Ergonomic assessment services case study: QBE

QBE Australia (QBE) is part of the QBE Insurance Group, one of the world’s top 20 general insurance and reinsurance companies. Headquartered in Sydney, QBE has offices across all states and territories.

Background

Konekt and QBE started working together in 2013 when Konekt was asked to help deliver ergonomic assessment services to QBE employees around the country. Injuries caused by poor ergonomic practices are a major financial burden to business and society. Ergonomic assessment services were provided to address concerns of pain or discomfort relating to ergonomics within QBE’s workforce. The assessment was only one half of the solution however. With the partnership now in its third year, Konekt has also assisted QBE to change its workplace culture to ensure all employees can make best ergonomic practice part of their daily routine. This involved developing a national ergonomic site champion program. Konekt had previous experience implementing this sort of change when it ran a similar, highly successful, program on manual handling practices. During that program, Konekt found cultural change was best managed from within individual teams by peers mentoring and encouraging each other, rather than management-issued directives. It was decided, therefore, to implement a pilot program in three of QBE’s offices, where specially trained “champions” would help encourage their colleagues to make good ergonomic practices part of their everyday routine.

The program

Champions were given group training in best ergonomic practice to ensure they could support the broader QBE team. This included educating their colleagues on basic ergonomic principles and correct set-up, resulting in individual staff taking ownership of their own ergonomic risk.

The program included training on:

  • Basic anatomy and biomechanics, and how posture can impact on health
  • General ergonomic principles (specifically related to the work conducted by the participants)
  • QBE policies and procedures regarding ergonomic risk management
  • Individual assessments through QBE’s online Workstation Self Assessment Checklist
  • Application of ergonomic principles to work specific tasks
  • Adopting a risk management and control approach to ergonomics
  • Monitoring and communicating risks through early reporting.

Champions were offered post-training support via phone and email for a period of three months by an experienced Konekt workplace health expert to enable Champions to answer questions about particular ergonomic situations they had encountered. This follow-up service also allowed Champions to refresh their knowledge and clarify information so they could effectively drive and promote ergonomic self-management within QBE.

Following the implementation of the training sessions, Konekt recommended the Champions conduct workstation reviews with employees in their area, to review set-up and make basic, appropriate changes.

An important factor in the role of the Champions was the prevention of exacerbation to injuries by early reporting and care of pain. Employees were encouraged to report any injury, condition or pain during their workstation review with the Champion. This was then reported to their manager and discussed with the WHS team for guidance as to whether an assessment by a Konekt Allied Health Professional was required.

Outcomes

Konekt has helped QBE achieve an improved culture of reporting, fewer injury-related incidents and an increased awareness of best-practice principles to enable self-management of ergonomic postures.

Since successfully implementing the champion program in QBE’s Melbourne, Sydney and Parramatta offices, there are plans to expand the program to other locations in 2016.