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British Polythene Industries case study

Why introduce a scheme

British Polythene Industries (BPI) employ 3,500 staff across 40 sites in the UK. In the mid 90’s they started risk assessment and kinetic handling training in order to reduce musculoskeletal injury levels. However, it was soon felt that more needed to be done to help injured employees return to work as quickly as possible. An average of 26 working days were being lost for each MSD absence.

How the scheme worked

BPI engaged ‘Osteopaths for Industry’ who agreed to provide a ‘Musculoskeletal Injury Management System’ (MIMS). This gave the company access to a national network of 3000 osteopaths, chiropractors and physiotherapists. The arrangement also meant prompt treatment of injuries with every injured person being seen by a therapist within 24-48 hours.

After an initial assessment by a registered physical therapist, with the employees consent, a detailed report is sent to BPI giving details of the injury, the estimated number of treatments required and whether or not the employee is fit for normal duties, restricted duties or not fit. These reports aid BPI in assisting the injured person back to work. The scheme does not discriminate between injuries from work or leisure as any musculoskeletal problem could benefit from early attention or risk lengthy period of absence from work.

The costs and benefits of the scheme

In 2001 there were more than 400 treatment sessions arranged. Each referral had an average of three treatments which cost £16000 in total. However, the benefits of more than 75% of staff remaining in work whilst undergoing therapy, a substantial reduction in civil compensation claims and lower than anticipated increase in Employers Liability Compulsory Insurance premiums saved the company £192,000. This works out as a saving of £12 for every £1 spent on the return to work scheme. The success of this initiative has met with continued support from senior management and trade unions.

This initiative has enabled BPI to reduce the costs of musculoskeletal injuries sustained by their staff at work or at home and also raised the profile of health and safety issues in general, contributing to a more positive health and safety culture. Andy Collinson, Group Health & Safety Manager says;
“This rehabilitation scheme created the solutions we needed in terms of health and safety and occupational health. It was popular with the workforce and their representatives and it made excellent business sense.”

Updated 2012-12-28