Flower girls

Train the Trainer

Delivering manual handling training to your own staff?

Review the ergonomic setup of workstation?

Actevate Train the Trainer Workshop is designed to empower participants to establish and deliver manual handling and ergonomics instruction

5 Benefits of Investing in In-House Training

1. Save Money Delivering training and providing support in house contain costs of external providers.   

2. Save Time Having trained staff members at the workplace enables early identification of injury risks and review and assessment as issues arise.  

3. Healthy Workers are Happy Workers Injury prevention is as much a culture as it is a deliverable service. By upskilling your own staff it helps to foster an environment which is supportive and health conscious.    

4. The Insider ‘Knows The Job’ Manual handling and ergonomics are effective only when they’re task specific and relevant. No one knows the job itself as well as the staff from within the organisation.    

5. Reduce Injuries from Induction Having skilled staff encouraging healthy and safe work practices from induction can ensure good habits are formed immediately.

Actevate's next Train the Trainer Course in Manual Handling and Ergonomics will be held on Thursday 19th November 2015. Register for this event here: http://actevate.com.au/BookingRetrieve.aspx?ID=329154


What was the impetus for you taking on a lecturing position?
“I completed a Bachelor of Science with a Rehabilitation, Counselling and Psychology major in 1993 at the University of Sydney and my ambition was always to go back to the university and be a lecturer one day. That’s why I approached the University of Sydney, to see if I could be involved. Through an established contact, I was invited to lecture at the Health Sciences campus.

What topics do you lecture about?
I am most passionate about exploring the role of the rehabilitation counsellor in the personal injury sector. In recent years, rehabilitation counselling has not focussed on developing people as practitioners who can identify those who have challenges in their work life due to injury, personality and emotional constraints. I wanted to harness the experience I have accumulated during the past 20 years and bring it to a course which, in many ways, had lost its leading edge in our industry as one that develops and nurtures practitioners.

What topics have you covered in your lectures?
I was fortunate because Dr Millington, who is the Professor of Health Sciences, gave me an opportunity to create my own curriculum for the lectures that I was running. So I focussed on the importance of understanding personality and emotional functioning with injured workers.  I discussed how to engage stakeholders (and the various stakeholders that are associated with rehabilitation in our industry) and I actually had a bit of fun in the process with the students.

What differences can you see in course now compared to when you were a student?
“There has been a dramatic change in the manner in which the industry approaches return to work. Unfortunately, I can’t see that the changes have been particularly beneficial for injured workers because they are often seen as an adversary and not necessarily a part of the overall process of injury management; it is actually quite a difficult thing to articulate. In the past 20 years, Work Cover has really struggled to manage the return-to-work process and as a result of those difficulties, insurers have had to take on more of the responsibility. As a result, they have focussed on basic processes as opposed to building valuable relationships with workers and employers and those people who are going to get people back to work.

How do you feel as a lecturer? “I always put myself in the place of my students.  It’s not just about delivering the material, it’s also about ensuring that insights are shared and the students use that information when they are processing those materials. For example, we might be talking about a doctor’s opinion about a worker and I recently held a dedicated workshop on how to communicate with doctors. This is an area where many industry health professionals don’t seem to comprehend the importance of this communication. It's important to build a strong relationship with the doctor but, that we are also cognisant of our role and how we can bring about an outcome. Doctors can be intimidating to speak to, they are time-poor, they may be frustrated by the return-to-work processes, and they feel like they are the advocate for the worker. So if we are not mindful of that philosophical stance the doctor has already taken with the worker, we won’t produce an outcome. Moreover, the doctor will only support the worker if the doctor believes the worker is being bullied or pushed into a particular pathway or return-to-work scheme that they feel is premature. It’s a very delicate process.

What are the main things you want your students to take away from each lecture?
I like students to feel confident in their abilities to identify the root cause of the problem. We work in a scheme operationally, as I said earlier on the process of return to work. At the heart of each matter, we tend to forget that we are dealing with human beings, with feelings, personalities, barriers, challenges and strengths. I like to explore the outer edges of the process because it’s in those outer edges that we identify the real problems. If we can get to the bottom of those root problems or the root cause, then we will be able to get a much more effective result from our intervention. Unfortunately, what many health professionals, insurers and employers do is they focus on what the process at the expense of what the actual root cause is.

