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. The original name for the company registered was EA Ergonomic Access. This subsequently was changed to David Caple & Associates Pty Ltd in 1984.
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 in a bedroom of their home in Ivanhoe East and soon moved to a serviced office at the old Alphington Dairy in 792 Heidelberg Road, Alphington, Victoria, Australia. Judy Bielicki was the proprietor of the secretarial service operating in this building.
The first Associate to join the team at that time was Don Briggs a graduate from Swinburne University, Mechanical Engineering. He was then followed by Kirsty Knox, an Occupational Therapist / Ergonomist, from Latrobe University.
Judy Greig then joined the group when Don Briggs left and the office then relocated to Bank House, 27 Railway Place, in Fairfield, Victoria, Australia This building had been the original State Bank of Victoria in the Fairfield shopping centre and the company refurbished it into three office areas.
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.
During the 1980s the majority of the work involved WHS and ergonomic consulting relating to musculo skeletal problems in a wide cross section of industry.
The major clients at this time included the ANZ Bank with the design and development of their new generation teller and 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’s and 1990’s 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 new industries including call centre operations. This area was also a major study area with Telstra. This included a retrospective review of the RSI incidents across Australia in collaboration with the union CPSU and the Telstra team.
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 Esso joint venture in Brunei and also for the Brunei military.
In 1991 the structure of David Caple & Associates Pty Ltd moved from the employment of full time WHS consultants to project based work with a wide range of Associates. Long term Associates with over 18 years experience with the company have been Rick Hodgson, Tony Payne and Mike Atherton. Rick has been involved in a wide range of consulting and training programs since 1991. Since the late 1990s Rick has been instrumental in developing and conducting a diverse range of WHS training programs for government departments and private companies across Australia. Tony has primarily been involved in consulting projects with his special expertise in mechanical engineering and ergonomic design. Mike has conducted a full program of office ergonomics and provides training and individual assessments.
Legal representation has been one area of constant activity provided by the company. This has been for both Plaintiff and Defendant lawyers in most states of Australia. This has also involved expert witness presentations to a range of legal bodies including the Industrial Relations Commission.
David has also provided expert witness testimony to the United States Congressional Hearings in Washington DC as part of the US Congress debate on the “Ergonomics Rule”. He has also participated in workshops in Brussels, Belgium as part of the European Union debate on legal Instruments for upper limb disorders.
In 1995 the company moved from Bank House in Fairfield, to Level 1, 271 Lower Heidelberg Road, East Ivanhoe. This suite of offices is above Nancy Caple’s retail shop, So Swish and was part of a property development own by the family trust. Prior to this relocation, Sharon Herbstreit commenced employment as a replacement for Carol Reynolds to provide administration support. Sharon has now completed 19 years of service to primarily assist David, but also to coordinate the variety of projects undertaken by the Associates. She also provides administration support to Nancy Caple as well as to the numerous community groups that are supported by David and Nancy.
A major feature of the work undertaken by the company over the last 25 years has been the continuity of working relationships with large private companies and government organisations. A number of these companies such as ICI / Orica, ANZ Bank, NAB Bank, and Telstra have been clients throughout this entire period.
A major feature of our work has been successful recipients of research and project grants through industry associations and their associated unions. The funding for these projects has generally been provided through public tendering processes to review emerging WHS and ergonomic issues across industry levels.
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 and fishing.
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. Our Associates Jacquie Wissenden, and Mike Atherton have undertaken many of these programs for major groups such as Esso and The Department of Sustainability and Environment.
The conduct of WH & S Management System audits has been undertaken across Australia for large organisations including the Department of Corrective Services and Attorney Generals Department in NSW as well as the Alfred Hospital Group and Monash Medical Centre in Victoria.
Ongoing work in auditing these systems has been a consistent area of work. Associates involved in this work have included Peter Rankin and Bryan Bottomley.
Organisation wide risk management reviews have also been a major area of work. One of the significant projects in this area was with the NSW Department of Corrective Services. This project involved an end to end review of risks and their management systems at the Goulburn Maximum Security Gaol as well as the Long Bay Gaol in NSW.
Since 2000-2014 our company has provided facilitation services for Governments and industry groups exploring a wide range of WHS issues faced in Australia. David has also assisted the Deputy Secretaries on the Victorian Government to develop strategies to address current WHS risks in the government sector.
During 2011, 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 & 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 strategy development program.
During 2012-2014 our company has also specialised in the 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.
In 2016, the company moved to a private office in East Ivanhoe.