Emergency services personnel, a hospital and a tree company are among the 27 finalists for the 2018 WorkSafe Awards.
The prestigious awards recognise the outstanding contributions individuals and organisations have made to improve workplace health and safety and help injured workers return to work.
They also celebrate the dedication of injured workers who have overcome significant challenges to return to the workforce.
More than 170 entries from a variety of industries nominated for the awards.
WorkSafe Chief Executive Clare Amies said each finalist deserved recognition for their hard work and dedication to improving health and safety outcomes for workers and, in the case of injured workers themselves, their courage and perseverance to overcome obstacles and return to work.
“These determined businesses and individuals have in common a passionate approach to preventing workplaces injuries and illnesses and doing what they can to help others – or themselves – return to safe work after injury,” Ms Amies said.
“Our finalists have set a strong example for the community when it comes to workplace health and safety, and they deserve to be recognised.
“It is satisfying to see such a wide variety of industries represented and all the finalists should be commended for their commitment.”
Winners will be announced at a gala dinner at Crown Palladium on Thursday, 18 October.
The finalists are:
Leading return to work practice by an employer
Metcash (Laverton North)
Metcash has a ‘zero harm’ goal and takes a collaborative approach to injury management, where employees are treated as ‘industrial athletes’. The company has adopted a proactive injury management approach that sees employees provided with education and tools, including safety talks and manual handling technique reviews, to manage and prevent injuries. Metcash’s early intervention program enables injured employees to receive immediate medical attention and on-site rehabilitation to expedite recovery.
Mercy Health (Richmond)
In April 2017, Mercy Health launched a national early intervention and immediate response program to promote recovery at work and train managers to effectively support injured employees at the organisation’s hospital, aged and community care facilities. With service provider Cogent Thinking, Mercy Health implemented a suite of initiatives to familiarise team members with workers compensation legislation and encourage prompt intervention by line managers for hazards and injuries.
Metropolitan Fire Brigade (Richmond)
Victoria’s MFB Health and Safety Team takes immense pride in their role of supporting operational firefighters. This includes providing employees with access to confidential counselling, health and fitness assessments and training, nutritional advice and preventative physiotherapy treatment. The Injury Management Adviser and Health and Fitness Team provide early intervention for employees experiencing muscular strains and sprains to stop niggles from becoming injuries.
Return to work coordinator excellence
Rachel Hope, MFB (Richmond)
Rachel Hope is proactive, compassionate and dedicated to achieving industry best practice for her employer and colleagues who face challenging situations as frontline firefighters. Rachel is determined to stamp out any stigma associated with receiving compensation or seeking help for mental health concerns. Rachel runs regular education sessions about topical health and safety issues and introduced dashboard reporting about claims trends to operational commanders.
Gillian Plummer, MFB (Oakleigh)
Return to Work Coordinator Gillian Plummer is passionate about helping people back to health, and employment. Gillian has a natural ability to build rapport and respect with injured employees. Her holistic approach considers all aspects of the employee’s life and work that have been impacted by their injury or illness. She also maintains regular contact and communication with all levels of the organisation and key stakeholders.
Nicole Shambrook, Ambulance Victoria (North Blackburn)
Nicole endeavours to meet each injured worker face-to-face, even though she covers a large geographical area. She simultaneously makes contact with team managers to discuss claims and proposed return to work plans. Being transparent about expectations and goals, and showing interest in injured employees’ lives outside of the workplace has helped Nicole build strong rapport and results.
Stacey Guy, City of Ballarat
In the last seven years, Stacey Guy has helped more than 100 injured workers achieve a safe and sustainable return to work. Stacey focuses on timely intervention, and instigated the engagement of a provider panel to provide injured employees with medical assessments and early treatment for niggles or injuries. She introduced the council’s My Wellbeing program and has increased return to work and manual handling training.
