2014 winners

Best workplace health and safety management system (private sector)

K&D Plumbing/K&D Civil

‘Pipeline’, the aptly-named management system for plumbing and civil infrastructure services provider K&D, has not only created a strong focus on workplace safety but has revolutionised the way they handle every facet of their business.

Pipeline uses the latest technology to make the system available to all workers via smartphones and tablets; ideal for a mobile workforce that spends much of its time away from headquarters. In an instant, workers can access safety training, risk management tools, safety alerts, legislation, plant and equipment safety records and return to work resources.

With only one lost time injury in the last five years, K&D have gone above and beyond what is expected of a business of their size and have built a safety framework that can grow and evolve with them.

Best workplace health and safety management system (public sector)

Hornsby Shire Council

While a work health and safety management system can appear effective on paper, closer scrutiny can yield surprising results, as Hornsby Shire Council discovered.

With around 600 employees in workplaces ranging from construction sites to libraries, Hornsby Shire Council had doubts that their safety system was being embraced at the organisation’s ‘coal face’. The result was an 18-month audit program aimed at measuring the uptake of the system in each and every one of their 120 teams.

By undertaking one-on-one engagement with their workers the Council identified a significant number of gaps, including 746 areas of non-compliance. The Council promptly implemented major improvements as part of a ‘renovated’ safety system; 87 per cent of these issues had been closed out by mid-2014.

Best solution to an identified workplace health and safety issue

Patrick Autocare

Through a combination of road and rail, Patrick Autocare provides motor vehicle processing, storage and distribution to manufacturers, dealerships and the general public. For workers this means a lot of loading, securing and unloading of vehicles.

As expected, manual handling on this scale can take a toll on a worker’s body. In fact, 86 per cent of all Patrick Autocare’s workers compensation claims resulted from worker body stress, often due to manually levering straps to keep vehicles in place.

Manual hand-operated pull levers are soon to be a thing of the past, however, with the introduction of Patrick Autocare’s automated tie down straps. With the push of a button workers can safely and effortlessly secure the vehicle, while a motorised winch does all of the heavy lifting.

Best workplace health and safety practices in a small business

Wicked Berries Pty Ltd

Wicked Berries is a small company with big ambitions. So when developing a work health and safety system, they needed to think ahead to develop procedures that could support a growing business for the long term.

The Coffs Harbour based business specialises in gift-boxed chocolate-dipped strawberries, which are packed and distributed Australia-wide. With only four staff members they are the true definition of a micro business, but even the smallest workplace can have its fair share of safety risks.

A number of simple yet effective solutions have been implemented, ranging from machinery safeguards and visible safety procedures, to storage boxes that are colour-coded by weight. Future franchises will also be audited every 12 months to ensure compliance with safety procedures.

By initiating good safety practices at the ground level Wicked Berries’ future is sound, with a safety culture embedded in the workplace from the very beginning.

Best individual contribution to workplace health and safety (employee)

James Wensley (OneSteel)

Given that he’s responsible for the operation of a 135 tonne crane, it’s surprising to learn that James ‘Jim’ Wensley lacked the confidence to pursue his ambitions of making a difference to safety in the steelworks industry. It wasn’t until undertaking a Certificate IV in training and assessment that he was provided with the tools and knowledge - as well as the confidence - to make some changes.

Jim’s passion for safety has since gone above and beyond the expectations of his role to help improve OneSteel’s practices, systems and processes. As well as personally undertaking all internal competency assessments of crane driving, rigging and dogging at the Sydney Steel Mill, Jim also runs regular safety meetings and mentors his colleagues to observe and identify potential hazards.

As a result, the number of reported hazards has steadily increased. Jim is leading the way in a cultural shift that has meant improvements in injury rates, competency standards and process reviews.

Best individual contribution to workplace health and safety (WHS manager or representative)

Luke Sullivan (Staging Connections)

With a young and highly mobile workforce, the events industry has been facing somewhat of a safety crisis in recent years. Staging Connections, an audio-visual company with over 750 employees across Australia, was not immune to this.

Enter Luke Sullivan, who upon commencing at Staging Connections was faced with the challenge of keeping a workforce that spent much of its time on the road and on-site, safe.

The result is Stagesafe; the first risk management system designed specifically for the events industry. In addition to a robust system, key to Stagesafe is a mobile app, allowing workers on-site to access the system any time and any place.

In just two years the lost time injury rate at Staging Connections was more than halved. This improvement was too significant for Staging Connections to keep the product to themselves, and they have since made the app available to the rest of the industry.

Excellence in return to work for business

Baxter Healthcare

As a global medical products and services company, Baxter Healthcare takes the same innovative and passionate approach to improving patients’ lives as it does to providing positive return to work (RTW) outcomes for its own staff.

On-site safety specialists are trained in understanding the mechanisms of injury, the typical effects on the body and psyche, the treatment required and the drivers of positive recovery outcomes. The result is a proactive and empathetic approach to injury management, allowing timely and long-lasting RTW solutions.

There are also a number of personal touches, such as an individual wellness system where staff can log in to a personal profile and track their status.

Through early reporting and prompt supportive intervention, Baxter’s injury outcomes have markedly improved, reflected in their workers compensation experience rate currently at half of the industry average.

Return to work achievement award for workers

Sgt Mathew Johnson (NSW Police Force)

After suffering a back injury as weapons trainer at Goulburn Academy, Sgt Mathew Johnson went on to re-injure it even further during a violent arrest. This run of bad luck culminated in a third injury, forcing Mathew to take a lengthy period off work.

After some dark periods, including the moment he reported being unable to use his legs, Mathew decided that the person most responsible for his recovery was him.

By maintaining strong relationships with medical specialists, his case manager, supervisors and colleagues, Mathew has been proactive in his involvement in the rehabilitation process, undertaking the physical and psychological treatment with enthusiasm and passion.

Mathew is now the Richmond local area command education development officer. Although his recovery process is still ongoing, he recently had his medical status upgraded, allowing him to assist with operational shifts in the field as general duties supervising sergeant.

WorkCover NSW Safety Leadership Award

Hunter-New England Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service

In many workplaces a near miss is met with a sigh of relief. In the case of Hunter-New England Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service (WRHS), however, there isn’t always a second chance.

Operating four aircraft from two bases, WRHS provides a 24 hour aeromedical search and rescue service to communities over an area of 132,000 km2. In such a high-risk workplace, quality workplace safety systems can literally mean the difference between life and death.

The safety initiatives developed by WRHS are too many to list, but each is designed to keep the pilots, crew and medical staff safe. As well as reductions in injuries and serious incidents, hazard reporting in the last eight years has increased by an outstanding 673 per cent.

WRHS is also keen to share their experience by presenting their systems to other organisations and partnering with WorkCover to spread the safety message.

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