The safety and wellbeing of our people remains our highest priority and we continue to invest in our processes and capability to create a safe working environment for our workforce.
Our strategy for both physical and psychological safety and injury management that will carry us through to 2025, has been designed to deliver a positive shift in our safety performance and improve return-to-work outcomes. The strategy was externally reviewed by industry experts before being approved by the Board in February 2021.
Under this strategy our safety, wellbeing and injury management programs are aligned with four strategic pillars:
- Leaders who are safety role models, with an embedded safety culture across the organisation
- Critical risk management based on exposure awareness, critical controls and elimination
- Best-in-class tailored psychological safety and wellbeing programs
- Prevent injuries and improve return-to-work outcomes.
Protecting our teams through COVID-19
In 2020/21, we continued to respond rapidly to the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated impacts for our people and the community.
Since the pandemic began in March 2020 our response has been dynamic and coordinated and has seen the implementation of zoning, staggered shifts and temperature testing in our major facilities, protective screens and social distancing markers in our Post Offices and the move to working from home for our contact centre and corporate staff. During Victoria’s Stage 4 lockdown we established a dedicated contact tracing team and rapidly deployed specialised infectious disease control software that enable effective risk management and record keeping.
These safety protocols have proven to be extremely effective and we recorded just one workplace transmission event. This occurred early in Victoria’s second wave and thanks to the hard work of our safety team, was completely contained within 48 hours.
Given the evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, we continued to work closely with the relevant governments and health departments and adapt our processes and systems in line with their advice.
Mental health and psychological safety
The mental health and wellbeing of our people remains an important focus. Our psychological safety and wellbeing approach is centred around identifying and mitigating psychosocial exposures; raising awareness and combatting stigma; building leader capability to support psychological wellbeing and positively influencing psychological safety and wellbeing in the community.
With such a diverse and geographically dispersed workforce, we worked to align our enterprise strategy with a tailored risk-based approach for each business area. To support this, we created working groups in each of our business units that focused on psychosocial risk identification and mitigation strategies.
As part of our commitment to continuing to strive to positively influence psychological safety and wellbeing in the community, Australia Post became a foundation member of Healthy Heads in Trucks and Sheds and we hold seats on both the Board of Directors and the Advisory Board.
Supporting our workforce
We are proud to offer independent, free and confidential counselling and coaching via our Employee and Workforce Assistance Program (EAP and WAP) to all our people including our contractors, Licensees, sub-contractors and their families.
The events of the last year have presented challenges for our people both at work and at home, and we saw a need for on-the-ground EAP services to be arranged at our sites across Australia, primarily in deliveries through the roll out of the Alternating Delivery Model, and for our customer contact centres. A total of 252 proactive visits were conducted, bringing support directly to our workforce and encouraging help-seeking behaviours.
Our annualised EAP uptake sits at 6.8 per cent, above the industry benchmark of 5.3 per cent and we continue to raise awareness for the availability of these support programs and combat the stigma around reaching out for support.
During 2020/21, we recorded 3,689 Total Recordable Injuries (TRIs) and our Total Recordable Injuries Frequency Rate (TRIFR) was 61.8, up slightly on last year’s performance. The increase is indicative of the year-on-year growth in parcel volumes, with more delivery activities than in any previous year. In 2020/21 we had an eight per cent increase in our injuries whilst absorbing a 28 per cent increase in parcel volumes and managing multiple COVID-related controls, including temporary reductions in workforce numbers. As COVID-19 continues to present challenges, we are committed to support the safety and wellbeing of our people and have plans in place to enhance our processes, capabilities and governance over safety risks.
Fatality rate (per million kilometres)
Critical risk management
Temporary regulatory relief enabled us to accelerate our motorcycle reduction program, resulting in a 45 per cent decrease in motorcycle accident related serious claims (five days or more off work) and a 16 per cent reduction in vehicle accident related injuries overall. This has been further supported by the introduction of additional electric delivery vehicles (eDVs) into our network. Pleasingly, we have not seen a proportionate increase in eDV incidents as this mode of transport has increased.
Seventy six per cent of all injuries are sustained by our delivery workers, with motorcycle incidents accounting for a significant number of these. As part of our critical risk management strategy, we have continued our commitment to reducing the number of motorcycles in our delivery fleet.
The implementation of cutting edge technology focusing on forklift exclusion zones and the separation of pedestrians and forklifts has resulted in an 85 per cent reduction in exposures in ten of our major facilities during the pilot.
Addressing the risk of manual handling
Automation in our facilities remains our most effective measure for reducing the safety risks associated with manual handling and increasing parcel volumes. Our investments this financial year have contributed to an annual reduction of 93 million manual handling touchpoints.
Though the significant increase in parcel volumes drove an increase in claim numbers year on year, our investment in automation enabled us to reduce our overall accepted and serious claims per million parcels since July 2019.
We are also addressing the hazards of manual handling through a range of controls and programs including pre-employment functional assessments, safe design considerations when planning new facilities or major automation projects, as well as individual and task-based risk assessments and controls.
Developing a safety leadership and culture
Our safety culture program was launched in early 2021 following several qualitative safety culture assessments. The program is made up of two components: our Site-Specific Program and the CORE program.
The Site-Specific Program provides intensive support at select facilities and aids with the development and implementation of site-specific safety cultural improvement plans, enhances understanding of risk, improves decision making, promotes safety leadership through visibility and capability and increases accountability for safety across every level of the facility.
Our CORE Program builds on the foundations we established during Safety Time in 2020. A series of topics have been selected in line with our Safety Culture Compass and will be implemented across the organisation over a 12-month period, using existing meeting structures or toolbox talks.
Dog Safety Week
Dog related incidents continue to be of a significant concern. Last financial year, at least three Posties, drivers or delivery contractors were attacked by dogs per week while delivering letters and parcels in their communities, and this trend continued this year.
While we continue to equip our people with the training to help them be safer around dogs, this important safety issue cannot be addressed without community support.
In June we launched our Dog Safety Week campaign, and postcards were distributed to letterboxes across the country, to help people understand and consider the risks dogs pose to our people, and the steps they can take to help keep them out of harm’s way.