WorkPac named finalist in 2017 Hunter Safety Awards

BY: Tracey Mesken30/01/2017

​WorkPac has been named a finalist in the 2017 Hunter Safety Awards for the Most Innovative Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) Idea category for large organisations.WorkPac won the 2016 Hunter Safety Award for best WHS Management System and has been recognised for its industry-leading safety in Hunter workplaces.Winners will be announced at the Hunter Safety Awards gala event on Friday 17th March 2017.National Safety and Risk Manager, Rachel Pearse says WorkPac wanted to support employees and facilitate discussion on fatigue and mental health while addressing the key challenges of engaging with a geographically diverse workforce.“Our initiative was to broaden our communication approach of safety messages across platforms like video and social media,” Ms Pearse said.“Our first message focused on fatigue management and our second message focused on mental health and wellbeing which are two really important issues in our line of work,” she said.Across the industries WorkPac services, the statistics speak for themselves. A construction worker is six times more likely to commit suicide than die as a result of a workplace incident. If the worker is under 24 years of age, the risk increases by 10 times.The Minerals Council of Australia’s blueprint for mental health and wellbeing estimates costs to the resources industry, including lowered productivity, is between $320 million to $450 million per year or around $300,000 to $400,000 for an average worksite of 170 people. Luke Tresidder, Business Centre Manager at WorkPac Hunter Valley says the WorkPac team wanted to do more than produce posters and flyers or transfer the responsibility over to an external Employee Assistance Program provider when dealing with mental health issues.“We engaged with our workforce and identified that traditional forms of communication were no longer the only way to reach our field team. We didn’t want to wait around for tragic statistics before we formulated an initiative to address fatigue and mental health,” Mr Tresidder said.“We knew we needed to implement new ways to reach our workforce and our research pointed to social media, video communication and real people communicating sincere messages,” he said.WorkPac’s Head of Marketing Tracey Mesken says Facebook now serves more than 8 billion video views per day.“That’s double the amount the video content users were consuming in early 2015,” Ms Mesken said.“LinkedIn and Facebook allowed us to elevate workplace challenges that have influencing factors external to the workplace, into social networks enabling a peer engagement forum.“The campaign drove greater awareness and acceptance by our employees to openly discuss these challenging topics.“To be a finalist again is a fantastic achievement and we are happy to be recognised two years running, this is a real credit to the Hunter Valley and Newcastle teams’ efforts.”WorkPac is proud to be finalists in what will be a hotly contended category.Regardless of the outcome, WorkPac congratulates all nominees for their contributions towards making workplaces in the Hunter Region safe. WorkPac will continue to explore video and social media amplification of messages using these platforms to further enhance safety education and communication.In its 20 years of operation, WorkPac has experienced no fatalities or prosecutions and has one of the lowest Lost Time Injury Frequency Rates in the contingent labour industry.


Safety Message: Hay Fever

BY: Tracey Mesken22/12/2016

​It’s that time of year. Where the eyes hurt, the sneezes start and antihistamine medication use is on the rise. Our WorkPac Safety and Risk Management Team have put together some information on hay fever and how to manage it during the summer season.What is it?Allergic rhinitis, otherwise known as Hay Fever is an allergic reaction that affects large numbers of people every year. There are two main classifications. These are:Seasonal: experience symptoms during spring and summer with the most common allergen to be pollen.Perennial (all year round): experience symptoms all year around with the most common allergens to be dust mites, animals, moulds and dust.Allergies are common. Your genes and environment may make you more prone to allergies.Whether or not you are likely to develop allergies is often passed down through families. If both your parents have allergies, you are likely to have allergies. The chance is greater if your mother has allergies.How the allergy works?The nose has very fine hair that acts like a biological dust mask which catches and filters particles that enter, trapping them. These either exit through sneezing or becoming trapped to mucous and going down the back of the throat. When you suffer hay fever the fine hairs in the nose become inflamed from the particles that are entering the nose. As a result the body will create chemicals called histamines which give you the symptoms.SymptomsSymptoms can vary in severity and type. Symptoms often occur shortly after you come into contact with the substance you are allergic to and may include:Itchy or runny noseItchy mouth, eyes, throat, skinProblems with smellSneezingWatery (teary) eyesFor longer term reactions symptoms that may develop later include:Nasal congestionCoughingClogged earsDecreased sense of smellSore throatPuffy and dark circles under the eyesFatigue and irritabilityHeadache TreatmentBefore undertaking any treatment it’s best to consult your doctor for a diagnosis and treatment advice. Once confirmed that you have hay fever the best treatment is to avoid or reduce the exposure to the triggers. However where this is not possible, there are a number of treatment options that may be considered. Typically these can be either medication or desensitisation treatment. Examples include:AntihistaminesCorticosteroid nasal spraysDecongestantsDesensitisation injectionsMake sure you read the product information especially if you are driving or operating equipment and follow the advice of your pharmacist or doctor. Sources:www.allergy.org.auwww.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth


