Body stressing awareness program: a new way of addressing an old problem

By Dave Rossiter

Employers and workplace industries have been tackling manual handling and ergonomic assessments over many years to improve their workplaces and reduce work related incidents and injuries.   In many cases, workplaces obtain information from physiotherapists and occupational therapists on how their workers are best suited to undertake their work.  This information can be very useful, but I have seen numerous cases working within heavy/construction industries where the information was, at best, ‘impractical’ and at worst, downright dangerous.   In many of those cases,  the valuable input from the workers themselves on how they overcame manual handling and ergonomic challenges were often overlooked.  This also bypassed the requirement under Section 35 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (2004) for employers to consult with employees regarding matters of assessing hazards and risks, and making decisions about measures to be taken to control risks to health and safety.  

The Body Stressing Awareness Program was developed by Dave Rossiter and was previously implemented with the OHS team on the Westgate Bridge Strengthening Project (John Holland). This program encompasses the Victorian Compliance Code: Hazardous Manual Handling and takes the process down to the workplace team level.  The program identifies 16 body stressing activities that could increase the risk of injury during the routine daily workflow. These body stressing risks are then reviewed using the Body Stressing Awareness Tool to encourage discussions amongst the workers and supervisors/managers to identify adequate and suitable control measures.  As part of the process, Safe Work Method Statements are also reviewed to ensure that they identify all steps undertaken within the given task, and all risks and hazards are clearly identified, and control measures are put in place.  By involving the work group in the development of the control measures (based on the Compliance Code and Review and revision of risk control measures), compliance with those control measures was noted to increase dramatically, as it was the common goal driven by the team. 

If your workplace could utilise the Body Stressing Awareness Program to help 

  • Educate supervisors/managers on identifying and controlling manual handling risks, 
  • Increase communication between workers and their supervisors, 
  • Reduce workplace incidents and/our injuries, or 
  • To help update your Safe Work Method Statements,

Give Enhance Physiotherapy a call and Dave can meet with you to discuss options for rolling out the Body Stressing Awareness Program.  (02) 6041 3609.



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