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ON Series: Leadership approach to return to work

Darwalla is an integrated poultry producer with multiple sites across Queensland and Northern New South Wales. Darwalla share their strategies of improving the Senior Leadership Team involvement and culture in safety, rehabilitation and return to work.

Watch the webcast to learn about Darwalla's award winning leadership approach and how this model can be customised to suit a large, diverse and wide spread business.

Download a copy of this film (ZIP/MP4, 63MB)

ON Series - An award winning leadership approach to return to work

- [Narrator] Welcome to today's On Series session, an award-winning leadership approach to return to work. The Office of Industrial Relations provides free education to stakeholders within the worker's compensation scheme in Queensland to improve rehabilitation and return to work outcomes for businesses and workers. Our presenter today is Juan Corredor. Juan is a human resource and safety manager at Darwalla. Juan is representing Darwalla today to share their leadership approach in rehabilitation. See what tips you can implement into your leadership system to support the workers and especially the business in getting workers back to work.

- [Juan] Thank you for listening. Let's talk about Darwalla and our leadership approach to return to work. Darwalla is an integrated poultry producer with sites across south east Queensland and northern New South Wales.

Operations consist of a hatchery, breeder farms, broiler farms, light bird catching, feed meal, light bird transport, and feed transport, and maintenance workshops. We are a large, culturally diverse organisation which has presented unique challenges. These challenges have been met with novel and successful strategies to ensure compliance for a range of legislations in the high risk agricultural sector. We use a holistic approach to rehabilitation management. This covers them for their whole employment life, from pre-employment, induction, daily duties, employee development, and employee support.

We're fully committed to our injury management system and support. Develop and empower, not only the injured workers, but ensure that all team members are involved in the process of rehabilitation through training and mentoring each other. We design and implement customised, long term, sustainable, fully integrated rehabilitation management system to meet the unique nature of our operations. The system is beyond best practice with the cornerstones of our system being training, worker support, collaborative networking, and communication. Our system has embedded the principles of risk management into all areas of the operation to ensure compliance with various legal requirements.

Now let's talk about the leadership side. We forced our workplace culture where managers, supervisors, and workers are supportive of injured workers and the anger management process positively influenced attitudes and behaviours towards workplace injuries. This sets the expectation. In the event of a workplace injury, injured workers will be cared for and that ultimately they focus on recovering and getting back to work as soon as possible. Where employers and managers lead by example and strongly support health and safety programmes then supervisors and workers are likely to do it as well. This in turn makes managing injuries and gaining support for associated activities much, much easier. Our approach at Darwalla, we have in our approach, we have four key elements provided by our senior leadership team. They are direction, goals, resources, and support. We encourage everyone to look beyond simply meeting our legislative obligations in injury management. We consider the benefits of actively embracing the management of injuries within our workplace.

Let's talk about each one of those key elements. Direction and goals. The senior leadership team embedded rehabilitation and safety into Darwalla's five year strategic plan. Using a targeted and a strategic approach the system has evolved in into an efficient, proactive, and practical safety framework where interdependent rehabilitation safety culture exists. Darwalla design and implement the customised long term, sustainable, fully integrated rehabilitation system to meet the unique nature of our operations. Resources and support. Some of the resources and support that we offer at Darwalla are workplace-based injury management programmes. We have a return to work plans, a visible management team. We follow up and keep in touch with injured workers, and we have full involvement from management from the beginning of the injury and also in any single project that we manage at the company. Management decided that the rehabilitation system would support, develop, and empower not only the injured workers, but ensure all team members are involved in the process of rehabilitation through training and mentoring each other.

Darwalla believes in the importance of very visible senior management team. Our CEO meets all new employees as part of the induction and presents safety awards and workers acknowledgements. Employers and injured workers, relationships are the forefront of injury management. We believe that it is essential that an employer is supportive and treats injured workers with care, concerns, and respect. The HR manager keeps in touch and follows how the injured worker is doing, particularly when they are away from the workplace and recovering. It has made a substantial difference to getting them back to work. The senior leadership team and the middle management team have been involved in most of the company training projects. Encouraging the ideas of participation from all levels of the organisation. This support, positive relationships at all levels, and break the paradigm of managers know it all. We promote the concept that everyone should be in a constant and evolving learning process.

Let's talk about some of the benefits of a leadership approach to return to work that we have experienced at Darwalla. Some of the main improvements and achievements attributed to our leadership approach to return to work are better engagement, better performance, external recognition, and vastly improved safety. On the better engagement side, we have increased the level of reporting and injury management across the company. We have a positive attitude toward health and safety and a greater ownership on safety matters. Obviously, we have a much better communication and feedback. On the performance side, in the past years we have experienced the best safety results in the history of the company. We have reviews, our work insurance premiums, and our rates are much lower compared to the industry. We have external recognition as well. We're recognised as leaders in the industry and have had the opportunity to share lessons learned at various networking events. Darwalla has been used as a case study as well in the agricultural sector. Mainly, we have improved our safety. We have, in the past three years, improved our safety by reducing the number of workplace injuries by 37%. We have a 36% reduction in medical treated injuries in the past three years. Mainly, Darwalla has decreased exposure to liability by increasing supervisor's and manager's awareness of health and safety matters.

- Thanks, Juan and Darwalla for sharing the award-winning leadership approach to return to work. We encourage viewers to send any questions or feedback about this session to Thank you for listening.

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