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Mental health awareness has become more prevalent within society and highly discussed in health forums. However, with all this focus around mental health, very little of the population understand or know how to help a person in a mental health crisis; especially within Australian workplaces. Recently, a Health Profile of Australian Employees was conducted identifying around 65% of employees indicated moderate to high stress levels, and 41% had psychological distress levels considered a risk to their health. Unfortunately, costing business $10.9 billion annually. The Australian Government has seen this as a concern to our economy due to lack of management within our workplaces and has since developed the Healthy Workplace Alliance.

Actevate encourages workplaces to reach out and support their employees who might be struggling at present with their mental health. Actevate can support your organisation through an Employee Assistance Program, Psychology Treatment Plans, Workplace Rehabilitation Assistance, Health and Wellbeing programs, Seminars on Mental Health, Job in Jeopardy Assistance, Managing Concerning Behaviours, Goal Setting and Risk Management.



Our Director, Robert Migliore was interviewed by Asia-Pacific Banking & Finance (AB+F) magazine this March on this thought-provoking subject.

Robert highlights the important issues plaguing our insurers as they focus on assessing the veracity of claims with respect to causation, medical intervention and pathology. Insurers are better placed to adopt a model that will address and identify a worker’s perception of health, injury causation and recovery time.

Robert says, “There needs to be an understanding that injury management is as much to do with the medical and physical aspects of injury as it is to do with the personality and emotional factors governing one’s health perceptions”.

Given what we know already about the impact of personality on injury recovery, Actevate have acted by developing unique initial screening of our clients, under the Pathways Model, to identify early-on the barriers that are likely to impact on our interventions. By doing this upfront, we separate out the personality factors versus the medical and injury-recovery factors. We put in action plans to address the whole picture – getting employers results and having healthy productive workers.

The Pathways Model has been designed to enhance the social, emotional, financial and workplace outcomes of injured or ill employees. This model is supported by a unique coaching program called The MindBody Project – a multidisciplinary program that incorporates physical coaching with resilience coaching to enable individuals to take ownership of their own health.

To read Robert’s article in full, download it here.

If you would like more information on the Pathways Model and MindBody Project, you can contact us on 1300 663 155 ort email us. Let us help you with your injury management.



Hot off the press! Just released from OHS Alert. The NSW WCC President has confirmed a journey fatality was compensable because the incident was caused by the deceased woman's work-related fatigue.

The judge rejected the employer's claim, on appeal, that there was no evidence the worker was tired or fatigued at the time of her death.

He found it was "consistent with every day human experience" that someone who worked 60 hours over five consecutive night shifts would be "tired or suffering from some measure of fatigue".

It was argued that given the worker's long working hours in the days prior to her death, and the absence of any braking on the road at the accident scene, it was more probable than not that she fell asleep at the wheel.

The judge said he was "comfortably satisfied" work-related fatigue had a "real and substantial connection" to her death, under s10(3A) of the State Workers Compensation Act 1987.

He went on to say that the evidence showed the worker was new to working night shifts, had worked long hours in the previous five days, and complained to her parents that she was struggling with getting used to working at night.

"That evidence, coupled with the otherwise unexplained veering of her vehicle to the incorrect side of the roadway was more probable than not that the accident was caused by the deceased falling asleep at the wheel of her car due to work-related fatigue," he said in dismissing the employer's appeal.

For more information about this ruling visit Namoi Cotton Co-Operative Ltd v Stephen Easterman (as administrator of the estate of Zara Lee Easterman) [2015] NSWWCCPD 29 (4 May 2015)

Lessons for us?

  • Shift patterns are crucial and some research has been done in this area. Make sure you have your WHS policy on shift management reviewed to ensure your employees are getting enough rest between shifts.
  • This sets a precedent on the causal link to workplace fatigue and getting to/from work. Even if you don’t have shifts, any work place where employees are working excessive hours should be reviewed and strategies in place for workplace wellbeing initiatives.
  • Flexibility in the workplace where people can work from home when they are doing long hours can avoid the trip in the car.
  • Remind people in your workplace about the need to rest between shifts and don't be tempted to put people on double shift if resources are tight.
  • Establishing a wellness program that encourages activity and exercise keeps people fit enough to maintain working longer hours or shift work.
  • Educate your employees on how to manage shift work and the impact it can have on your wellbeing. That means how to structure meals, prepare for sleep when it's light outside, importance of exercise and managing a changing shift pattern.

For any help with managing your work place fatigue issues or you want to put in place some wellness programs, please call us on 1300 663 155 or email us.