If you could summarise lecturing in a few words, how would you describe it?
I see it as an enormous privilege, an honour.  It’s not a role that can be taken lightly, it’s something you have to respect and that’s why I use the term ‘honour’ because by giving students an insight into the work that they will be doing and the people they will be interfacing with, I hope that as a result the students will become more open and lateral thinkers.
As I said before, we work in an industry where the majority of people are focussed on process; process is a result of the industry trying to simplify what is a potentially complicated scenario. Employers are often ill-equipped to deal with injured employees; both practically and emotionally so they tend to rely on process in order to ensure that there is solution. However, as a rehabilitation professional, I believe we are on the periphery of what is going on for this injured person and relying on process alone is often not enough to secure an outcome.

Absenteeism stemming from alcohol and drug use costs Australian companies $3 billion a year and a range of policies and practise should be implemented to help workers, research has found.

Actevate can include drug and alcohol screening in our Pre Employment Health Assessments across all of our national offices. Our assessments are designed to identify health risks, inform employers of medical concerns and support recruitment decisions.

Australian employers should implement a range of special policies and practices to help deal with the “extremely high costs” of drug and alcohol-related absenteeism, researchers have recommended.

Research conducted by Flinders University, of the nearly 13,000 workers that took part in the 2013 National Drug Strategy Household Survey, found that absenteeism related to alcohol and other drugs (AOD) costs Australian companies $3 billion and is the cause of approximately 11.5 million missed working days a year.

The recent research found that 56.1% had low-risk levels of four or fewer standard drinks on a single occasion, while 26.6% were considered risky at five to ten standard drinks, and 9.3% fell into high risk levels of over eleven drinks per occasion, OHSAlert.com.au reported.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, researchers found that absence rates increased with riskier or more frequent consumption of alcohol as almost 9% of high-risk drinkers reported missing at least one day of work due to drinking, compared with jus t 0.5% of low-risk drinkers.

"Workplaces wishing to reduce the substantial impost associated with AOD-related absenteeism are advised to implement evidence-based strategies to promote healthy employee behaviour," the researchers said.

The study also found that 5.4% of workers used illicit drugs weekly, 2.9% monthly and 7.3% on a yearly basis.

"Rates of absence due to illicit drug use ranged from 0.1 per cent (lifetime users) to 3.5 per cent (weekly users)," researchers continued, according to OHSAlert.com.au.

"These results demonstrate the extremely high costs associated with alcohol and drug-related absenteeism in Australia.

"In particular, they highlight the amount of absence attributable to infrequent drug users."

Contact Actevate on 1300 663 155 to enquire about Pre Employment Assessments and Random Drug and Alcohol Screening for your company.

Sugar- a sweet crystalline substance obtained from various plants, especially sugar cane and sugar beet, consisting essentially of sucrose, and used as a sweetener in food and drink.

Are you aware of the amount of sugar you consume on a daily basis? Whether this be adding sugar in your tea, a pastry for breakfast, even a sports drink after a gym class?

Medical experts are calling sugar the new tobacco and has now been linked not only to obesity, but cancer, heart disease, chronic fatigue, tooth decay and type two diabeties. It has been said that diabeties is the epedemic of the 21st Century; costing Australia an estimated $14.6billion per year with 280 Australians developing diabetes every day.

Graham MacGregor, Professor of Cardiovascular medicine at The University of London stated in The Guardian UK:

“People haven’t twigged that the biggest cause of death is what we are eating. It’s no surprise we’re so obese; the biggest surprise is why aren’t we all obese. We’re all eating too much sugar- people grossly underestimate how much they consume. We know because in surveys, if you ask people how much fizzy drink they consume, you get a figure two-and-a-half times less than how much is being sold.”

