David Caple & Associates Pty Ltd was established at the end of 1983 when David Caple completed his work with ICI limited as the Corporate Ergonomist in Australia.
With his wife, Nancy as a fellow director, they established the consulting company specialising in ergonomics at a time when repetitive strain injury (RSI) was a major OHS issue across the Australian workforce.
The initial office was at the old Alphington Dairy in 792 Heidelberg Road, Alphington in 1984 and then moved to Bank House in Railway Parade Fairfield in 1986.
The first Associate to join the team was Don Briggs a graduate from Swinburne University, Mechanical Engineering. He was then followed by Kirsty Knox, an Occupational Therapist / Ergonomist, and Judy Greig, an Ergonomist also from Latrobe University.
In 1986 the move to Fairfield was undertaken and the first full time secretarial support was provided by Carol Reynolds. Carol stayed with the group for nearly 10 years. In 1996 the offices moved the 1/273 Lower Heidelberg Road, Ivanhoe East where it operated until 2016.
The major clients at this time included the ANZ Bank with the design and development of their new generation retail branch design project; the evaluation of heavy engineering work for BHP in the Pilbarra Iron Ore Mining, West Australia as well as the steel manufacturing plants in Port Kembla, NSW and Whyalla, South Australia.
During the 1980& and 1990s large projects were funded by the Australian Government to look at emerging WHS issues such as finding innovative ways for Government to communicate with small and medium sized enterprises (SME). Projects also included ergonomics issues in call centre operations with Telstra. This included a retrospective review of the RSI incidents across Australia in collaboration with the union CPSU.
During the 1980s David was quite involved in the litigation cases involving musculo skeletal injuries. He was the principal advisor to the Australian Government in the first Supreme Court case involving RSI and the Australian Taxation Office.
Our company was the sole importing agent during this time for anthropometric tools from IWA in Germany. This involved 1:10 manikins and drawing templates.
We also imported the Hackman Knives from Sweden through our Associate Peter Friedrich. These had been ergonomically designed as part of the Aids for Living range of products. These were subsequently retailed through Nancy Caple’s shop, So Swish in Ivanhoe East.
In the early 1990s David was approached by LTS Trading in Brunei to assist with the establishment of an offshore Helicopter Underwater Escape Trainer (HUET).
This involved establishing contacts within the Petrochemical industry in Scotland and Canada with subsequently travelling to Nova Scotia and arranging the delivery of a training system from Survival Systems Pty Ltd in Halifax. The trainers were then appointed from the National Safety Council of Australia (NSCA) from their operations in Darwin. Trainers were then sent to Brunei on a project basis to conduct HUET training for the Shell joint venture in Brunei and also for the Brunei military.
In 1991 the company moved from employing full time WHS consultants to project based work with a wide range of Associates. Long term Associates with over 25 years’ experience with the company have been Rick Hodgson, Tony Payne and Mike Atherton.
Sharon Herbstreit commenced employment as a replacement for Carol Reynolds to provide administration support . Sharon has now completed 23 years of service to primarily assist David, but also to coordinate the variety of projects undertaken by the Associates. She also provides support to Nancy Caple’s business, So Swish, as well as to the numerous community groups that are supported by David and Nancy.
First Major Project
The first major project of this style was in the 1990s for the Meat Processing Industry across Australia. This was funded by the Meat Research Corporation and involved projects in abattoirs for beef, mutton and pork.
Subsequently, there have been a range of other industry based projects undertaken including the automotive manufacturing Ford, General Motors, Toyota, Mitsubishi and Nissan. There have also been projects in fresh food manufacturing, live entertainment, commercial painting, public housing, mining, fishing, universities, prisons, courts, youth justice, police and paramedics.
An ongoing part of the company service has been to conduct training and assessments relating to office ergonomics. These have been provided through many government and private companies across Victoria. Since 2010 we have provided the Certified Professional Ergonomics services to over 20 major office development projects across Australia which were implementing Activity Based Work.
The conduct of WHS Management System audits has been undertaken across Australia for large organisations including government departments, hospitals, retails companies and local governments.
Ongoing work in auditing these systems has been a consistent area of work. Associates involved in this work have included Peter Rankin, Bryan Bottomley. Other Associates with extensive project work included Fiona Begg, Peter Cotton, Peter Rankin and Drew Dawson.
Organisation wide WHS risk management reviews have also been a major area of work. Significant projects in this area was with the NSW Department of Corrective Services, Magistrates Court of Victoria, Youth Justice, ACT Department of Education.
Since 2000-2019 our company has provided facilitation services for state and Australian Governments and industry groups exploring a wide range of WHS issues faced in Australia.
David Caple and Rick Hodgson worked with Safe Work Australia to facilitate consultation workshops across Australia. This resulted in the development of the Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy (2012-2022). David has also been involved in conducting one on one interviews with CEOs of 18 top tier private enterprises in Singapore for the Singapore Government. This was part of their WHS strategy development program.
Our company has also specialised in studies on organisational culture. In particular, we have been working with Boards of Directors, CEOs, and senior executives to understand the major opportunities to integrate health and safety into an organisational culture.
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