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Health & Safety Management: Optimising outcomes from your health, safety and rehabilitation service providers Sue Read - Psychologist Senior Prevention & Injury Management Consultant Comcare. Overview. An integrated organisational approach to health and safety

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Health & Safety Management:

Optimising outcomes from your health, safety and rehabilitation service providers

Sue Read - Psychologist

Senior Prevention & Injury Management Consultant Comcare



  • An integrated organisational approach to health and safety
  • Principles for optimising outcomes from your health, safety and rehabilitation service providers
  • Case study - exploring organisational approaches to identified workplace issues

OHS management information systems

OHS Risk Management Model



leadership and



involvement of

each individual

in the


OHS Risk


Model Principles



risk assessment

and risk control





Provision of



education and



A comprehensive approach to the risk management process

Risk Management

Communicate and consult

Review the Program

Identify the Hazard

Assess the Risks

Control the Risks

Monitor and evaluate the controls


Prevention - Integrated management systems

  • People management
  • Risk management
  • Business performance
  • Customer service



Early Intervention




Reactive approaches to deal with injury or external service providers will not:

  • Address systemic OHS issues
  • Lead to permanent improvements

Organisational problems need organisational solutions

  • A strategic approach will:
  • Allow identification of systemic OHS issues
  • Allow these issues to be prioritised and addressed
  • Lead to long term improvements that survive changing personnel

Planning to engage health, safety and rehabilitation service providers

  • Engaging providers to address organisational issues needs to be strategic, complimentary and aligned with the organisation’s health and safety goals rather than ‘ad hoc’
  • Interventions may be aimed at identifying and addressing risk of injury, supporting and assisting employees at risk, and/or implementing safe and effective return to work of injured employees
  • The closer the intervention to the risk the more far reaching will be the impact and outcomes

Case Study

  • “An employee lodged a claim recently alleging repeated bullying and harassment, and that their manager had engaged in an unfair and inappropriate performance management process. This employee has had higher than the average absent days over the last four months”
  • “you discover that the average number of days off for all staff in this team is nearly twice the average of the rest of the organisation.”
  • “Quarterly reports from the Harassment Contact Officers (HCO’s) network indicate an increase over the last year in the number of requests for informal guidance and support ”
  • “types of behaviours being exhibited by select individuals, and also about one or two senior managers.”
  • “no one really cares about what we do here anyway”

Absenteeism rates across the organisation higher than they were last year

  • Employee Opinion Survey results – 32% of staff ‘experienced bullying or harassing behaviours’ in the last 12 months, high percentage of staff ‘did not feel supported by their line manager’
  • “Employee turnover has been higher than usual, hard to attract and retain good staff to fill a number of recent vacancies”
  • Managers finding it hard to get staff to engage with their work, finding staff ‘unmotivated
  • Recruitment costs have risen by 35% in the last year
  • Increase in EAP usage – 15% increase in work related counselling
  • Exit interviews – 2 senior employees stated in their exit interviews that they believed there was a blaming culture and a culture of only communicating when things had gone wrong. No communication of success

Rehabilitation – assist return to work of injured employees

(Tertiary interventions)

  • Provide safe and effective rehabilitation and return to work for individuals once an injury has occurred and preferably before a workers’ compensation claim has been lodged
  • Focus on the provision of assistance and services after an injury has occurred
  • Ensure that when an injury does occur, employees have a timely return to work and resume prior functioning

Examples of tertiary level interventions are:

  • Policy and procedures to enable safe and durable return to work
  • Assessment of rehabilitation needs
  • Planning rehabilitation programs with general practitioners
  • Early access to treatment
  • Management provision of suitable duties
  • Case conferencing

Early intervention – support employees at risk

(Secondary interventions)

  • Provide a safety net of services and interventions which have a role in preventing injury and providing assistance to aid recovery
  • Monitor the health and wellbeing of employees and identify warning signs of potential injury
  • Intervene early to provide support for employees who are experiencing early signs or symptoms before they develop into an injury or illness

Examples of secondary interventions are:

