Last year was certainly an eventful one for most of us. After battling the impacts of COVID-19 while still living our everyday lives, we’ve all done an amazing job to be where we are today. One person in particular who has showed that even the toughest of experiences can’t keep them down was our chemical mixologist Marty, who suffered a stroke on the job in 2021.
So many things in life are outside of our control, but here at Nuflow we knew we could at least control the support offered to Marty in his stroke recovery and transition back to work. Because of that, we’re happy to report that he’s back at work with the team. We’re very proud of our people and their commitment to supporting Marty. This support has been recognised by the Safe Work and Return to Work Awards who acknowledged Nuflow for Best Demonstrated Leadership in Return to Work.
The award recognises organisations and individuals who demonstrated outstanding rehabilitation and return to work practices. Decided by an executive panel, the winner was chosen based on rehabilitation and return to work leadership, commitment to continuous improvement and consultation, as well as commitment to sharing knowledge and experience. We are thrilled by this acknowledgement, and what this means for future workplace health and safety practices at Nuflow.
In May of 2021 Marty was riding in a company vehicle when Nuflow’s safety officer, Steve Murphy, noticed him having trouble with speech and movement. The team was able to act quickly and get Marty the help he needed. After a trip in the ambulance, he was placed in an induced coma and stayed in hospital for three months. From then began the long road to recovery.
Marty’s speech, ability to walk, and the functions of his right arm and leg were impacted by the stroke. This was a devastating impact on the life he had led up until this point. As a chemical mixologist who operated forklifts, these changes would prevent his return to usual work. He was looking at a brand new normal and Nuflow saw this as our time to step up, and help our man however we could.
Award recognises our commitment to our people
Nuflow’s response to Marty’s stroke is a result of how much we care about our people. Conveniently, it also aligns with the criteria of the Best Demonstrated Leadership in Return to Work Award.
The strong comradery at Nuflow has crafted a positive return to work culture, something that is required in expert rehabilitation and return to work leadership. Colleagues were visiting Marty in hospital, and as soon as he was able to attend the team threw a barbecue in his honour. Deciding we wanted him back as soon as possible, Nuflow devised a plan to make that happen. We showed an organisation-wide commitment to bringing our mate Marty back into the workplace and management was supportive of all the ideas pitched to help with the smooth transition.
The plans put in place to help with this transition demonstrate a commitment to continuous improvement and consultation. The first stage of the plan- finding Marty a new role better suited to his physical limitations. Operating the laminating machine was a great fit and we worked alongside his rehabilitation team to personalise his therapy.
As well as this, a new risk assessment and standard operating procedure was devised for the role and personalised to Marty’s needs. These actions demonstrate practical and innovative approaches to return to work procedures, and an overall commitment to employee health and safety.
This process of rehabilitation for Marty has been excellent for Nuflow in more ways than one. First of which is we got Marty back where he belongs. Secondly, it has increased morale company wide. Employees have tangible evidence that Nuflow cares and will do everything in their power to support its workers. We are committed to sharing this knowledge and experience, both internally and externally. Marty’s journey works as a blueprint for future Return to Work processes, and we want to share this knowledge across other workplaces and industries.
How business can support people returning to work after a stroke
Returning to work after a stroke will be a different journey for each individual, but everyone needs support and planning to ensure the transition will be as smooth as possible. It is key to understand that this is a brand new normal for the stroke survivor, and adjustment can be difficult. The best things any employer can do is adapt and be aware.
Coordination with the rehabilitation team can identify what exactly will need to change in the workplace. When treatment is personalised to suit the needs of the role, it can result in a quicker recovery. In Marty’s case, his medical team assessed his worksite alongside the safety officer. His speech-therapist identified and built familiarity with terms he would use every day on the job. Likewise, his occupational therapist simulated common movements he would do as part of his role.
Safety officer Steve advises those supporting employees returning to work to look at the big picture and adapt, adapt, adapt. To hear more from him check out the video above.
Something that can help with adapting the workplace is awareness around the prolonged effects survivors may suffer from. These are:
- Depression and anxiety
- Thinking and memory
- Muscle spasticity
- Overstimulation/Sensory Overload
The biggest thing is to listen to your employee and make sure they feel supported in their stroke recovery.
What does workplace health and safety mean to Nuflow?
Health and safety in the workplace are a massive priority to Nuflow. Our values don’t just apply to our customers, but to our workers as well, so we make sure we look after them with integrity, commitment, excellence, loyalty, support and compassion.
Strategic workplace health and safety practices can prevent incidents from happening, though some will always be unavoidable. When something does happen, like in the case of Marty, effective processes ensure the best-case scenario. Marty’s case was tackled with all the values Nuflow prides itself on and we are a better company for it. Employees know they can come to work and be supported and valued as human beings. To us, workplace health and safety means ongoing commitment to the well-being of our people, and that’s something we will never compromise on.