work and also for employers as well. The bottom dollar is always a huge impact in their decision making. How did you pitch these initiatives to management to get them on board? What difficulties did you experience with trying to get them to actually see that as a good investment to make for their workers?

Sharon Vandermaat:

So I mentioned during the first part of the PowerPoint, my manager was really on board with this program. We saw it as something that was really useful and really beneficial so he was very supportive from the start and, as I mentioned, the hydraulic lifter on the compactor for the bitumen truck was our first win. It cost next to nothing to actually have this installed. From there, it just snowballed from there. There were all of these simple things that cost next to nothing that came forward through this program that actually gave the workers the opportunity to highlight all of these simple low cost, easy things that made their life easy and improve processes. It just eliminated all of these issues with hardly any cost outlay.

So when it came time to actually spend a bit of money, it wasn't a problem. We'd already seen the benefits of the program and the reduction in our workers' compensation claims and cost of claims. So our bin replacement program cost nearly $100,000 but because of the wins we'd already had, no one blinked an eyebrow. It was just amazing.

Allicia Bailey:

Another question I have I guess is that your guys are obviously incredibly motivated in terms of pushing this program out in their roles as PErforM facilitators. Did you have a group of staff that were already actively engaged in safety and actively engaged in improvements or did you have to co-opt staff in taking on these roles more actively and what were the challenges with getting these guys into these positions?

Sharon Vandermaat:

Our PErforM facilitators were chosen from the field, or not so much chosen, but elected - put their hand up to be PErforM facilitators. We put out some information about what was involved in becoming PErforM facilitators. They weren't generally people that might have been on our Safety Committee or Health and Safety reps. They were just people interested in making a difference and were mostly people from different crews. They weren't people in leadership positions. They weren't supervisors or coordinators. They were part of the work crew and they were just interested. I suppose for some of them, they had answers to issues already but just didn't know how to put them forward and have someone listen so this was the opportunity for them to actually be able to speak to someone and get something done.

Allicia Bailey:

Thank you for that. I think it's a good example of how these types of programs give them an actual platform to have a voice and actually seeing the effects of putting something positive forward and actually seeing it happen and actually come to fruition which is great. We just had another good question come through - These are quite great examples of improvements in the workplace. Is there any other means for your council to share these ideas with other councils and who would possibly encounter the same challenges?

Sharon Vandermaat:

So much of what we do in Maintenance Branch is very manual, as I've shown in some of the photographs and described, but I can't see why anyone in construction or maintenance, for instance, our Roads and Drainage crews - there would be people all across Australia carrying out exactly the same tasks in other councils but not just in councils, private business as well. I can see so much benefit in this program for so many different organisations. It's just been phenomenal for us the improvements that it's made. But like I mentioned and I'd like to emphasise, it's not just the risk assessing of those tasks, it is the improvement in the whole culture. It's the opening up of the lines of communication.

As I mentioned, some of our line managers and coordinators didn't know about some of these things that were causing the workers concern. Now they've got that forum to be able to discuss these things. Sometimes it's just informal. The PErforM facilitator might not have actually received an action from me to undertake a risk assessment of a task. He might just bump into that coordinator in the depot for instance and have a discussion and they're able to sort it out there and then.

Allicia Bailey:

There's a lot of questions coming through. I guess we're still interested in how to motivate and how to recruit PErforM facilitators. So I guess how many facilitators did you start off with and are there any particular incentives attached to this type of role to keep them engaged, keep them motivated, or are these people with intrinsic safety motivations themselves?

Sharon Vandermaat:

As I mentioned, we've got about 580 staff, 500 out in the field. We started with seven PErforM facilitators and at the time of selecting the PErforM facilitators, I did have a discussion with my manager about paying them something similar to a first-aid allowance. But because we have so many people doing so many good things, not just with PErforM but there are other projects underway where people are putting in time and effort, we didn't think it would be fair to actually pay these people and not pay all of these other people that were doing good things. So what we had decided to do is promote them at every opportunity that we could.

Something that we have done each year since we began the PErforM Program was to actually buy them a ticket to the WHSQ Safety Week breakfast every year. So every year the PErforM facilitators attend that breakfast as a thank you from the manager for all of the hard that they've done during the year. We also don't miss an opportunity to put them forward for safety awards. We have monthly safety awards at work so I'm always putting them forward for all the good things that they've done and getting that formal recognition is really important for them because they are doing such a great job.

