CarpenterWorkCover NSW has launched a program offering small businesses  free coaching and advice  from industry experts. The new Safety Coach Program aims to help make workplaces more productive, healthy and safe.

The wood products manufacturing industry had 1965 workers’ compensation claims in the three  years to 2010, at a total cost of $19.5 million. This makes it one of the ten highest risk industries in New South  Wales (NSW).

The pilot Safety Coach Program specifically targeted the kitchen, joinery and roof  frame truss manufacturing sectors to help combat these figures.

Under  this program, small businesses  got one-on-one coaching assistance to help them  improve their  work health  and safety and return to work processes. The coaches—experts with proven experience in managing risky work practices—provide practical support and industry specific advice.

The role of the safety coach  is to:

  • assess the workplace, and
  • help develop an action plan addressing any safety issues.

The coach  revisits the business to follow up on the plan and see how  it has progressed.

Businesses that  complete their  action plan are awarded a ‘certificate of participation’ in the program and those who elect to have a follow up visit become eligible for a small business rebate of $2000 which can be spent  on safety solutions for the business.

To date 48 NSW businesses  in the wood products manufacturing sector have completed the program. The safety coaches  came from the Furnishing Industry Association of Australia and the Timber Trade Industrial Association of Australia.

All of the participants in the pilot program said they  made changes  to improve safety in their  workplace as a result of their involvement in the program. Most of them (95 per cent) reported they  were  better at identifying unsafe practices and addressing any safety issues they  found.

All businesses  involved in the program applied for the Wood Products Rebate. Seventy five per cent  of the solutions focussed on dust extraction and hazardous manual  tasks, which were  the two top risks identified for this sector. The government rebate plus the businesses’  input totalled $74 474 spent  on practical safety solutions.

These results demonstrate the positive outcomes achieved from industry and WorkCover NSW working together.

Peter and Jocelyn Jones are the owners of a West Gosford business, The Cabinet Factory, who  participated in the Safety Coach Program. The improvements they  made  didn’t just make their  workers safer—they improved productivity across the business.

“The demands on a small business can make finding the time to prioritise safety a challenge,” Mr Jones said.

“Through thesupport of our safety coach, we developed and implemented an action plan that has seen an improved safety culture across the business.”

What’s next for the Safety Coach Program?

Bigger and better things!  The Safety Coach Program is now  open to short distance road  freight transport carriers. Since August 2014 the program is targeting small businesses  in the short haul sector.

In this industry sector, the safety coaches  will be work health  and safety professionals. There were  50 initial visits in 2014 with a further 50 visits planned for 2015.

For further information on the Safety Coach Programs and WorkCover NSW’s small business rebates, visit theWorkCover NSW website or call 13 10 50.

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