Staff at Wicked Berries create dream treats in a model workplace, thanks to the diligence of their not-so-wicked employer.

A focus on worker safety and getting back to basics has helped Wicked take out Best Workplace Health and Safety Practices in a Small Business at the 2014 WorkCover SafeWork Awards.

Wicked Berries specialise in indulgent chocolate dipped strawberries and deliver their products Australia wide.

Packing and handling forms a big part of the work involved, which comes with its own safety risks, but Wicked’s Director, Mr Kerry O’Sullivan, a former baker well-aware of workplace safety, is set on making sure his facilities are safe.

“I guess because it’s not something a lot of businesses tend to focus on; because we’re doing franchising I just made it a habit of ticking all the boxes on that side of things,” Kerry said.

While the micro business employs just five staff, developing a work health and safety system was a key strategy to support the growing business in the long term.

The company is currently branching out as a franchise and they know work health and safety is a crucial factor to attract staff and ensure productivity.

“Imagine having 40 or 50 franchises and then having to implement it all later,” said Kerry.

“If it’s happening right from the start it forms part of the procedure for everyone.

“If everyone’s safe at work it means better productivity and a better workplace. That’s proven. It covers so many different aspects of a business.”

To win the award, Wicked Berries had to show what risks were identified, how they were addressed and what the outcomes were.

Kerry listed hazardous manual tasks such as the storage and handling of stock boxes, movement of stock and high shelving as challenges they overcame through better practice.

Their innovative safety improvements and adjustments have helped to secure longevity for their enviable zero ‘injuries resulting in time off’ record.

Some of the changes they implemented were machinery safeguards, anti-fatigue mats and visible safety procedures, but by far the most useful and easy were storage boxes that are colour-coded by weight.

“Colour coding boxes was the most dramatic change. The colour coding definitely works It’s so simple,” said Kerry.

“Going up ladders for stock posed a problem.

“Now that heavier items are shelved lower down, workers only have to lift light stock from the top and they’re happy about that.”

Wicked Berries also instituted procedures like staff induction and risk control training and franchisee training and information, making sure work health and safety is deeply embedded in the culture of the business.

Kerry believes the key to his winning workplace is walking the walk and says the award gives them credibility as a workplace with integrity that cares about the welfare of its staff.

“Having everything in place is one thing, enforcing it is another,” Kerry said.

“Get the basics right first.

“Assess your business independently, judge it on its own merits and find out what needs to be addressed.

“Your employee is number one so find out the risks and tackle that.”

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