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Helping hand in hurtful situations

By Josh Jennings

An on-the-scene OHS officer soothes the pain of workplace injury, writes Josh Jennings.

Occupational health and safety and human resources co-ordinator Alex Linossi went to hospital the day before our interview to help a worker who had a badly injured hand from a nail gun.

It was Linossi's job to help ensure the hospital was looking after the worker, and to aid the family with the paperwork.

"That's probably been one of our most serious types of injuries," says Linossi, who is employed by OzStaff Career Services.

The company provides businesses with workplace safety assistance through its OHS response vans, which work around the clock carrying first-aid and safety equipment and first-aid staff. Linossi attends non-life-threatening incidents.

There's no real knowing how any workday might pan out, he says: also the previous day, he wrote a return-to-work plan for an injured worker; liaised with the worker and employer about how to follow the plan; met clients to discuss industrial relations matters; responded to injured workers; and provided clients with reports on the time they'd lost from injuries.

"I have my day sort of planned, but if something happens everything just gets dropped and that candidate is attended to," Linossi says, adding that dealing with injured workers is often as much about supporting them through the emotional implications of their injury as well as the physical.

He recalls meeting with a worker who had hurt his back lifting goods in a warehouse. Linossi says the worker became angry that the injury was disrupting his ability to get on with his job. The onus was on Linossi to dissuade the employee from entertaining any idea of returning to work prematurely.

"I had to talk with his wife, too, and eventually he calmed down and started to understand," he says. "After his first round of physio, he came to terms with what was happening."

Linossi joined OzStaff a little less than five years ago. He applied for the job after his previous employer, a transport company for which he was a human relations manager, made him redundant as part of a restructure of the organisation.

He attributes his career progression predominantly to on-the-job training, rather than formal qualifications, but says combining both is a good career move for people just starting out.

"I always envy people who've gone to university or done some of the major certificates related to OHS. I'm dealing with these highly educated people all day and I firmly believe you [should] do the schooling - but you must also have the experience to back it up." As OzStaff expands, Linossi says he foresees he'll become less hands-on with the day-to-day, nitty-gritty work.

"I'd be more of an organiser and delegator, but I'd still be jumping in to do whatever is required when there's an emergency situation.

"But I foresee myself becoming more of an overseer in the next two to three years."

Published: 03 November 2012

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