Fatigue Management: A Worker's Guide

BY: Tracey Mesken24/10/2016

​WHAT IS FATIGUE?Fatigue is more than feeling tired and drowsy. In a work context, fatigue is a state of mental and/or physical exhaustion that reduces a person’s ability to perform work safely and effectively.It can occur because of prolonged or intense mental or physical activity, sleep loss and/or disruption of the internal body clock.Signs of fatigue include:Tiredness even after sleepReduced hand-eye coordination or slow reflexesShort term memory problems and an inability to concentrateBlurred vision or impaired visual perceptionA need for extended sleep during days off work WHAT CAUSES FATIGUE?Fatigue can be caused by work related or non-work related factors or a combination of both.Work related causes of fatigue include excessively long shifts, not enough time to recover between shifts and blocks of shifts, very strenuous jobs and long commuting times. An example of non-work related fatigue would be poor quality sleep due to street noise or family demands.THE BODY CLOCKMost people are day-orientated meaning they are most alert and productive in the daytime and sleep at night. The circadian rhythms (the body clock) cause regular variations in individual body and mental functions repeated approximately every 24 hours.These rhythms regulate sleeping patterns, body temperature, heart rate, hormone levels, digestion and many other functions.These rhythms influence job performance and quality of sleep. Most of the body’s basic functions show maximum activity by day and minimum activity by night.The body rhythms affect the behaviour, alertness, reaction times and mental capacity of people to varying degrees.WHY IS FATIGUE A PROBLEM IN THE WORKPLACE?Fatigue may increase the risk of incidents because of a lack of alertness. Fatigue may result in a slower reaction to signals or situations and affect the ability to make good decisions, particularly when:Operating fixed or mobile plant including driving vehiclesUndertaking critical tasks that require a high level of concentrationUndertaking night or shift work when a person would ordinarily be sleeping.A person conducting a business or undertaking must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers while they are at work.This means if fatigue is identified as causing a risk to work health and safety, then suitable control measures should be implemented in consultation with workers to eliminate or minimise the risks.YOUR RESPONSIBILITY AS A WORKERWorkers have a duty to take reasonable care for their own safety and health and that their acts or omissions don’t adversely affect the health or safety of others.Workers must also comply with any reasonable instruction and cooperate with any reasonable policy or procedure relating to fatigue at the workplace, for example fitness for work policies and policies regarding second jobs.REDUCING THE RISK OF FATIGUETo reduce the risk of being involved in a work incident caused by fatigue, you should:Comply with your organisation’s policies and procedures relating to fatigueUnderstand your sleep, rest and recovery needs and obtain adequate rest and sleep away from workSeek medical advice and assistance if you have or are concerned about a healthcondition that affects your sleep and/or causes fatigueAssess your own fitness for work before commencing workMonitor your level of alertness and concentration while you are at workLook out for signs of fatigue in the people you work withIn consultation with your supervisor, take steps to manage fatigue, for example take a break or short nap (night shift), maintain hydration (drink water), do some stretching or physical exercise, adjust the work environment (lighting, temperature)Talk to your supervisor or manager if you foresee or experience being impaired by fatigue likely to create a health and safety risk e.g. because of a health condition, excessive work demands or personal circumstancesAssess your fatigue levels after work and take suitable commuting and accommodation options (e.g. avoiding driving if fatigued) HOW MUCH SLEEP DO WE NEED?Sleep researchers believe there is no one magic number for ‘sleep need’ and there are a lot of individual differences in what children and adolescents need to sleep to be at their best. But below is a guide of the best evidence we have so far:Babies under 1: 14-18 hours throughout the day and nightToddlers: 12-14 hours per 24 hour periodPrimary school: 10-12 hours per dayHigh school: 8-10 hours per dayAdults: 7-9 hours per day GOOD SLEEP HYGIENE CAN HELP PROMOTE GOOD SLEEP"Sleep hygiene" - this can be defined as habits that can help us to sleep or stop us from sleeping. If you or someone you know is having trouble sleeping you can try to change or include some of the things on this list and see if it helps.No TV/computer games 1 hour before bed. No TV s in bedroomsMonitor mobile phone use in bedNo caffeine, high sugar or high spicy food 3-4 hours before bedEnsure relaxing and regular bed time routine - special time with children, relaxation techniques such as breathingNo vigorous exercise 1 hour before bed - it raises the body temperatureFinish eating 2-3 hours before bed - digestion competes with sleeping - hot milk is OKMake sure the bedroom is comfortable (temperature, light, noise)Set bedtimes and wake times - try and keep these regularLearn to relax - deal with worry and stressUse a sleep diary to check how many hours you are sleeping - Are you sleeping enoughConvince children that it is important to sleep well - reward them for complying with bedtime rules


Managing workplace stress

BY: Tracey Mesken02/12/2015

​Emotions are contagious and workplace stress impacts your professional interactions, your family and your health. Managing work-related stress is critical to your wellbeing and to the people around you.​According to the Victorian State Government, workplace stress is the second most commonly compensated illness/injury in Australia, after musculoskeletal disorders.Share this Image On Your Site<p><a href="https://www.workpac.com/blog/managing-workplace-stress/"><img src="https://www.workpac.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/managing_workplace_stress_lg.jpg" alt="Managing Workplace Stress" width="540px" border="0" /></p><p></a>This infographic was provided by WorkPac: <a href="https://www.workpac.com/blog/managing-workplace-stress/">Managing Workplace Stress</a></p><br /><br />Quick stress relieving techniques you can do at your desk or onsiteTake a deep breath: Breathing counteracts stress by slowing your heart rate and lowering blood pressure. Sit up straight, close your eyes and focus on breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth.Have an avo! High potassium foods fight fatigue and stress.Stretch. Sit up tall in your chair, or stand up. Stretch your arms overhead and interlock your fingers. It's a great way to release tension instantly.Crank up the tunes. Music has a powerful effect on our physiological functions. 