Many of us are creatures of habit and changing our habits can be reasonably difficult.

Some nutritionists say no more than 5% of the food we consume daily should originate from sugar; this equates to approximately 7 teaspoons of sugar per day. It is said, there are up to 10 teaspoons of sugar in a single can of Coca-Cola.

According to the 2007 Australian National Children’s Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey, young Australians (aged 2-16) are the leading generation in society to consume beverages with a higher sugar content everyday.

More recently, as a response to Australia having one of the highest obesity rates in the world, the Australian Government have developed the Health Star rating system. This is a simple way to educate customers and encourage us to make healthier choices and contribute to a balanced diet containing a little less sugar.

A recent dismissal due to workplace bullying has been overturned after the Fair Work Commission found the HR response “heavy handed,” after the sacked employee secretly recorded their phone calls.

Actevate offer a range of Mental Health Training modules to assist your who are experiencing conflict in the workplace. From Managing Concerning Behaviours in the Workplace to Emotional Intelligence and Communication training; Actevate aim to train your staff in how to deal with issues to prevent bullying and other concerns in the workplace.

The “heavy handed” response of one HR manager to a recent bullying dismissal has seen the Fair Work Commissioner rule that the sacking was unfair.

The worker, who was terminated from  Mollica Consultants for his “threatening” behaviour after he accused a co-worker of tampering with his motorbike, secretly recorded his phone conversation with the HR manager of his firm which proved his innocence.

The HR manager told Commissioner Leigh Johns that the worker threatened to deal with the situation in his “own way” and spoke in a “tone and manner” that led to his immediate dismissal, OHSAlert.com.au reported.

However, the worker secretly recorded his conversation with HR which revealed a different story.

"Having heard the termination call, it is apparent that the evidence provided by [the HR manager] in-person on this point during the hearing was manifestly untrue. Most of her evidence about the termination call was either a gross failure to recollect what actually happened or a recent invention," Commissioner Johns sad.

"At worst, she was entirely belligerent in her dealings with the [worker].”

Commissioner Johns found that, while the worker had harassed his colleague by making false allegations concerning the motorbike and by repeatedly calling and sending menacing text messages to the accused, the ultimate dismissal was unfair due to the HR manager’s actions.

As the HR manager, who has no formal HR qualifications, did not allow the worker to respond to Mollica’s concerns and let previous complaints which were “allowed to let slide,” affect her judgment, the dismissal was unfair.

"It is recommended that [the HR manager] engage in some professional development training to ensure the procedural mistakes she engaged in are not repeated in the future as, in this instance, it is her lack of HR skill which, in no small part, has rendered this dismissal unfair," Commissioner Johns said.

Commissioner Johns awarded the worker $1022, after a 50% deduction for his conduct, to cover the two weeks he was unemployed.

If you are experiencing conflict in your workplace, contact Actevate on 1300 663 155 to access our services.

Bupa recently released their 2015 Workplace health in Australia report which was based on a survey of 150 Australian employers on their work-health initiatives, and aims to provide a benchmark for other organisations.

Wellness is becoming an increasingly effective tool used by employers in assisting to keep employees healthy and productive at work. An effective health and wellbeing strategy includes four fundamental elements, including the key component of communication, according to a Bupa report.

It found that initiatives that were engaging, educating and motivating workers to become healthier are "evolving", and identified four key steps employers should take when introducing and maintaining a health and wellbeing program:

1. Assess worker’s health needs

Employers can use information on absenteeism, employee turnover, safety and workers' compensation to help them plan health and wellbeing programs, the report says.

Interestingly, only 58% of employers surveyed review employee health data from screening programs and employee assistance programs.

The report predicted that more employers will start following a "formalised work health measurement and evaluation framework" in the next financial year.

2. Design a strategy around five key factors

A health and wellbeing program should support both physical and mental health; provide workers with health checks and promote a healthier workplace culture and environment, the report says.

Health checks benefit organisations in two ways: by improving workers' understanding and awareness of their personal health and by providing data that gives employers "quantified insights into the needs of their people". At Actevate, we encourage employers to look at health information as a whole rather than programs for individuals using their confidential records.