Actevate marked World Day for Safety and Health at Work and Workers’ Memorial Day on 28 April, 2015, by getting out and spreading the word - a day to focus on taking actions which can prevent future work-related deaths, injuries and illnesses, and a day to remember those that have died from a work-related injury or illness.

Safe Work Australia reminded us that despite a reduction in the number of Australians injured or killed at work during the past 10 years, in 2014, 185 workers lost their lives at work. That means there are still employees who went to work that day didn’t get to come home to their families or friends.

Whether we work in an office, in a warehouse or a myriad different environments, we all deserve to come home when we go to work – it’s a basic expectation that we are safe at work.

The International Labour Organisation developed a dedicated website for the day, check out the interactive website to work through your safety ‘journey’.

The big issues emerging for many sedentary workers are the significant negative effects on our health from sitting such as obesity, cardiovascular disease – consider it to be the new 'smoking'. You can read more here. The ABC recently did a piece on the research from the heart foundation that does not paint a pretty picture. Find out more here.

Another issue emerging in the 21st-century workplace is the ever-encroaching impact on our leisure time as we read and respond to emails on the weekend, engage in social media after hours – expectations are now that we are ‘on’ 24/7.

Here are some tips to try to correct your sitting posture:

  1. Sit on the front of the sitting bones, gently tilting your pelvis forwards. This will help to put your spine in its natural low back curve (lumbar lordosis).

  2. Imagine there is a string connected from the top of your head to the ceiling, 'lengthening your neck'.

  3. Gently squeeze your shoulder blades together to correct any roundedness of the shoulders.

  4. Keep a relaxed breathing pattern. As you breathe in - make air gently fill all the way to the lower lungs - don't just fill the upper chest.

  5. Ensure that your chin isn’t poking out in a forward head posture. In a small ‘yes’ nod movement, gently tuck your chin in to your chest.

  6. Get moving! Any excuse to move - use a glass to drink water rather than a bottle, stand to talk to your work mates, stand to eat your lunch rather than sit at your desk.

Let us help you battle these issues check out our offers in our acknowledgment of World Day for Safety and Health at Work or email us with your issues or call us on 1300 663 155.



Actevate and the Small Animal Specialist Hospital (SASH) joined forces recently when manual handling issues emerged with their staff. Lauren Paul, Clinical Nurse Educator, noticed that some staff were becoming complacent with safe handling at work; and with significant growth in staff at SASH, wanted to make sure all the new staff got off to a safe start.

Lauren says, “Staff were taking shortcuts without understanding the consequences of what poor manual handling could have on their body”. Lauren noticed increasing manual handling incidents emerging and needed to do something – and fast.

Actevate’s physiotherapist, Jennifer Dodge, went in to lend a hand and worked closely with Lauren to develop a training package that was going to make a real difference and not just pay lip service to her experienced nursing team. Jennifer says that “this training needed to be specific to the nurses’ tasks or it was going to fail”. The approach Actevate took was to develop a deep understanding of what staff did and taking photos and performing a task analysis meant that Actevate's training was tailored and highly relevant. From all accounts, the staff found the training highly beneficial and thought-provoking by challenging poor techniques.

Lauren says, “I think having someone external come in like a physiotherapist from Actevate, gave the training more gravitas”

Training was performed during three sessions with 10-15 people in each group. We used photos of actual tasks which Jennifer says “encouraged interaction. The teams were really receptive and highly engaged during training”.

Lauren acknowledges that the training has had an impact with staff reporting positive behaviour change. Only one manual handling incident has been reported since and that was from someone who didn’t participate in training! The next step for SASH is to expand the sessions to include administration staff and the vets.

Generic training is ‘Google-able’ and there is always a place for it when staff just need a quick refresher. Training that really makes a difference should be specific to the people who are participating so that they can relate to the positive change in behaviour we are often trying to achieve with injury prevention education in our workplaces.

To talk to Jennifer about manual handling training, please call her on 1300 663 155 or email Jennifer.dodge@actevate.com.au



MSS Security is a leading security company offering a full suite of personnel security services across Australia.  Actevate and MSS Security have been working together for some time completing the pre-employment health assessments for their employees nationally. For a business that relies on its people power, it is important that the business manages their people risk. Sara Lock the Human Resources and Industrial Relations Manager for NSW/ACT, says “the level of transparency we get at the recruitment stage for potential new employees is invaluable for us in helping our workers at work and for their general wellbeing”. MSS Security is known in the industry for their employees' long tenure, so they are doing something right! She goes onto to say that “the health screenings have helped identify health issues for existing and potential new employees that may have otherwise been undetected”. Men are not good at seeing their doctors for health screening and these assessments have revealed health issues such as diabetes or heart conditions “that we can then encourage them manage with their doctors”.

