Each year, the Australian Mines and Metals Association (AMMA) recognises a resource industry organisation that has implemented a leading health, safety and wellbeing initiative that has made a significant positive impact on its workplaces and employees.

In 2018, Gold Fields was honoured to win the AMMA Health and Wellbeing Award for its Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilisation (DNS) Early Intervention and Wellness Program.

Offered exclusively to Gold Fields Australia employees, the DNS program involves one-on-one sessions with a DNS exercise advisor.

During these sessions, the individual is encouraged to perform simple exercises which work to retrain and restore motor patterns at the level of the brain and central nervous system – the ‘software’ that drives our movement.

DNS empowers the individual to correct these issues independently, rather than form dependency on others for ongoing adjustments or treatment.

Following a successful DNS pilot program at the Agnew site in early 2017, the Gold Fields DNS program has since been offered to employees as a risk management and wellbeing initiative.

Over 90 of our employees have participated in this initiative since its formal commencement in October 2017. Analysis has identified a ~76 percent success rate for returning employees who were previously, completely unfit for work, now back to their pre-injury duties.

The DNS program has also significantly contributed to the 37.5 percent reduction in the number of workers compensation claims for the 17/18 financial year, in comparison to the previous three financial years.

Occupational Therapist, Suzanne Smith was asked to share her vision on the introduction of DNS to Gold Fields:

“I knew how powerful DNS was in helping people to recover from injuries and chronic musculoskeletal issues.

I had seen people not only recover from serious injuries but become stronger than ever before and free of the chronic niggles and problems they had accepted as part of their everyday life.

DNS is a technique unlike any other where the participant is in the driver’s seat of their own recovery. A technique which harnesses the brain’s innate ability to return to the original and perfect blueprint for movement which sees the right muscles being used for the right jobs – the ones for which they were uniquely designed rather than for functions they have adapted to and result in chronic wear and tear.

My vision for DNS was to empower people to heal themselves after injury and ultimately see this applied to uninjured employees to prevent them occurring in the first place; workers understanding their body, how it moves, and how to keep themselves safe.

My vision has always been to see musculoskeletal injuries in mining become a thing of the past.”

The DNS program has also empowered and enhanced the quality of life for our participating employees, with many willing to share their DNS experiences:

I feel stronger, healthier and fitter than I did pre-injury; not just my shoulder but my whole body. The only downside to my story is that I had to have an injury, possibly a career ending injury, to find the DNS programme that the Injury Management Team promotes. I believe that everyone can benefit from the DNS programme, even if you are not injured or in pain, as it would prevent injuries from occurring in the first place. The programme, and the support of the Injury Management Team, got me back into the job I enjoy doing and more importantly now, I can enjoy time with my wife and children in whatever sport, recreation or endeavours we chose to follow” – St Ives employee.

“Once I’m back at work and in Perth I will continue with DNS regardless, to prevent possible pain and re-injury and most of all to promote Gold Fields DNS to my work colleagues. It would be crucial to act and prevent before it becomes an injury” – Granny Smith employee.

“I deliberately concentrate on breathing correctly and I will stop and reset my posture and breathing at work to benefit myself. It has been a boon for my breathing technique and posture” – Agnew employee.

The AMMA Award marks a significant achievement in cutting-edge and pro-active health and wellness initiatives across the resources industry for the Injury Management Team.

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Underscored by a common goal of creating shared benefits to those associated with our efforts, it means our people, the ecosystems in which we operate, and the rapport we have with our local and indigenous communities, is of the highest respect.