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Health and wellbeing program case study: IP Australia

Many organisations are becoming more and more aware of the stress sedentary and repetitive work can place on the body. In 2004, Australia’s intellectual property rights group, IP Australia, realised it needed to adopt a holistic approach to reduce workers’ vulnerability to injuries and stress, after a staff survey recorded high ratings for cholesterol and body mass index.

The agency carried out the health check after it recognised several factors were affecting the health and wellbeing of its workforce. Historically, the company had a high rate of musculoskeletal and body stressing/overuse injuries due to the largely sedentary and repetitive nature of its work.

Following the survey, the agency knew it had to take action, and designed a program called ‘Health and Wellbeing—the choice is yours’.

The program educates and empowers workers to address musculoskeletal injuries as part of their overall physical, psychological and financial wellbeing, and work/life balance.

In addition to fitness activities, IP also included mental health awareness and crisis training, personal resilience training, a lunch-time chess tournament and financial wellbeing seminars.

IP Australia has continually monitored staff satisfaction and expectations of the program, and modified it accordingly. For example, following feedback, it offered separate classes for workers ‘new to fitness’ in addition to advanced circuit training, pilates and yoga classes.

Since the program started, workers have become increasingly conscious of the importance of healthy lifestyle choices and addressing physical and psychological wellbeing. This is illustrated in the results achieved between 2005 and 2009:

  • a steady increase in worker participation in the program—from 37.5 to 65.7 per cent
  • a decrease in the number of workers presenting with high blood pressure
  • a 12.8 per cent reduction in unscheduled leave for program participants
  • a 75 per cent reduction in overall workers’ compensation claims.

Overall, incident reports decreased from 83 in 2005/06 to 51 during 2008/09. However, reports for ‘body stressing’ over these years actually increased. As a result, IP Australia is targeting health initiatives to address ongoing risks of body stressing for workers. Specifically, it is targeting posture, repetitive movements, healthy weight management and nutrition.

Page last updated: 20 Mar 2014