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third sector Awards Mental Health

Putting safety first bag this organisation the icare Aware Award

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Less than five years ago, Sylvanvale’s workers compensation costs were putting the viability of the organisation at risk. Today, the Kirrawee-based company that’s cared for people with disability since 1947 has halved its workers compensation claims.

As a result, the Sutherland Shire organisation has been awarded one of the state’s highest accolades for injury prevention and keeping their people safe – the icare Aware Award.

Sylvanvale’s Work Health & Safety Manager, Amber Haran said after a period of significant growth around a decade ago, Sylvanvale’s poor safety record began to cost staff and the organisation dearly.

“Historically Sylvanvale had a poor safety record with a high number of injured workers taking time off the job or being assigned modified work duties, causing workers compensation premiums to spiral. Being a disability services provider, the typical injuries our carers experienced were musculoskeletal injuries from lifting people and the typical slips, trips and falls,” said Haran.

Faced with an increased number of workplace injuries and a need to improve their workplace safety culture the organisation embarked on a new strategic plan, making safety a guiding value and a key strategic initiative.

Sylvanvale developed a comprehensive Work Health & Safety Strategy comprising over 30 actions to prevent injuries, get injured workers back to work faster, improve safety systems, identify training needs and improve the overall wellbeing of their workers.

icare’s Injury Prevention Manager Jennifer Cameron said icare Aware Awards recognise NSW businesses that strive to prevent injury and keep their people safe.

“By shifting to a proactive safety culture, Sylvanvale has achieved a 50 per cent reduction in workers compensation claims. When the Sylvanvale board and management team demonstrated its commitment to safety, the staff made it a priority to support the strategy and report safety hazards, further removing the potential of workplace injuries,” said Cameron.

Hazard reporting has increased by over 1000 per cent in the past two years at Sylvanvale. Today, Sylvanvale employ a team of three Work Health and Safety staff and they oversee the company mandate to think proactively about safety, improve injury prevention and return to work outcomes.

“Another area we’ve seen real success is site-specific training. We’re now taking training to our staff and tailoring it to the needs of individual sites, which has seen the number of incidents drop by 75 per cent over a period of just three months at one of our centres,” said Haran.

Managers have conversations with team members around mental health, and attend medical appointments with them following an incident, while frontline staff are more open to safety training and sharing safety stories

Sylvanvale’s safety journey is set to continue well into the future with the recent introduction of their Employee Wellbeing Program aimed at maintaining a mentally healthy workplace and with the ‘Value of  Safety’ awards, which reward and recognise their people for demonstrating what good safety looks like.


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