THE return from the festive break has provided an opportunity for some Limestone Coast businesses to reeducate, engage and empower employees to ensure safety remains a top priority in 2020.
Timberlink Australia’s Tarpeena site held its annual Safe Start day to put safe work practices in the spotlight following the break, while also updating staff of any changes in operational procedures.
Tarpeena mill work, health and safety environment group general manager Ro Carlson said the process helped employees make the vital switch from holidays to being back at work.
“We want to make sure people are doing a job in a manner which keeps them safe and allows them to start a job, finish a job and then go home safely,” Mr Carlson said.
“This is the backbone to our program HomeSafe, which is reinvigorated through the workplace and encourages people to perform procedures correctly.”
An on-site manual handling training refresher was provided by direction of health consultant Duncan Kirk.
Mr Kirk said it was important employees knew how to perform physical activity correctly to prevent work injury.
“I am very focused on putting the responsibility back on them and encouraging them to invest in their own health,” Mr Kirk said.
“To get somebody to invest in anything, you need to create an emotional response.
“If somebody in our group is angry at what I am saying, they are invested.”
With 14 years of industry experience, Mr Kirk said there were three main techniques which he encouraged employees to practice while involved in manual handling.
“Soft knees are critical from laying down to standing up, when knees are locked out you are compromising your whole body,” he said.
“I tell them about the ‘gun-slinger’ movement, where they can control 30 degrees forward but not sideways.
“Head position is also crucial as your body’s main aim is to keep your head straight and if it is out-of-place then it causes issues elsewhere.”
As an evolving industry, site work, health, safety and environment leader Shane Anderson said the timber sector eliminated all forms of manual handling wherever possible.
“Wherever you want to go, there are pathways in forestry you can go down which do not just involve lifting heavy things,” Mr Anderson said.
“Timberlink has always made sure hazardous manual handling has been reduced over the years.
“Most of the tasks in operation are not manual, but there are machines which will always require some form of handling.”
Mr Carlson said staying safe in the workplace also came down to the employee’s flexibility, fitness, readiness and everyday health.
Site injury, health and wellbeing manager Kevin Wilhelm said Timberlink encouraged employees to not rush and undertake a job at the cost of their own health.
“We talk about taking those extra seconds to think about actions, how to approach them and how to perform it safely,” Mr Wilhelm said.
“We want to encourage a culture of people who can identify hazards and risks, while empowering them to be able to fix it on the spot and not leave it for someone else.”
Facility manager Roy Dias said a safe stay was not about telling people to be safe, but also about educating and providing employees the tools to ensure they get home safely every day.
“Safe start is similar to a person who when joining a gym will utilise a personal trainer to help educate and improve awareness of performing activities without risk of injury to themselves and others around them,” he said.
“It is not just about physical wellbeing but also about mental wellbeing.
“The day is designed to be interactive and mobile to ensure people remained engaged and involved. This targets both physical and mental demands.”
Mr Dias said employees were also updated on ongoing improvements and upgrades across the site involving the major upgrade, traffic management, amenities and general appearance of the site.
“With our business continuing to evolve, we need to make sure our safety program evolves with it,” Mr Dias said.