From research to red tape - the challenges in implementing fit for duty programs amongst emergency management agencies
|Title||From research to red tape - the challenges in implementing fit for duty programs amongst emergency management agencies|
|Publication Type||Conference Paper|
|Year of Publication||2017|
|Authors||Savage, R, Silk, A, Walker, C, Larsen, B|
|Publisher||Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC|
Fit for duty programs are becoming increasingly prominent within the Australian and international emergency management sector. The physical fitness of workers in physically demanding roles is an important element within the broader occupational health and safety strategy. A growing body of evidence continues to mount on best-practice fit for duty practice. It is becoming increasingly apparent the value of robust methodologies and validation techniques to produce fit for duty tests which are legally defensible and specific to each organisation. However, despite increases in the knowledge of evidence-based strategies for fit for duty design and implementation, there remains a reluctance for organisations to utilise such knowledge. Here, we explore the reasons why such a reluctance exists and the current barriers to scientifically-backed fit for duty programs. Specifically, we explore the complications with the knowledge repositories, the effects of organisational structure, and the communication processes which currently exist between emergency management agencies and research bodies. Finally, we discuss the role of perceived organisational barriers, including: time, resources, capital, and obligations to meet ambiguous health and safety targets. With these issues explored, we expand on the role that individuals, departments and organisations can play in improving the utilization of fit for duty research. Concurrently, we critique the current limitations of research institutions and the dissemination of fit for duty knowledge. When all parties in the research continuum are properly aligned, organisations can implement fit for duty programs that will improve the health and safety of their workforce, assist with compliance obligations and boost workplace productivity.