  • Systematic monitoring of indicators such as absenteeism, turnover, grievances
  • Employee assistance program counselling
  • Manager assistance programs
  • Training (recognition of warning signs)
  • Critical incident debriefing
  • Conflict resolution strategies
  • Early intervention policies and strategies
  • Management support and assistance for employees

Prevention – manage the risk of injury/illness

(Primary interventions)

  • Focus on the risk at the source to prevent it occurring
  • Aim to create a safe and healthy workplace and systematically address workplace hazards that may lead to injury
  • Systems and strategies that an employer has in place prior to an employee starting work

Examples of primary interventions are:

  • leadership development programs
  • developing effective communication through consultation
  • management and staff information education and training in Occupational Health and Safety roles and responsibilities
  • hazard identification, risk assessment and control
  • organisational health evaluation and plan
  • OHS management systems audit

Key questions prior to engaging an external service provider

In the context of the risk management process:

  • Can you describe and define the problem?
  • How could this issue be addressed?
  • What internal resources are available?
  • Has the problem been addressed elsewhere in the organisation or by other agencies?
  • What would the intervention/service be aiming to achieve?
  • How does this intervention align with your agency’s overall health and safety strategy?
  • How will outcomes be measured including value for money?
  • How will the outcomes of this intervention/service be generalised and communicated in your agency?
  • What reporting will be required?

Getting the most out of external service providers

  • Analyse the issue that needs addressing and develop a business case for intervention
  • Outline how the intervention or service provision fits in with the overall health and safety strategies of the organisation
  • Seek assistance to establish a clear service level agreement or contractual arrangement
  • Ensure the service provider has the appropriate qualifications and skills to deliver effectively

Gaining the most out of external service providers

  • Assess whether the service achieves value for money
  • Promote the use of providers in an efficient, effective and ethical manner
  • Make decisions in an accountable and transparent way
  • Ensure that your service level agreement:
  • Clearly sets out expectations
  • Includes service level requirements
  • Outlines a measure of intended outcomes
  • Outlines expected reporting requirements from the provider back to the organisation

Getting the most out of external service providers

  • What do you want them to do?
  • How well do you want them to do it?
  • How will you know if your outcomes are achieved?
  • What will it cost (does it achieve value for money)?
  • What reporting will be provided back to the organisation that can be used for further learning?

Monitor and Review

Monitor and review the implementation (process) and effectiveness (outcome) of interventions:

  • Measure and report against agreed targets and performance indicators, and review against strategy goals
  • Aim for continuous improvement, rather than expecting a dramatic and uniformly positive impact
  • Improve interventions as indicated by the review and evaluation

Engaging service providers – summary

When engaging external service providers rather than being ‘reactionary’ ensure their use is:

  • Strategic – aligned with your organisation’s health and safety goals
  • Meets the identified needs of the organisation
  • Integrates with other risk and people management strategies
  • Mix of organisational and individual level interventions

References – Available at

  • Working Well: an organisational approach to preventing psychological injury (Publication 47)
  • Working Well: steps to prevent and manage psychological injury (Publication 56)
  • Working Well: strategies to prevent psychological injury at work (Publication 57)
  • Targets for achieving better workplace Health, Safety and Rehabilitation. Australian government premium paying employers (Publication 09)
  • Leadership Commitment: Early Rehabilitation Assistance to Employees (Publication 31)

References – Available at

  • Positive performance indicators: Measuring Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Performance (Publication 10)
  • Rehabilitation: Managing Return to Work, a Better Practice Guide for Senior Managers and Supervisors (Publication 16)
  • Identifying Hazards in the Workplace (OHS10)
  • Safe and Sound: Safety Leadership in Government Workplaces (Publication 35)
  • Employee Opinion Surveys(Publication 53)
  • Bullying in the Workplace: A guide to prevention for managers and supervisors (OHS65)
an organisational approach to prevention and management of injury
An organisational approach to prevention and management of injury
  • Strong management commitment
  • Employee involvement
  • Clear description of the problem and business case setting
  • Goals for improvement
  • Integrated management systemsapproach
  • Targeted interventions which may be aimed at prevention, early intervention and rehabilitation