Allicia Bailey:

That's good to know. I think it's good that you've actually touched on food being a reward because that's always a good motivator for people. We've had a more questions again about sharing this knowledge and sharing these innovative ideas. So are there any methods in how these are actually shared because a lot of people are indicating to us that broadcasting these quick wins within the council can get some of those people who maybe a little bit more resistant or a bit old school in 'this is the way we've always done it' to get them on board with the initiative. So I know there is actually a PErforM network that is facilitated. There's a meeting if anyone who's participating in today's session is interested. It is on the 26th of November so it is a webinar and a face-to-face meeting in Brisbane and you can register to attend that on the Worksafe website. But, just in your experience, how are these sorts of quick wins, how the achievement is communicated and I guess broadcast to get others on board?

Sharon Vandermaat:

Within Council, we have a PErforM network group that we meet bi-monthly. As you can understand, the City of Gold Coast is quite a big ci. So we have, for instance, our Parks and Landscape crew. We will have one crew that might be up at Coomera and a crew that's down at Tugun so these guys don't usually get an opportunity to get together too often. So the PErforM network group that we have established allows them to come together to that meeting and share what they're doing with all of the other PErforM facilitators. So often our Parks and Landscape crew, for instance, the trial of the wheelbarrow that is being undertaken in our Roads and Drainage section, the Parks and Landscape crew are interested to see how that goes because they're moving mulch and soil using wheelbarrows. So they do get together bi-monthly and share that.

Again, I mentioned the Safety Award. When we have a Safety Award winner, they receive a trophy and they are mentioned in our Safety Newsletter that goes out every year. So if someone wants more information on the activity that they've assessed, they can get in touch with that PErforM facilitator and have a discussion with them. So we promote them at every opportunity and through any forum that we can within Council and share whatever ideas that we're able to come up with.

Allicia Bailey:

Excellent. Now can you just explain the insurer relationship I guess within the Council in that you guys are a self-insurer because I think a lot of people are asking what was the perceived benefit or the outcomes recognised by the insurer. So can you just comment on those types of things?

Sharon Vandermaat:

Council is self-insured which we obviously need to follow the same rules as WorkCover Queensland as the Regulator. Really the benefit to us is just not injuring our workers. If we can stop from anyone from being injured, that's what we want. It is not so much about the workers' compensation statistics, it's more about making sure that our workers are safe and that they are assisted with anything that we can provide to them to make sure that they do go home safely.

Allicia Bailey:

Just in your experience, are you aware of any similar network for sharing these ideas because we've had a few comments come through that Queensland is light years ahead which I guess is incredible and is what we want to hear, but do you know of any other network that people could tap in for innovative ideas like the PErforM Program?

Sharon Vandermaat:

I am always on Workplace Health and Safety Queensland's website looking at what's going on there and any connections that I can make to anything that is going on there. I find it a really wonderful website and easy to find information on most topics. I obviously through my own network groups have connections with other people in other areas and we're always sharing information as well and that's not just in Queensland but also in the other States of Australia. So informal network groups work just as well.

Allicia Bailey:

I've just got Nita Maynard out here from Workplace Health and Safety Queensland. She has just also advised that there is a LinkedIn page for the PErforM Program if anyone is interested in tapping into that. That is another great resource as well. We have had a flood of comments come through today. Congratulations Gold Coast Council - a fantastic program. So I just want to pass that on to you. I guess that probably will wrap up the end of our questions, unless you had any other comments.

Sharon Vandermaat:

The only thing I would like to say is if there's anybody out there that is not doing PErforM, get on board. It has just been wonderful. Thank you.

Allicia Bailey:

Thank you so much everyone for participating and for all of you who have stayed on. It's great to have so many active people throwing their questions at us. Again, Sharon, thank you so, so much. I think this has been an absolute brilliant webinar to show a real life example of the types of improvement that organisations can make in terms of safety.

If anyone's question was not answered - we did have a few that we weren't able to get to or, if you have an after-thought, please email us at and we'll work with Sharon to try and get those answered for you.

Just to let you know, this is the conclusion of today's webinar but there are also two more upcoming webinars for this virtual series. So on the 11th of November, Dr Jodi Oakman who's a senior lecturer at La Trobe University, will give an overview of the current research evidence relating to the causes of MSDs including the impact of psychosocial hazards. The final webinar in this series will be held on the 17th of November with Juliet Maynard, the National Workplace Health and Safety and Injury Management Adviser and Juliet will be focusing on the enablers for success for the CSR Limited manual handling project. Registration for both of these are open so jump on our website to secure your spot.

On behalf of the Workers' Compensation Regulator and Workplace Health and Safety Queensland, I would like to thank you so much for participating in today's webinar. We are in the stages of planning our webinar series for 2016 so we're heavily reliant on what you guys tell us and what you actually need. So please spend two minutes and we'll shoot you through to a survey now where you can tell us what you want and hopefully we can work on that for the new year.

So thanks again, Sharon, and bye for now.

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