Worker return to work achievement award
Clinton Robins (Miners Rest)
Clinton suffered post-traumatic stress disorder as the result of a workplace fire in 1994. Clinton was still off work in 2009 when he was involved in a motorcycle crash, resulting in the loss of use of his right arm. Around this time, Clinton, a keen horse rider, decided to start his return to work journey. Clinton returned to horse-riding and succeeded in dressage and show jumping competitions. He also volunteered with Horsham’s Riding for the Disabled Association. In 2016 Clinton secured his ‘dream job’ as a stable hand with Darren Weir Racing.
Alfred Stinten (Morwell)
‘Alf’ was an operator at the Maryvale Mill in the Latrobe Valley when he suffered knee injuries due to repetitive climbing in and out of the loader. After two total knee replacement surgeries, Alf was eager to begin a gradual, phased return to work program that involved workplace modifications and learning a new job in a different area of the business. Aided by the support and encouragement of management, rehabilitation providers and colleagues, Alf is now enjoying good health, mobility and his new role as a packing assistant in the mill’s finishing room.
Joseph Vella (Kensington)
Joe sustained an arm and shoulder injury, which required surgical repair and rehabilitation, while working as a labourer. With encouragement of his employer, Joe started his return to work process and sought help from the HR department and OHS Officer. He has now completed a Health Safety and Environment Masterclass and a Certificate IV in Work, Health and Safety. These qualifications have opened up a new career path for Joe to share his 40 years’ of construction industry experience.
Chris Williams (Shepparton)
Chris was working as an arborist when he sustained multiple serious injuries in a motor vehicle accident. During his time at Epworth Rehabilitation Hospital, Chris formed strong friendships with other in-patients who were able to support and motivate each other’s recovery. He believed it was important to return to work for his mental wellbeing, and has persevered to adjust to an office-based role.
Commitment to workplace health and wellbeing
Cobild (South Yarra)
Construction company Cobild fosters work-life balance by offering work arrangements to accommodate employees’ personal goals and social activities to encourage stress relief and build team morale. Cobilt’s commitment to OHS starts at the top, with senior management demonstrating their personal support for employee health, safety and wellbeing by ‘walking the talk’. All key team members receive training in mental health first aid and Cobild conducts regular ‘check-ins’ to ensure workloads and stress levels are manageable.
City of Boroondara
The health and wellbeing of its large and geographically spread workforce is a top priority for the City of Boroondara. The council has implemented a program that promotes physical and mental health with an emphasis on fun. Each month has an allocated work-related health, safety and wellness theme. Everyone is encouraged to participate in the program, no matter where they are located or how their work hours are structured.
Darebin City Council
Family violence has a large impact on Australia’s workforce. Darebin City Council has introduced a whole-of-organisation commitment to address this issue and create a safe and respectful workplace. The council has appointed a family violence support officer and embedded various processes and training into its workplace operations and community programs to deal with family violence issues and encourage reporting.
Best solution to a manual handling issue
Speciality Trees (Narre Warren East)
Speciality Trees pots between 3500 and 4000 trees a week, a task that previously posed a significant manual handling risk to employees who were required to frequently bend, dig and lift heavy pots of soil. To mitigate the risk of musculoskeletal injuries, Speciality Trees’ management consulted with employees and engineers before designing and building a tree potting machine to move the function to chest height. This has also eliminated shovelling and has reduced the required amount of manual handling.
Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust (Springvale)
Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust designed a plant attachment to allow mechanical lifting of mausoleum shutters during internments. The simple attachment removes the risk of manual handling injuries associated with employees needing to manoeuvre large pieces of marble or granite weighing up to 100kg. The risk control measure attaches to existing mausoleum lifters, making it a solution that can be adopted by other cemetery operators.
The Reece Group – Prime Refrigeration Plant (Truganina)
Reece undertook stakeholder consultation to reduce the musculoskeletal injury risk to workers repeatedly lifting and rolling refrigerant cylinders weighing up to 105kg. Many options, including hoists with lifting chains, were tested during the project to improve the manual handling process. The result was the creation of a smart lifting attachment that can self-latch to the lifting head and be easily removed when the cylinder is in place.
