Member for Bega Andrew Constance has congratulated Bega Cheese for its commitment to safety after the dairy icon was announced a winner at the 2012 WorkCover NSW Safe Work Awards held in Sydney last night.

Mr Constance said Bega Cheese was among 40 finalists across five categories and took out first place in the Best workplace health and management system category for implementing an initiative to improve the safety culture among its workers.

“The rapid expansion of the Australian dairy icon five years ago created a challenge for management to ensure the company“s workplace safety systems kept pace with its growth,” Mr Constance said.

“To enhance safety across the business, in 2008 Bega Cheese set in motion a „safety first“ culture to improve the health and wellbeing of its workers,” he said.

Bega’s General Manager of Human Resources, David McKinnon, said major revisions to their existing workplace safety systems included the introduction of automation for high risk manual handling tasks and a behavioural safety program.

“The introduction of the Bega Cheese Safety System database improved injury reporting allowing risks to be addressed faster,” Mr McKinnon said.

“During 2010-11 claims were reduced by more than 40 per cent and time-lost hours reduced by almost 4000 on the previous period,” he said.

“Our organisation is undertaking a cultural shift, which consciously places the safety and wellbeing of our workers at the forefront of business and production decisions.”

Bega Cheese is now looking to develop a Fit for Work policy to address fatigue and drug and alcohol risks in the workplace.

Mr Constance said Bega Cheese collected one of six awards presented at a ceremony held in Sydney last night as part of Safe Work Australia Week to recognise initiatives that have made tangible contributions to reducing injuries.

“The awards highlight that sustainable safety outcomes can be achieved, and can have far reaching effects on the financial viability of a business,” Mr Constance said.

“Common themes among all of the winners were strong workplace consultation that resulted in measurable improvements in morale and safety culture,” he said.

Finalists included small and large businesses from a range of industries across the public and private sectors, acknowledged for their outstanding achievements in workplace safety.

Bega Cheese along with the other winners will now compete with entrants from across the country in the 2013 National Safe Work Australia Awards to be held in Canberra in April.

You can read the PDF version of this media release.

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