WorkSafe Vic: Parmalat Rowville - Talking Health, Thinking Safety - Parmalat Aus...

Commitment to workplace health and wellbeing

We process and package milk including the brands Pauls, REV and Skinny.

What motivated you to set up a health and wellbeing program?

We were alarmed by the results of our WorkSafe Worker Health Checks conducted in 2010. The number of people who had participated who were in the high risk categories for potentially life threatening illnesses was alarming. After discussing the results as a management group, it was felt the best way to tackle the issue is by fixing the problem before it becomes one. By offering people advice on healthier lifestyle options, we could not only potentially lower our work related injuries, but also give people the opportunity to embrace a healthier lifestyle and take responsiblity for their own wellbeing.

What does your program involve?

Talking Health, Thinking Safety is basically arming our staff with the tools that they need to lead a more productive life. We've offered courses on making healthier food choices, quitting smoking, dealing with depression, the importance of exercise and stretching prior to work, just to name a few. In addition to our own resources, we have also engaged the services of a Corporate Health team who have assisted us in rolling out our program and brought their ideas to the mix. We've done sessions on manual handling, core strength and dealing with stress and anxiety.

What did you do to promote the program?

The word is spread via flyers on noticeboards and lunch tables, whole site emails and via Toolbox Talks held regularly with all departments. We now have a bi-monthly newsletter which details upcoming events we have planned as well as events that our staff might be interested in getting involved in, ie Fun Runs, Marathons, etc. We also ensure that our managers and coordinators are all on board and spreading the word regularly with our employees. The secret has been to keep it front of mind and rather than just a fleeting focus, encouraging people to make permanent changes.

Who participated in the program?

All staff at our Rowville manufacturing plant were encouraged to participate. This included production personnel, truck drivers and order pickers. Our National Call Centre is also located on site as well as a large administration and sales contingent. It was not mandatory for these people to attend, however due to the positive feedback it was generating, a lot of these staff also requested that they become involved. It was clear from the feedback we received that all our staff wanted us to help them lead healthier lives and really just needed to be guided in the direction.

What was the impact of the program and how was this measured?

Our safety statistics speak for themselves with a 54.5% decrease in MTI and LTI reports during 2011. It has also been encouraging to get recognition from our peers around the country. For two years running the Talking Health, Thinking Safety program has been voted the best safety intiative within the Parmalat group around Australia. Our canteen reported a 50% drop in the sale of fried foods and an increase for requests for multi-grain and wholemeal bread and rolls. Soft drink consumption is down and water consumption up. At least 6 people gave up smoking and several reported weight loss.

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