Safe Work Month 2015 Re-Cap

BY: Tracey Mesken23/11/2015

​A message from WorkPac’s National Safety and Risk Manager, Rachel Pearse on National Safe Work Month 2015."With October being National Safe Work Month, we decided this was a great opportunity for us to focus on and promote safety in the workplace to reduce death, injury and disease in support of this year’s theme, Be safe. Be healthy. Because….The involvement from our Business Centres and FTMs has been overwhelming and we don’t intend to stop just because October is over. We are committed to keeping the energy high and the momentum going, staying focused on ensuring we all go home to the things that matter each and every day!" In WorkPac Biloela The Biloela Team attended a WorkPac Toolbox Meeting at Ostwalds, Moura. WorkPac have had several onsite injuries so we arranged a safety awareness breakfast BBQ, just one of the ways we promote our commitment to a zero harm workplace. The BBQ gave us an opportunity to discuss the importance of identifying hazards, looking out for your mates, presenting fit for work and most importantly managing your fatigue coming into the festive season.​In WorkPac Townsville The WorkPac Townsville team promoted Sun Safety & Hydration. Being a hot and humid region with some extreme UV ratings, the team focused on the slip, slop, slap message and the importance of drinking at least 1.5 litres of water a day.    


National Safe Work Month - Mental Health & Wellbeing

BY: Tracey Mesken29/10/2015

​Mental Health can affect anyone regardless of their age, gender, ethnicity or social group. The most common forms of mental ill health are anxiety, depression, phobic anxiety disorders and obsessive compulsive disorders.  It is anticipated that by 2020 depression will rank second to heart disease as the leading cause of disability worldwide. Health and wellbeing at workConnection between health and work:The connection between physical hazards such as noise, dust and chemical hazards and health are well recognised amongst employers and employees alike. Less well understood is the relationship between mental and physical wellbeing and the jobs we do.Over two million people report suffering an illness they believe has been caused or made worse by their work.This can take the form of stress, anxiety, back pain, depression and increased risk of coronary heart disease.Possible signs of mental illness in the workplacePoor mental health increases the likelihood of sleep disturbance and anxiety, which can reduce the ability to concentrate on work tasks and production.  Fatigue and other outcomes of stress and poor mental health can increase the likelihood of an employee being hurt. Some key signs to look for are:Constantly feeling down or hopelessHaving little interest or pleasure in doing thingsAn employee maybe more irritable, restless, feeling tired all the time, or experience a loss of energyIncrease in sick daysExcessive use of alcohol or drugsRapid changes of emotional moodPoor performanceOverall, a person’s usual behaviour changes - they don’t seem their usual selves.StressStress can be defined as “the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them.”Employees have responsibilities to talk to their managers about any external influences which can turn otherwise normal pressures of work into excessive ones.Breaking the silence around mental illnessThe negative attitudes and behaviours that surround mental illness prevent many workplaces from understanding how to deal with mental health issues. Stigma can cause co-workers to isolate someone with a problem, and cause those living with mental illnesses to hide their condition.How do we create an accepting, non-discriminatory environment?In WorkPac it starts from the top down. Our management strive to ensure a good working culture where differences are valued, discrimination is not accepted, and cooperative and flexible approaches to working situations for everyone are the norm.This is achieved by fostering an environment that promotes:InclusionRespectListeningUnderstandingWhat can I do?There are things that you can do to help yourself be well and stay well. These are the simple, effective things that you know work for you. What's in your wellness toolbox? Some examples include:Talk to a friendEat three healthy meals per dayExercisePlay with your family or pet after workGo for a walkDo some stretching exercisesReadDo something nice for someone elseWatch a videoListen to musicSee a counsellorAsk for a medication checkGet outdoors regularlyMost importantly seek help, speak to someone and don’t struggle through alone!  Remember it’s not just a case of trying to be tough, if you don’t feel mentally well seek help.WorkPac has an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provided by Gryphon Psychology; this company offers professional counselling for all employees, partners and dependent children to help resolve personal and work related problems.  EAP is a free service and is completely confidential.This month is National Safe Work Month and is a great opportunity for all of us to focus on promoting safety in the workplace to reduce death, injury and disease.  If assistance or information is required relating to WorkPac’s EAP provider Gryphon Psychology, please contact your assigned WorkPac Recruitment Coordinator.  The WorkPac Employee Assistance Number is 1800 056 076.