This case study illustrates how undertaking a workplace safety gap analysis helped identify this employer's health and safety risks and improved culture and wellbeing.

Fronditha Care is a not for profit aged and social assistance care services provider with five aged care facilities comprising a total of almost 500 beds and 1000+ clients in Melbourne, Victoria and Newcastle, NSW. The business sought help from the Gallagher Workplace Risk (WPR) team to reduce workers' compensation claims and improve return to work outcomes.

At the same time Fronditha wanted to improve performance in preventing worker illness and/or injury.

The Gallagher team's approach to identifying workplace safety gaps is based on four key initial actions to assist with understanding the current situation and planning constructively for what needs to be addressed.

  1. Desktop review of safety management systems — three yearly (maximum interval) reviews recommended.
  2. Worker consultation through a safety climate survey — to gain worker perceptions of risk in the workplace.
  3. Face to face interviews — to test understanding and practical implementation of safety management systems.
  4. Physical workplace inspection — walking through the workplace to validate risk controls or identify environmental, process and physical risks.

Some of the challenges in the Fronditha case included very dynamic working conditions, the impact of COVID-19 and obtaining support from business leaders within the organisation.

A range of initial barriers to workplace safety were identified, including:

  • an inherited culture dating back 45 years which would be difficult to change
  • a decentralised model of support functions which made obtaining information or trusting accuracy of reported data difficult
  • fragmentation of approach resulting in a lack of uniformity in dealing with issues
  • the need to convince leaders of the value of investing time in the gap analysis survey
  • the need to communicate with workers to explain the value of participation and assure anonymity.

How the business safety gap analysis process contributes to an action plan

To overcome these issues the Gallagher WPR team partnered with Fronditha to conduct a safety gap analysis to help define a clear picture of staff safety issues and the opportunities for improvement, which in turn contributed to the quality of care provided to residents and clients.

In identifying safety issues the team wanted to maintain a distinction between business as usual issues such as infection control and COVID-19 safety practices, as well as auditing workplace layouts and the extent of leadership direction. In order to confirm findings they also examined safety protocol and compliance documentation.

Working with Fronditha, the Gallagher WPR team used findings from the safety gap analysis to formulate an updated safety operational plan outlining key accountabilities and recommended actions.

Empowering workers with skills and tools to improve workplace safety

Line managers would play an integral role in implementing an updated operational safety plan, so the team surveyed this cohort to gauge how Gallagher could assist with educational programs to

  • give them support and tools to meet expectations
  • help them understand their accountability
  • meet the need to roll out education to anyone with direct reports
  • meet the requirement for reporting to remain up to date with changes in regulations.

Fronditha was also able to leverage Gallagher's broad workplace risk expertise and provide their workers with access to resources for

  • injury management best practice
  • identifying risks reflected in rising costs
  • building effective injury prevention and management strategies
  • measuring trends in injuries.

Key results of the workplace safety gap analysis

Understanding where the gaps in risk management were occurring enabled the formulation of appropriate strategies, with the Gallagher WPR team providing support.

After just six months the new safety culture proved its effectiveness in delivering a reduction in workers' compensation claim frequency and costs. In the first year of our partnership Fronditha Care has achieved 80% reduction in workers compensation claims frequency from the prior year, which equates to 9% reduction in workers' compensation premium year one, plus further reductions in future years.

Fronditha Care is now on track to be below the industry rate of claims made for the first time since 2014. The Gallagher early intervention strategies are not only proactively reducing premiums, but our expertise in occupational health is improving the culture, performance and wellbeing of its workers.

In addition, some other safety indicators provided new visibility of the business's improving performance. These include the number of hours assigned to safety training completed, regular reviews of safety management systems for updates, review of job design and roles, and engagement with workers.

Best practice in managing staff illnesses or injuries

Fronditha worked closely with the Gallagher WPR team to reduce staff illness or injury through early intervention and an overhaul of the return to work process.

Early intervention can achieve savings by preventing claims, with staff staying at work and performing adjusted roles in reduced hours. This is a better result than the employee being absent for a period and returning to work at a later date. Monitoring for setbacks or progress is a necessary part of the process.

Where the illness or injury is psychosocial in nature, early warning signs of worker ill health might include changes in appearance and grooming or behavioural and mood changes not consistent with character. In managing psychosocial conditions, reducing stressors or aggravations is an important aspect of supporting recovery.

Key components in achieving a positive outcome to staff illnesses or injuries include

  • early reporting cultures for physical and mental health illness and injury
  • suitable duties registers to identify the physical and cognitive demands of roles
  • flexibility in assigning hours and duties
  • functional capability evaluations to measure worker ability to meet job role requirements
  • injury rehabilitation support especially from the line manager
  • meeting with the treating GP and worker in collaboration
  • stay at work progress reviews.

The benefits of this approach can be realised in fostering a productive and supportive work environment, demonstrating that management is committed to employee safety and increasing the likelihood of the worker returning to work.

Workplace data provides source of truth for results

Workplace data is important in evaluating key performance indicators in workplace safety and illness.

Measures should include lead and lag indicators (a leading indicator covers actions designed to produce desired results, a lagging indicator measures current performance) for injury management including claims costs. Get expert workplace health and safety advice in identifying the right lead and lag indicator mix for your business to define a best practice approach to injury prevention and management.

Find out more by talking to one of the experts on the Gallagher Workplace Risk team. The team's services encompass safety mentoring and training through to health and wellness programs, hazard and risk profiling, and incident management and investigation.


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