Guest: Brooke Taylor
Guest Bio: Brooke is the founder of corporate rehabilitation firm, Injury Treatment, and has developed a groundbreaking, new early prevention model, which has been tested over numerous Australian businesses to an overwhelming success, saving hundreds and thousands of dollars from their bottom line.
Health Professional Radio
Katherine: Thanks for joining us for Health Professional Radio today. Today, our special guest is Brooke Taylor. Brooke is the founder of corporate rehabilitation firm, Injury Treatment, and has developed a groundbreaking, new early prevention model, which has been tested over numerous Australian businesses to an overwhelming success, saving hundreds and thousands of dollars from their bottom line.
Brooke has had more than a decade of experience working as an occupational therapist. Welcome to our show, Brooke.
Brooke Taylor: Thank you, my pleasure. I’m glad to be here.
Katherine: Thanks for joining us. Now, work had changed a lot, hasn’t it, in the last, I guess, two decades? And the injuries that we see now are probably different to injuries a decade ago, or two decades ago. Can you tell us about some of the injuries in workplaces that you’ve come across?
Brooke: Yes, sure, definitely. I think that injuries certainly continue to change, particularly in Australia. The firm that I run works across a range of different industries, from health to mining to corporate services, with airlines, manufacturing. What we see every day, our 150 consultants, OTs, and physios out there on the ground working with employers, is just a vast range of injuries, from mental health injuries right through to ageing, workforce-associated illnesses. And obviously, then, you’ve got your bulk of your injuries, which would typically fall into your slips, trips, and falls, which are musculoskeletal injuries.
Katherine: Yeah, you’re right. There are so many industries that you cover, and, there would be, obviously, injuries that are more unique to some workplaces than others. Now, you touched upon you have 150 allied health professionals, and they all have over five years’ experience, and they’re currently in Australia businesses at the moment. Is that how injury treatment works?
Brooke: Yeah. So, [indecipherable 02:13] a consulting model that we have, I suppose, designed and refined and developed over the past eight years that we’ve been in operation. So, our core service that we deliver to employers across Australia, particularly the Eastern Seaboard, is an occupational rehabilitation service. So, that means if somebody has an injury in the workplace, one of ourphysios or our OT’s or psychologists will come onsite and work with that employer to assist to get that person back to work as quickly and safely as possible.
So, that can involve things like working with their GP, identifying appropriate suitable duties and negotiating strategies with the employer to get that person back to work as quickly as possible.
Brooke: The other side of our business is about how do we work with employers to actually prevent this from beginning or happening in the first place – and that’s more about working with OH&S and Workers’ Comp specialists within organisations to ensure that they have best practice early intervention systems, to ensure that their injury-identification and illness-identification system are strong, and naturally to make sure that when somebody does have an injury or illness in the workplace, that the ground-level management know how to manage the situation.
Katherine: I don’t think people actually realise, or maybe they have an idea, of how much workplace injuries actually cost Australian businesses overall?
Brooke: Indeed, I think quite often, the financial cost, and obviously the human cost, are significant. From a human point of view, to have somebody out of work, at home, is obviously detrimental to that person’s recovery, but also for that workplace, there’s a gap – that person used to fulfil a role, and somebody else has to pick up and perform their duties. Quite often, employers and industries don’t have the resource to have those people to pick up where somebody’s left a gap. So, from an operational point of view, that obviously has financial implications.
Naturally, from a Workers’ Comp point of view, if something does become a claim, the longer that somebody is off work, that the longer that somebody isn’t getting best practice treatment and getting back on their feet again and into the workplace, the higher that that claim is estimated, and hence, the part of it that hits the employers’ premium.
Katherine: Yeah. Ideally that employee could come back to work as soon as possible and when they’re able to, but, your firm, Injury Treatment, also finds suitable work staff as well if needed, is that correct?
Brooke: Yeah, that’s a fundamental role. So, quite often, employers might have, for example, somebody who’s an engineer but they have an added responsibility of managing return-to-work. So, they’re not experts in identifying what is the most appropriate work for that person to return to, what are the most appropriate light duties for that employee to return to. And they need to be based on the injury itself and the functional recommendations or restrictions that the treating GP or treating physio have prescribed.
So, the fundamental role, if you like, of an OT or a psychologist is to really be that link between the workplace and the injury itself.
Katherine: Yeah, and you touched on this before, and I’d love to go back to it: you mentioned about the ageing workforce, also obesity, and there’s an increase in psychological injuries as well. Can you give us some examples of that?
