State agencies lead on workplace health and safety

The inaugural Corporate Health and Productivity Management Awards: Allan Lally (second from left); Louise Cross (third from right); and Sean Sullivan (second from right).


By Angela Dorizas

The Queensland Department of Public Works has taken the top gong in the inaugural Corporate Health and Productivity Management Awards.

Presented at the Australian Health & Productivity Management (AHPM) Congress in Melbourne this week, the award recognised public and private sector organisations that had measurably improved their business competitiveness through the application of health and productivity management (HPM).

The award was accepted by Allan Lally, manager of workplace health and safety at the Department of Public Works Queensland.

Mr Lally said the department had provided a highly successful HPM program to its 8000 employees for more than 10 years.

Despite its longevity, the program has remained flexible, with new health checks and HPM strategies being added where appropriate.

“We’ve been going for more than a decade now, but we’ve taken the opportunity every couple of years to reshape the program and keep abreast of what’s going on,” Mr Lally told Government News.

“That’s certainly been a key part of why it has been successful.”

Gaining the support of senior management was also critical.

“It probably takes a bit of courage for a director general and a deputy director general to go down this path,” Mr Lally said.

“You’ve got to be prepared to take a risk, based on the right evidence and business case, and our senior leadership group has done that.

“The fact that they've been on board from the very start has made the job a lot easier for the people who run the program.”

The program has resulted in clear productivity gains and improvements in the health and wellbeing of employees.

“We’ve dropped nearly 1000 days in terms of our days lost to workplace injury in the last three years alone,” Mr Lally said.

“We’ve had a lot of great testimonials from people, including the really significant cases, where people have found out that they’ve got early stages of cancer and have been able to do something about it – that’s life changing.”

Among the award judges was Sean Sullivan, president and chief executive of the Institute for Health and Productivity Management (IHPM).

He said the Department’s health and wellbeing program was “one of the best” he had seen in his travels across the globe.

“The Department of Public Works’ application was truly amazing,” Mr Sullivan told Government News.

“It was so strategic. It had very high level goals and objectives.

“It also had senior leadership from the very top, right from the start, which has been sustained.

“I would put the Queensland Department of Public Works in an international contest. I really would – they were that good.”

Mr Sullivan also praised the runner up, SA Water, for its program participation rates.

“There are obviously champions within the organisation who make it happen at the workplace level,” he said.

“That’s critical. Senior leadership alone won’t do it. There have to be champions in the organisation.”

SA Water manager of OHS&W services, Louise Cross, said the voluntary HPM program had a participation rate of 86 per cent.

“It’s a program that goes right across the organisation,” Ms Cross told Government News.

“It reaches people out in our regional areas – our high risk areas.

“In those regions the involvement and participation has been fantastic.”

Ms Cross said the program provided regional employees with health checks and follow-up consultations that would otherwise be out of reach.

Critical to the success of the program was a demonstrable return on investment, she added.

“We put together some key performance indicators that didn’t only measure the success of the program, in terms of participation, but also improvements in health over a relatively short amount of time,” Mr Cross said.

“It’s often hard to demonstrate that return on investment, but we were able to do that.”

Full coverage of the AHPM Congress in the October-November issue of Government News magazine

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