Manufacturing labour hire case study

This case study examines measures that can be taken by agencies and hosts to manage workplace stress.

Date last updated

Saturday 29 Aug 2020

Industries and topics
  • Manufacturing
  • Health and safety representatives
  • Labour hire
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Background

A manufacturer of locally produced food products employs casuals for production line tasks to support its 24-hour operation during peak periods.

A labour hire agency provides the casual employees to the manufacturer and inducts them into the workplace and their specific roles.

Issue

The agency received a report that a casual employee on the night shift was aggressive towards other workers on the production line.

Next steps

The Safety Manager at the host workplace held a meeting with the employee and determined that:

  • the employee was verbally aggressive towards his co-workers
    • the employee believed his previous work experience entitled him to tell co-workers how to do their jobs
      • the employee was formerly a manager of a large manufacturer that went into liquidation
        • the employee did not receive any benefits or entitlements from their previous employer, and
          • the employee is desperate to work as many shifts as possible.

            The Safety Manager concluded the employee could be under financial stress after being made redundant from their previous role and contacted the agency for advice.

            After an investigation was conducted in collaboration with the host, the agency decided to remove the employee from the host and reassign them to another host where their role would be working alone. The agency invited the employee to a meeting to discuss the reported behaviour and explore the alternative placement, however, the employee didn't show up and ceased contact with the agency.

            Outcome

            Following a review of the incident with the Safety Manager, the agency surveyed its casual employees to identify causes of stress. The agency found that a large proportion of the casual employees were experiencing stress in relation to job hunting, employment status, and the lack of consistency in work assignments. Based on these results, the agency set up an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) which all employees could access, rather than just permanent employees.

            Agency improvements

            • Assist the casual employees to establish a Designated Work Group (DWG) so that a Health and Safety Representative (HSR) can be elected to raise health and safety issues on behalf of employees.
              • Implement an online incident reporting system for employees to report incidents, near misses, and concerns relating to health and safety.
                • Provide information and training on financial management and offer support services as part of on-boarding new employees.
                  • Set up an EAP for all employees and advise employees of the program once established.

                    Host improvements

                    • Introduce all labour hire employees to the relevant directly-employed HSR (if they form part of the DWG) and also the person responsible for OHS at the company.
                      • Advise labour hire employees on how to report hazards or incidents relating to health and safety.
                        • Consult with the agency and all involved employees when carrying out an incident investigation.
                          • Train peer support officers to provide support to all employees during and after times of professional and personal distress.