Recently MSS Security expanded their services when they won an new contract. Actevate conducted pre-employment health assessments of 148 employees. These assessments took place at MSS Security office in Ashfield, and at the regional locations in outer Sydney metro and Hunter Valley.  Sara said “these ease at which Actevate did these was an enormous help in making the transition for these employees seamless.”

“Actevate were professional and the turnaround in assessment was quick so that we could get on with managing the transition of this contract into our business without too many hassles.”

Some of our health team like Michael, Vish, Aaron and Kate completed all the assessments and were able to give MSS Security a sense of the health status of these ncandidates and were able to identify those candidates with a higher risk of musculoskeletal injury. Sara adds “we now have reports of the health status at a site and state level that can help us manage our risks and put in place programs if we need to”. Actevate provided recommendations to MSS Security on how to best manage those risks to keep their employee safe but to also avoid potentially costly workers compensation claims. Pre-employee health assessments have helped MSS Security with managing their people risks but also provide a way to engage with their employees in health and wellbeing issues which is important as we ask our employees to work longer and the ageing workforce a real and present issue for many employers.

For more information on how we can help you manage your people risk call us 9222 7400 or email us or visit our website.

 



WorkCover NSW regularly reviews the performance of all NSW Workers Compensation insurers or agents as they are called. Insurers are there to administer the workers compensation scheme, collect premiums from Employers and apply the legislation to deliver injury and claims management services with an aim to reduce disability from workplace injuries.

 WorkCover NSW has announced the changes to the insurer arrangements for 2015.

Gallagher Bassett Services will transition their injured worker's claims to Allianz and claims with Xchanging will transfer to Employers Mutual.

Provisions are in place to assist with the transfer but make sure you check with your insurer if you are effected.

To learn more about this change go directly to WorkCover NSW.

 



We know by now that early return to work promotes recovery and prevents long term disability and economic loss. Using Work Related Activity Programs (WRAP) is an important tool for all RTW Coordinators to consider when rehabilitation isn’t progressing.

Actevate’s WRAPs are conducted by our qualified Exercise Physiologists or Physiotherapists and we have researched our own statistics and found some amazing results that we wanted to share with you.

Over the past 3 years about 9 out of 10 of our clients have been successfully upgraded to be able to do more at work than when they first started our program.

Michael, our National Health Services Manager and Exercise Physiologist guru says “1 in 2 of our clients have been upgraded to beyond their pre injury capacity. Our programs get results for the clients by improving their overall health, this in turn means employers get an improved version of their workers.”

Our program includes a comprehensive assessment of the individual and a structured exercise based program that is reflective of their current or desired role, so the programs are specific and tailored - which is one of the most important elements. The workers also have the education to ensure that future injuries or aggravation are mitigated.

A WRAP isn’t always right. So when is it appropriate to consider referring for a WRAP? Here's what WorkCover NSW suggests:

  • When there is insufficient suitable activity available in the workplace to meet the worker’s total activity needs through the return to work plan.
  • When the acute treatment methods are no longer resulting in significant functional improvement.
  • The worker’s injury is now in the sub acute period (6 – 12 weeks) and they are not working pre injury duties and hours.
  • The worker’s injury is not yet chronic and disabling (usually less than 12 weeks after injury).
  • The worker has recovery risk factors and/or delayed recovery.
  • Worker activity levels are not progressing and/or fluctuate widely.
  • The worker requires a high level of supervision, instruction and reinforcement.

 

If you are not sure if you worker needs a WRAP you can always call us on 9222 7400 and chat to Michael, you can email or check out the website.

And that’s a wrap!...ouch



Another article from our friends at OHS Alert. A recent judgement from the NSW Court of Appeal determined how a company that created a "hidden danger" when it loaded a truck is more liable for a worker's serious injuries than the worker's employer in a $5.75 million damages case.

The Court ordered the company, RFI (Aust) Pty Ltd, to pay 75% of the agreed damages bill.

The Allied Overnight Express Pty Ltd storeman was seriously injured back in March 2010 when two 30kg rolls of underlay that he was unloading from an RFI truck fell and struck his shoulders and neck.

At the time, the Supreme Court found the rolls were usually stacked and found RFI and Allied were equally at fault, as RFI failed to provide a restraining brace for the rolls that fell, and Allied failed to ensure workers made "an accurate or exhaustive visual inspection of the top of the load".

The worker appealed, arguing RFI alone was negligent.

RFI didn't dispute liability, but argued that Allied was the more negligent party.

