14 Jun PErforM better in the workplace
In the workplace it is important that any potential risks are identified, minimised and reduced to ensure the health and safety of all persons.
SafeWork Australia are constantly delivering on new ways to help workplaces strive for this and have developed a manual task risk management program known by the acronym, PErforM (Participative Ergonomics for Manual Tasks) to do just this.
The PErforM program has been developed to ensure that workplaces are taking those extra steps to ensure that manual handling is done without any permanent health damage.
Health concerns, such as musculoskeletal disorders, are a common occurrence in the workplace with over 300,000 serious cases having been reported in Australia between 2009 and 2014.
Between 2016 and 2017, over 40,000 health claims were made as a result of this disorder, making it a priority for Australian work, health and safety (WHS) program strategies going into the future.
Musculoskeletal disorders are often a cause of body stressing, “… due to repetitive movements, muscle loading, muscular stress with no objects being handled, muscular stress while handling objects other than lifting, carrying or putting down and muscular stress while lifting, carrying or putting down objects,” according to Safe Work Australia.
So what exactly can PErforM do to reduce these risks?
The program is targeted at providing the resources and training that will allow workplaces to develop a proper manual safety risk assessment framework.
As part of this process teams are provided the skills to understand, control and locate risks and facilitate ways to minimise them.
As a workplace you will be supplied with all the appropriate tools and resources to get you on your way to implementing a risk assessment procedure that boosts productivity, improves workplace morale and reduces injury and absences. All the resources can be sourced on SafeWork Australia’s website.
What are the benefits of this program?
The results of having a risk management program in place are abundant, but some of the stand out benefits include;
- Better Control of Risks – By implementing a program, like PErforM, workplaces are better equipped to locate and understand the potential risks. As a result, alternatives and solutions can be found to minimise and control the likelihood of these risks causing harm to others.
- Compliance with Legislation – Workplaces are required, by law, to have a strict set of measures in place to ensure the health and safety of all employees. PErforM ensures that health and safety is handled with responsibility and in a way that complies with Australian law.
- Improved Productivity – When workers are being put to work and exerting more energy and pressure into manual tasks there is a greater risk posed to both mental and physical health. By implementing solutions that replace these health risks, more time for productive work can be made, as tasks take less time, people are less exhausted and aren’t in pain.
- Decrease in injuries and absences – which both impact on productivity and result in increased costs, (i.e. for hiring and training new staff, workers compensation premiums, and common law claims), not to mention the pain and suffering caused to the injured worker and their families.
- Increased morale – PErforM may improve the work environment and make workers feel that their employer cares about their work conditions and health and wellbeing.
- Greater recruitment and retention rates – as workers may be more selective about who they work for given the current skills shortage. Workplaces with good health and safety practices may be more attractive to workers
So, how exactly can your workplace implement PErforM?
First things first, you can register online for a PErforM workshop, which is all about showing you the ropes in a ‘classroom’ setting and getting you geared up with all the appropriate knowledge to start implementing manual task risk management in the workplace.
Then there are a few important steps you can take back to your workplace, outlined by SafeWork here.
- Obtaining Management Commitment – introduce this program to leaders and management at your workplace who can then commit to the program and then delegate people to be responsible for ensuring the procedures are followed through.
- Developing a Plan – this step is all about delegating people in your workplace to train and facilitate the program and also prepare a communication plan that will educate people about the program, how it will be implemented, what it will do, etc.
- Identifying Hazardous Manual Tasks – Using the anonymous worker discomfort survey, you will be on your way to identifying areas in the workplace that your employees feel uneasy about. It’s also a good idea to review injury reports and data, as to point out where these injuries take place at work so they can be minimised.
- Training Workplace Trainers and Work Teams – these trainers and work teams will need to be run-through all the appropriate training to ensure the PErforM program is effective and that each important step is being ensured along the way.
- Conduct Risk Assessment and Propose Controls – prioritise and conduct risk assessments, using survey results as well as utilising on-the-job observations. Once these have been established, propose ways in which these risks could be controlled.
- Implement Controls – review discussed control methods, trial these methods and then regularly review them after they’ve been implemented.
- Evaluate PErforM program – look at and take note of positive AND negative performance indicators to give you an idea of where about’s you can improve and where you are excelling. It’s also important to receive feedback from employees about how well these risks are being dealt with and how they personally feel about any changes. By handing out a quick employee feedback survey, businesses will be able to navigate any gaps in their risk management strategy, see what is working well and set goals to improve on areas of concern.
By ensuring the safety of your staff, you are working towards a more productive, happier and fun work environment. The steps are simple and the results are life-changing, so why not give it a go?
Go check out what you can do today and see the difference it can make for your workplace. Better yet, bring the team along to this year’s event and learn more together!
For any/all resources in relation to the PErforM program, please check out SafeWork NSW’s website here.