Nearly 25% are planning on introducing behavioural risk assessments – such as online tools that assess health and lifestyle risks including smoking, physical activity and nutrition habits – in 2015-16, it says.

A common physical health initiative is flu vaccinations, with 70% of employers offering them onsite and 30% subsidising workers' vaccination costs.

Programs that encourage workers to focus on musculoskeletal health, such as stretching at work, are expected to see the largest growth in the next two years, while nutrition-based programs are also predicted to grow, the report says.

The most commonly reported solution to mental health issues is employee assistance programs (82%), but digital solutions are expected to grow significantly over the coming years.

Actevate has reported on this serious issue before and the report confirms more workplaces consider sleep and fatigue management as key risk areas, with 1 in 5 planning to introduce related initiatives in the near future.

Common ways to improve workplace culture include team lunches, sports and fun runs, the report found, and nearly half (46.8%) of employers actively include workers' families in specific activities. Interestingly some (25.7%) of workplaces provide health initiatives to family members, it notes.

Half of employers have completely banned smoking in their workplace environments, with 8.3% planning on doing so in the near future, the report says.


3. Focus on clear communication when introducing the strategy

Creating an implementation plan that involves all workers and managers, and includes communication strategies is "key to supporting the success of the work health strategy".

"The communication of a work health strategy is one of the most important factors to consider in the implementation of programs."

The report says common forms of communication focus around print resources including posters or newsletters, but the use of digital communication, such as dedicated organisation portals and mobile phone apps, is expected to significantly increase in the coming years.


4. Evaluate the strategy

The report says many workplaces use the same data to assess the needs of their workers' to evaluate the achievements of their health and wellbeing programs; with workers' comp data, EAP usage, safety and absenteeism most commonly analysed.

Employers are more likely to measure the financial returns of specific programs in future, with only 12% currently measuring return-on-investment, it says.

Read more at Workplace health in Australia Bupa Benchmark Survey 2015 or OHS Alert.

At Actevate we have a number of programs we can tailor to build your wellness initiative. Pre-employment screenings, the new Stretch and Flex program, MindBody Project delivered by qualified Exercise Physiologists guaranteed to get people moving. We also have qualified and experienced psychologists who can help you establish your Employee Assistance Program.


Get in touch today so we can work on building, growing and evaluating your wellness initiatives. Call us on 1300 669 552 or email us at info@actevate.com.au.




OHS Alert reported earlier this month that a full Federal Court has confirmed that the Fair Work Act does not block injured NSW workers from accruing leave while they're receiving incapacity payments.

In December 2009, an Anglican Care nursing assistant was injured in the course of her employment in NSW and received weekly workers' compensation payments until she was dismissed in May 2011.

Anglican Care then paid her about $1900 in annual leave she accrued prior to her injury, but her union – the NSW Nurses and Midwives' Association – convinced Federal Circuit Court Judge Sylvia Emmet that she was entitled to a further $3000 in annual leave accrued while she was injured.

Judge Emmet heard that under s130(1) of the Fair Work Act 2009, employees aren't entitled to take or accrue leave if they are absent from work and receiving workers' compensation unless, (according to s130(2)), it is "permitted" by the relevant compensation law. Under s49 of the NSW Workers Compensation Act 1987 they are entitled.

Anglican Care appealed the decision, however the bench found there was no indication the legislation’s intention was to deny access to entitlements.

"After all, compensation laws create or confer rights to compensation," Justices Bromberg and Katzmann said in a joint judgment.

Justice Jessup agreed, and noted that the Court was justified in resolving any "obscurity" around the meaning of the Fair Work Act s130 in a way "which would not amount to a significant alteration in rights and obligations. The employer's claims, if successful, would make such an alteration by reducing the entitlements employees previously had under the Workplace Relations Act", he said.

For more information about this case go to Anglican Care v NSW Nurses and Midwives' Association [2015] FCAFC 81 (5 June 2015).