Brooke: Yes, sure. Certainly from a stress and mental health issue in the workplace, that has been an increasing area which has received, I suppose, more and more media attention over the past eighteen months. What we see as a business is organisationswhere their ground level leadership – so, their supervisors, their team leaders – don’t necessarily have the skills to identify somebody that might be at risk of having some mental health issues.
And more importantly, what do they actually put in place to manage that person and to make sure they’re getting the strategies and the support that they need to do their job every day? So, something that Injury Treatment will quite often be engaged to do is to work with the employer, to say, ‘well, let’s up-skill your leadership team so that they have the necessary skills to not only identify employees that might be at risk, but to put in practical strategies to manage that person to get them back to work and to be productive within their role’.
The mental health space, we utilise organisational psychologists to work with industry to improve the ground level technical capability of leaders and supervisors, to mitigate and manage mental health in the workplace.
Katherine: Right. I’ve been hearing about something that’s been happening in the workforce through family and friends, and because we’re living in kind of economic times where people are downsizing, or having to retrench people, especially the last, say, five years, what’s been happening is they will have to retrench somebody but that work is still there. So, they get the staff that are leftto basically do more work. But they can’t pay them any more, and the actual staff member, they don’t want to complain because they’re worried they’ll lose their job as well.
So, their workload is pretty much doubled, but they’re not getting paid any more, and it’s just putting a lot of stress on a lot of people. Do you find things like this fairly common?
Brooke: We probably see a different side of the issue that you’ve raised. Quite often, when employers are making staff redundant, they may utilise a firm like Injury Treatment to assist in redeploying that workforce into new employers, into new industries. So, we actually have vocational experts and we have rehabilitation counsellors and we have employment placement specialists, who actually work with industries to say, ‘okay’, when we are looking at redundancy in the masses, or even just five to ten staff, ‘how are we actually going to manage this situation?’
So, quite often, Injury Treatment is engaged to look at the placement of the employees and to ensure that they’re obviously getting new employment.
On the other side of the fence, as you mentioned, that does leave, quite often, a workplace where there’s not enough staff to fulfil the job that needs to be performed. Naturally, if people are working outside of their working hours for the day, outside of their job description, they’re doing two jobs instead of one, that’s naturally going to put people at risk of having an injury, and typically, that will be an injury as a result of fatigue or human error due to simply not being able to be focused on what’s required of them.
So, we would normally see that in the form of an incident or an injury that will happen in the workplace. So, ultimately, the costs obviously would come back to that employer to manage that situation anyhow.
Katherine: Your business has grown very rapidly over the last eight years, you were saying?
Brooke: Indeed, it has.
Katherine: So, you’re obviously filling a need in the market, and I know some of the larger corporations especially have a real push for a healthy workplace. They even have wellness offices as a title these days. Have you been seeing that trend?
Brooke: Yes, we do. Yes, we actually have an arm of our business, which isn’t our rehabilitation arm, it’s our training and corporate health arm. So, we employ people who are typically expert physios, or expert exercise physiologists, organisational psychs, that have gone on to do additional studies in corporate health, medicine, OH&S, and what their function is is to work with those businesses and employers and to work with their Corporate Health or their Human Resources teams to put in initiatives to keep the workforce healthy.
So, things as simple as health checks in the workplace, things like exercise programs within the workplace, health promotion and campaigns within the workplace are all things that our training and corporate health specialists work with industries to ensure that we’re keeping people at work, productive and healthy.
Katherine: Yeah, and just before we end, I was reading a statistic, or, the government was saying that they’re pushing for a 12% of public servants working from home by 2020. Now, 2020 is not too far off. A lot of people working from home opens up another can of worms where the corporation can’t control their working environment. What do you think are some of the challenges that this might bring?
Brooke: I think it’s an important consideration for any business that is trying to promote a flexible environment to their employees. I certainly promote that for my own employees, but that can’t be, I suppose, implemented without thinking about the implications, both from a team morale point of view, but as you mentioned, from a risk management perspective. So, to ensure that people are working from home in a safe and productive manner, a system needs to be implemented within a workplace to ensure that each employee is competent in setting up their workstation at home, if it’s office duties that they’re performing, that they understand basicbiomechanics so that they’re not going to injure themselves, that they have good work practises in terms of taking regular breaks, getting up and exercising.
So, being able to have a system that sits behind an initiative like that is critical to ensure that people aren’t overworking themselves at home or promoting poor posture.
Katherine: Yeah. Thank you so much for your time today, Brooke.
Brooke: My pleasure, thank you.