By shifting to a proactive safety culture, NSW based disability services provider 'Sylvanvale' has achieved a reduction in workers compensation claims of over 50 per cent and won the September icare Aware Award for excellence in injury prevention.
Faced with an increased number of workplace injuries and a need to improve their workplace safety culture, Sylvanvale developed a comprehensive Work Health and Safety Strategy comprising more than 30 actions.
These actions ranged from small changes to large initiatives and projects, focusing on preventing injuries, getting injured workers back to work faster, improving safety systems, identifying training needs and improving overall wellbeing of their workers.
“Sylvanvale has demonstrated how a shift in culture, backed by a robust safety strategy, goes a long way towards making sure everyone goes home safely every day," said icare’s Injury Prevention Manager Jennifer Cameron.
“In the disability sector, Sylvanvale works with some of society’s most vulnerable people who require high levels of support. This poses unique challenges when it comes to safety, increasing the risk of slips, trips, falls or manual handling injuries,” explained Sylvanvale’s Work Health & Safety Manager Amber Haran.
Rethinking safety and injury prevention
Sylvanvale was experiencing an increasingly high number of musculoskeletal injuries with a tendency towards high incident reporting and low hazard reporting. In 2017 (with commitment of a new CEO and senior management behind it) Sylvanvale’s Work Health & Safety Strategy took off, complete with a team of three Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) staff and a company mandate to think proactively about safety and improve injury prevention and return to work outcomes.
“Over the past 18 months we’ve seen a huge change in the safety culture at Sylvanvale. Managers are now having conversations with team members around mental health, and attending medical appointments with them following an incident, while frontline staff are more open to safety training and sharing safety stories,"said Ms Haran.
“One area where we’ve seen real success is site specific training. We’re now taking training to our staff and tailoring it to the needs of individual sites. This has seen incident numbers drop by 75 per cent over a period of just three months at one of our sites,” explained Ms Haran.
New WHS strategy delivers results
Since introducing their WHS strategy, Sylvanvale has seen a marked decrease in injuries, with workers compensation claims down by over 50 per cent this year compared with last year. Importantly, staff at Sylvanvale now think proactively about safety and are committed to keeping each other safe. As a result, hazard reporting has increased by 1,000 per cent over the past two years.
The company recently introduced an Employee Wellbeing Program aimed at maintaining a mentally healthy workplace as well as the ‘Value of Safety’ awards, which aim to reward and recognise their people for demonstrating what good safety looks like. It's exciting initiatives like these that show it's just the beginning of a great safety journey for the Sylvanvale team.