Lessons for us?

At Actevate we hear that this is a contentious issue for many employers who view it as "double dipping" in some cases. However, this judgement now removes the ambiguity in the legislation between the Fair Work Act 2009 and NSW Workers Compensation Act 1987.

Whether we see this as fair or not, it’s the law and we have to work within it. We know that the biggest cost to your workers compensation premium is wage loss. This decision means that there are even more wage costs accruing whilst someone is unfit for work. You will be required to keep accounting for the accrued leave entitlements and pay these out should an injured worker cease employment with you. For some businesses this can be a significant hit to the bottom line.

Best practice tells us that the sooner you can get someone back to work whether in a modified capacity; full time/part time or back in their pre injury capacity leads to better outcomes and significant costs savings on your premium and better health outcomes for injured workers.


Please contact us to help you with managing your claims costs by calling us on 1300 669 552 or email us at info@actevate.com.au.

Actevate’s Pathways Program is guided by the biopsychosocial model of rehabilitation and is the basis of the World Health Organisation’s International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (WHO, 2011). The biopsychosocial (BPS) model comprises the following:

  • Biological – the physical or mental condition
  • Psychological – personal factors that influence an individual’s functioning, such as attitudes
  • Social – the role of society, its expectations or limitations and how this impacts on an individual’s functioning.

An individual’s ability to return to health, daily functioning, and particularly to work, is dependent on personal/psychological factors and social/occupational factors (HWCA, 2005). The BPS model considers the individual as a whole rather than traditional medical management which focuses solely on the injury.

The Leading Authorities of Workers Compensation Australia (HWCA, 2005) has illustrated that the BPS model can be adopted in a worker’s rehabilitation and return to work plan. It recognises that a person’s fears and beliefs about their injury can impact on their return to work and health, and should therefore be incorporated into their injury-management planning. Likewise, an individual’s personality, as well as social pressures, will impact on how one recovers from injury. At Actevate, we are focussed on using evidence-based practice; we ensure these factors are integrated into our assessments and are integral in the development of rehabilitation plans.

We spoke with Actevate Rehabilitation Consultant (RC), Brittany Turnbull, and gained an insight into the psychosocial barriers present in her return to work coordination. She gave us her view on how these can be managed.

What are the barriers you’re faced with as a rehabilitation consultant on a day to day basis?

Primarily the key challenge in managing recovery and return to health for severe, complex and psychological injuries is the impact of biopsychosocial factors.  Commonly, people within this population experience prolonged recovery with the following biopsychosocial factors impacting their rehabilitation:   

  • Fear avoidance and pain-focused  behaviours – including fear of re-injury or re-aggravation
  • Continuation of passive, symptom-focused treatment in the absence of improved functional outcomes
  • Reported worsening of symptoms through minor activity
  • Perception that injury is catastrophic and creates fear
  • Belief that pain is harmful and engagement in activity results in further damage
  • Reported stress in the workplace with lack of support
  • Failed  attempts to return to work

All these factors reinforce long-term disability with the individual and reduces the opportunity to achieve a recovery to health.

How do you manage these barriers?

I have achieved positive outcomes in managing these barriers through:

  • Obtaining comprehensive information about the individual in relation to their injury history, recovery to date and their support systems. It is important to ascertain why the worker believes they are not recovering and establishing what is required to help them.
  • Goal-setting with the worker to determine what they want to achieve in the return to work process, how they will achieve this, and the time frames.
  • Providing feedback to stakeholders and developing a program that reflects the goals to be achieved and biopsychosocial factors to be addressed. The program is developed in consultation with stakeholders with a focus on how this will assist the worker in addressing the biopsychosocial factors impeding their recovery to health.
  • Directly providing feedback to the worker as to their engagement in the program ensuring that they are responsible for their goals.

In following a person-centred approach of goal setting and engaging all stakeholders we effectively address the core biopsychosocial factors impacting the workers recovery. Frequently, workers report that they are in a better state of health following rehabilitation due to a greater sense of wellbeing and self-regulation.

