Among several challenges present within the sector, local governments are managing an ageing workforce and their ever-increasing issues of workplace injuries and chronic ailments such as obesity, cardiovascular disease and mental illness. This has led to a rise in workers’ compensation claim costs.
Managing an ageing workforce isn’t going to go away anytime soon with over 40% of the Australian population aged over 50 (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare). An ageing workforce has serious implications for employers and people managers as they seek to provide a safe workplace for all workers.
In addition many people are choosing to work for longer with the average retirement age being between 62 and 65. Workforce participation rates for those over 65 has more than doubled since the start of 2000 from 6.1% to 15.5% in December 2022 (Superguide.com.au).
To support members in managing this issue LGIS has launched our worker wellbeing pilot with a group of 15 members. Pilot participants are a cross sample of the sector with metro, regional and rural shires, towns and cities taking part in the project.
The pilot aims to reduce the risk of injury/claims by proactively engaging expertise from different areas within LGIS over a period of six to 12 months. These areas include health and wellbeing, people risk, injury management and injury prevention.
The pilot has been in development for the last six months and commenced in May 2023.
Treadmill desks have become a topic of increased curiosity; they’re all over social media with millions of views, especially after the work from home culture kicked in.
Having fitness for work conversations can be confronting and challenging for both leaders and workers as they may involve questions of personal health (mental or physical), uncertain outcomes, sensitive topics and strong emotions. As challenging as they are, they are a vital tool for effective people management.
LGIS prevention services have shown significant benefits to the Scheme since their commencement in 2014, including reducing claims by 2.5% in the first year (2014), and a 30% overall reduction in total musculoskeletal (MSD) claims between 2013 and 2022. Although these statistics positively reflect the overall success of the Scheme’s prevention and wellbeing services, LGIS has seen increases in the number of claims in the ageing workforce (above 50 years). With this increasing trend, it now accounts for 40% of Scheme claim costs (Figure 1).
The Worker Wellbeing Pilot is divided into three phases, with phase 1 starting in May this year.
In phase one, LGIS works with the member to understand the specific issues facing the organisation. We use an ageing workforce questionnaire and a health and wellbeing survey to capture a ‘point in time’ picture. We will also work with leaders to clarify workforce objectives and make sure that all managers and supervisors understand the injury management process, the role they play, and the resources available to support them.
Once LGIS has worked closely with leaders, phase two then delivers targeted services to individuals in high risk roles. Services will include individual health coaching and goal setting consults, plus educating teams to proactively manage manual task risks through the PErforM program (Participatory ergonomics for manual tasks).
Following implementation of the program, LGIS will review outcomes and provide guidance. Participating members will be provided with a close out report which includes targeted recommendations to ensure that momentum is maintained, and work, health and safety processes, and workplace health and wellbeing continues to improve.
Our pilot group members have been selected based on analysis of the sector’s musculoskeletal (MSD) claims data.
It is important to note that although the pilot members were selected based on their age related claims data, the project’s services will aim to improve worker wellbeing for all workers within the highest risk job roles.
Through this project, LGIS aims to work with members to improve the health and wellbeing of their people. What we learn from the program will allow us to respond to the sector’s needs and continue to deliver effective risk management services.
We know that healthy employees are less likely to get injured at work, and more likely to have positive return to work outcomes, particularly as they age. By gathering information about our pilot member’s current policies and procedures, and providing evidence based intervention strategies, LGIS is confident this project has the potential to make a significant impact on the workers’ compensation landscape within the WA local government sector.
For more information on the program and LGIS health and wellbeing services, please contact the WorkCare team.
Local governments face a range of challenges when managing their people, avoiding injury and reducing workers’ compensation claims. Like many industries, the sector is managing an ageing workforce and an increase in chronic issues such as obesity, heart disease, and mental illness.
A major return to work barrier, following a long absence due to an injury or health concern, is a worker’s ability to keep up with the
physical demands of the role. Every job role has a unique footprint that requires different physical and cognitive capabilities.
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generation. WA local governments need to consider inflationary pressures when valuing both their property and motor assets so that they can be confident that if disaster strikes, your protection will be adequate to appropriately respond.