OHS Achievement Award
St John of God Berwick Hospital (Berwick)
Prior to construction of the new St John of God Berwick Hospital, user groups, stakeholders, and subject matter experts were consulted on the design and a series of prototype work areas were then built and used to detect any design and safety issues. Workflow and scenario testing was completed over an eight-week period, with numerous improvements identified and implemented. Opening in early 2018, the new hospital is an impressive example of safe design.
Melbourne Water (Melbourne)
Melbourne Water extensively consulted with construction partners, John Holland and CPB Contractors, to develop a program called ‘Safer Together’ that engages all employees working on capital works projects. Melbourne Water has also introduced standardised OHS systems across a range of sub-contractors who have varying degrees of OHS knowledge and training. As a result of the ‘Safer Together’ initiative, Melbourne Water has seen a significant reduction in its total recordable injury frequency rate at its capital works constructions sites.
Health and safety invention of the year
Workplace Maintenance Solutions Pty Ltd (Gisborne)
OHS design engineer Martin James has dedicated more than five years to creating a safer system for conducting wheel end maintenance for heavy vehicles. Usually this task requires two mechanics to work together to conduct the heavy lifting. The refined system offers a solution that lifts and removes the wheels, disc assembly or drum assembly using hydraulic lifting and no manual handling.
Ecogroup Pty Ltd (Dandenong South)
In commercial kitchens, cleaning the exhaust canopy poses risks of working at heights, manual handling, burns, chemical exposure and working in confined spaces with awkward postures. Through consultation, risk assessments and observation, Eco Group developed the ezyAxs Canopy, a commercial kitchen canopy that lowers the exhaust plenum to worker height, eliminating the need to climb onto cooking surfaces to clean the exhausts and filters.
RattleJack Innovations Pty Ltd (Logan)
The RattleJack Innovations SafetySpear reduces the potentially lethal hazard of falling objects for underground mining workers. The invention overcomes the safety concerns associated with current procedures and equipment used to collect lost, broken or abandoned drill rods hanging above work areas. The light weight SafetySpear takes about three minutes to be installed by the production drill rig, saving a significant amount of time for both machinery and human resources.
Best solution to specific workplace health and safety issue
McConnell Dowell Constructors (Australia) Pty Ltd (Port Melbourne)
After securing the contract to restore Swanson Dock East Berth 1, McDonnell Dowell sought an alternative to working from scaffolding and barges, which present risks such as slips, trips, falls and drowning. The company designed reusable platforms named ‘wharf fender access frames’. All surfaces are stable and non-slip and workspaces are well-lit and protected from marine conditions. The multi-level decks can be moved along the wharf in small modules using an on-site crane.
Melbourne Water worked with engineering company John Holland Group and subcontractor JHL, to eliminate the risks poorly installed road plates pose for cyclists. Together the companies developed a methodology that recessed the road plate into the existing road surface with the goal of zero clearance between the horizontal and vertical planes. The installation of high density foam ensured a snug fit to prevent any clanging of the plates when traffic passes over them.
Health and safety representative of the year
Daniel Gili, Diamond Valley Pork Pty Ltd (Laverton North)
Daniel is a highly respected health and safety representative who has been repeatedly re-elected to represent the 60 workers at abattoir and meat processing company Diamond Valley Pork. He has been dedicated to addressing inconsistent incident reporting processes and ensuring procedures are simple and transparent. Daniel takes employee safety very seriously and proactively raises and escalates employees’ concerns.
Robert Kovacs, Victoria Police (Morwell)
Robert is revered by his peers as a remarkable representative for his dedication and perseverance to create awareness, procedural and cultural change in the area of workplace health and safety. Robert has introduced programs to encourage shared responsibility for mental health, and ensured supervisors have the skills required to support employees experiencing difficulties in the workplace.
David Tull, Ambulance Victoria (Seaford)
David is held in high regard for his knowledge, passion and persistence. He has been the elected health and safety representative for his designated working group for the last four years and a member of the Metropolitan East Regional OHS Committee. David’s achievements include identifying and addressing inconsistent incident reporting processes, ensuring the procedures are simple, transparent and include notification to relevant health and safety representatives.
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