Origin Energy engaged Back on Track to deliver PErforM training for all workers on the APLNG project. PErforM is an acronym for Participative Ergonomics for Manual Tasks, and is an internationally recommended approach for reducing musculoskeletal injuries. (1)
Most people recognise that heavy lifting is a hazardous manual task. However, there is a misconception that eliminating heavy lifting is all that’s required to manage injury risk. Unfortunately, it’s just not that simple. Musculoskeletal injuries occur through excessive exposure to a variety of risk factors, which certainly do include exertion of force and heavy lifting, but also include exposure to:
- Sudden or high force, such as when opening a stuck door which suddenly gives way;
- Repetitive movement such as working on a manufacturing line, vacuuming or mopping;
- Sustained or repeated awkward postures, such as bending to work at ground level for much of the day; and
- Vibration of the whole body or the arm, such as from operating mobile plant or a jack-hammer.
The aim of Back on Track’s PErforM training was to raise awareness among Origin’s drilling and field contractors about the sources of musculoskeletal injury risk, and to enable them to identify hazards, assess risks and offer solutions. To develop customised training, Back on Track conducted worksite assessments on drilling rigs and at pipeline constructions. Potentially hazardous manual tasks were photographed and videoed for use in case scenarios. Tailored content was developed and the 2-hour course was delivered with practical activities and group participation. Staff particularly enjoyed the stretch breaks when they were given the opportunity to ‘Ask the Physio’ and get solutions about how to improve their comfort, fitness and flexibility.
Upon completion of the course, each crew was asked to identify three potentially hazardous manual tasks and to devise risk control options. Groups were invited to present their ideas and they were incentivised with the promise of a $50 Bunnings gift card for each member of the winning crew. Staff engagement was exceptional! Follow up was conducted one month after training and it revealed comprehensive knowledge of the manual task risk factors learned in Back on Track’s PErforM training.
Over 40 training sessions were delivered to 700+ workers in a 2-month period. There were over 100 risk assessments completed and more than 20 improvements to equipment and work practices in the 12 months that followed training. While indicators such as injury rates are somewhat unreliable as outcome measures, it was interesting that Origin Energy’s contractors experienced an extraordinary reduction in their TRIFR (total recordable incident frequency rate) from 28 to 14 within 3 months of Back on Track’s PErforM training.