But Justice Barrett said that it was "plainly unreasonable" to find that RFI and Allied were equally liable and suggests poor risk management was to blame.

Justice Barrett said "Storemen opening the doors of vehicles of the relevant type were entitled to expect that all proper restraints indicated by the nature of the load would be in place.

"And Allied, in providing a safe system of work, was entitled to expect that RFI would take care to put such restraints in place and that the risk that in fact materialised would be a remote risk."

He went on to say "RFI effectively created a hidden danger that was masked by the creation of the false sense of security engendered by the absence of the fifth bar".

He found RFI and Allied were 75 per cent and 25 per cent respectively liable.

For more information about this case go here Grima v RFI (Aust) Pty Ltd [2014] NSWCA 345 (13 October 2014)

Lessons for us?

This is another case where employers are encouraged to work collaboratively with their clients and customers throughout the “work” chain of where tasks are carried out. Where your worker’s work methods are impacted by the actions of another Employer it’s imperative that you work with them to identify all potential hazards. This is sometimes easier said than done! Under WHS each employer has a safety obligation for employees and non-employees. You are a “non-employee” to your clients/customers. Here are some tips on how to manage this:

  • Identify all high risk tasks within your operation – not all tasks require collaboration.
  • For those tasks that are deemed high risk in your operation should have some form of collaboration where required.
  • Seek out a safe work method statement or risk assessment report from the client/customer where your workers are exposed to that hazard.
  • If you are unable to obtain documents, seek an opportunity to attend that workplace with your worker to assess the task/s.
  • Share your findings with the client/customers especially if they are required to make modifications at their end.
  •  

    What do you do if they don’t make changes? Do the best you can to equip your employees with as much knowledge in safe work processes and work your way through the risk control hierarchy to determine the best way to manage this risk as is “reasonably practicable”.

    If you are unable to manage the risk to a level that you feel comfortable in your business and your workers remain exposed to a significant risk – you may need to decide is it worth it?

    Any help you need with risk management you can always access our Safety Consultant who is there to equip you with the knowledge to manage workplace safety. Call us on 9222 7400 or email us. Find out more about our Injury Prevention Services here.



It's that time of year again when we all enjoy the holiday festivities and let our hair down to come together to celebrate the year's achievements. It's a great time of year, the weather warms up and people are generally in a good mood.

However, many employers come unstuck and face the consequences of poorly planned events to only have to deal with injuries and the workers compensation claims arising from endorsed events and any safety breaches.

Under NSW Work Health and Safety laws, these company endorsed events can still be considered work time and as such your liability is extended to these events. Now, there is a difference with an endorsed event in a venue and those that are on your premises. Here is quick snap shot and it all comes down to risk management.

Having an endorsed event at a third party venue means that they need to ensure that the area is safe for use and apply the Responsible Service of Alcohol framework, but as an employer your liability usually extends to getting there and getting away. For an endorsed event on your work premises then as an employer you bear the whole responsibility of workplace safety.

Here are the top tips to consider when having or planning your festive season celebration:

  • Always try and contain the event by having a clear start and finish time - makes it clear when your endorsement ends
  • Avoid having these events as compulsory attendance.
  • If having the endorsed event at work perform a risk assessment to ensure you have managed any foreseeable risk of injury or illness.
  • If having the endorsed event on your premises make sure you apply as many of the Responsible Service of Alcohol principles:
      • Only serve alcohol to over 18's.
      • Always supply food when ever alcohol is served.
      • Limit free pour of alcohol so people are able to manage standard drink intake e.g. bottled drinks, cups/glasses with a 200ml limit.
      • Always have non-alcoholic beverages available.
      • If someone looks like they've had too much to drink, make sure you have a plan to deal with that and get that person to a second destination safely or way to sober them up before they leave the workplace - you may need to hire security if the risks are high enough.
  • Ensure that anyone driving is reminded of their responsibility to stay under the safe drink driving limit when leaving the endorsed event  and have a strategy to manage that situation if someone clearly should not be driving.
  • Be prepared to have cab charges if you need to get people home or to a second destination safely.
  • Reminding people of your Drugs and Alcohol Policy at this time is also useful.

Keeping safe over this period is important but having fun and enjoying this festive time is just as important, so using these tips should help take out the guess work.

Need help to manage this? You can always contact us on 9222 7400 or email us.

Enjoy the end of year festivities.

 



Our Articles

  1. Mentally Healthy Workplace Robert Migliore 24-Jun-2015
  2. Can emotions affect work performance? Robert Migliore 13-May-2015
  3. Judge upholds a $500k Workers Comp claim for journey death Robert Migliore 13-May-2015
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