To get in touch with Brittany Turnbull and talk about how she manages her rehabilitation clients, please call her on 1300 669 552 or email us at info@actevate.com.au


The aged care industry is in for a shake-up with changes to WorkCover NSW insurance premium reform.

We believe the WorkCover reforms will act as an incentive for organisations to improve and promote safety at work in addition to providing injured workers with immediate support following a workplace injury.

Effective on-site health programs, targeted education and pre-employment screenings are interventions demonstrated to be beneficial for organisations keen to improve their safety culture and injury frequency rate.

In this sector, pre-employment screening, periodic and onsite prevention programs are not commonplace. Despite the significant risks posed by the inherent requirements of the jobs in this sector, some aged care facilities do not conduct pre-employment and/or periodic health screenings at all; leaving them exposed to a multitude of safety and claims risks.

Establishing policies and procedures for pre-employment and periodic screenings will help ensure; health, well-being, claims and injury prevention in your workplace. These include:

  • Mandatory yearly drug and alcohol testing for staff.
  • Functional examinations of workers’ flexibility, strength and lifting capacity in accordance with the inherent requirements of the job.
  • Regular mental health checks to measure client’s emotional resilience for operationally critical roles.
  • Manual handling risk assessments to ensure staff are aware of appropriate techniques.
  • Employee Assistance Programmes to support and empower workers suffering from distress impacting on their productivity.
  • Resilience training for managers who have to operate in high stress environments.

In recent months we have come across facilities that do not implement efficacious screening processes- for some, this consists of the candidate taking a trip to their local GP and ticking off HR policy and procedural requirements. In an already under-resourced sector, evidence based risk assessment is essential in identifying future team members who may not be fit for your work environment.

In a sector where the likelihood of injury is 40% higher and is considered a priority area of Safe Work Australia and the Australian government; health screening is the cheapest form of risk mitigation expenditure. It has been identified that non screened employees are 33% more at risk of sustaining an injury when compared with a screened employee.

Having industry trained allied health professionals examine potential employees using relevant, standardised measures aligned to the job descriptions are the way to reduce the incidence of injury and claims in the workplace.

Learn more by phoning us on 1300 669 552, or email us at info@actevate.com.au

We all need to become more aware of the potential for long-term injuries caused by sedentary activity. Our bodies simply aren’t designed to sit down all day. Think about your average day at work, how long are you sitting for? Are you in a seated position now whilst reading this article?

Actevate has responded to topical research which states that ‘Sitting Is The New Smoking’. We have, with help from two of Actevate’s Exercise Physiologists Bonnie Ho and Zayneb Dirbas, developed a proactive new Stretch and Flex program.

Typically, most of us occupy a seated position far more than we are conscious of: watching TV, reading, socialising, working and even when commuting.

Prolonged sitting, meaning sitting for eight to 12 hours or more a day, increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 90%.

According to the Australian Health Survey- Australian Bureau of Statistics (2011-2012), 70% of Australian adults are either sedentary or participate in low levels of physical activity; those employed in more sedentary occupations spend an average of 22 hours a week sitting. While sitting stationary for extended periods is hard to avoid for many of us. However, it's not all bad news, research has shown that regular interruptions from sitting, conducting meetings whilst walking, or simply standing up from your chair, is more likely to reduce the risk of developing heart disease and diabetes.

Sitting is serious stuff.

Did you know that physical inactivity has been identified as the fourth-largest leading risk factor all around the world? (World Health Organisation)

Actevate’s Exercise Physiologist Bonnie Ho says,

“In this day and age where 'sitting is the new smoking', there are so many health problems that can be avoided if we just do simple things during the course of the working day like standing up, stretching and flexing! Some of the benefits are obvious once you start implementing these steps because you'll feel it immediately. You suddenly gain more focus, get more energy and being active results in a better mood.”

So why not get in touch with us here at Actevate and take full advantage of our Stretch and Flex program.

If you would like further information on our Stretch and Flex program, please contact us on 1300 663 155 or email us at info@actevate.com.au

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