Twenty-three Victorian businesses, health and safety representatives and individuals are among the finalists in the 2017 WorkSafe Awards to be held on October 19 in Melbourne during Health and Safety month.
According to WorkSafe chief executive Clare Amies each finalist has shown an ability to go above and beyond in helping to make Victorian workplaces safer or in returning to work after an injury.
“All of the finalists recognise the importance of prevention of injury and illness in the workplace, and they share an incredible passion for keeping workers safe and supporting injured workers return to work,” Amies said.
“WorkSafe is also so thrilled to see such steely determination in the finalists who have overcome an injury or obstacles and returned to safe work.”
Finance Minister Robin Scott added his congratulations to the finalists for their outstanding contributions to workplace health and safety.
“It is both satisfying and reassuring to see such variety in the way Victorian businesses and workers are addressing health and safety issues,” Minister Scott said.
“All the finalists should be commended for developing new initiatives, inventions and ways of working that reflect a real commitment to safer and happier workplaces.”
Here are some of the finalists:
Best Solution to a Specific Workplace Health and Safety Issue
AusNet Electricity (Lilydale)
AusNet Services Three Way Hybrid Bracket overcomes the risks associated with the maintenance of heavy high voltage cables. Previously, maintenance involved removing 3x15kg cables and their support bracket from power poles, which posed a manual handling risk and the potential for workers to trip over the cables as they were being worked on at ground level. The hybrid bracket allows the cables to be worked on without being removed, which gets rid of the manual handling risk and saves valuable man-hours for the maintenance crews.
When restaurant chain Grill’d became aware of the hazards associated with manual handling and chemical use during the cleaning of exhaust hoods, it consulted with safety experts, employees and manufacturers, to come up with a number of innovative solutions. These included designing a special tool to lift the filters out of the hood; a steam cleaning process that could be operated at ground level and without chemicals; and designing a special tool to allow oil drainage at ground level. The solution eliminates the risks associated with working at height and chemical exposure.
Melbourne Water (Melbourne)
Melbourne Water has successfully trialled and adopted Virtual Reality in Design, which has enhanced its ability to identify design defects and OHS risks when planning capital projects. Previously, two dimensional drawings and 3D modelling was used but it was challenging for technicians and operators to imagine or contextualise the finished plant and thereby offer effective feedback regarding safety or operating issues. As a consequence, less obvious design and safety issues were being overlooked, which posed potential injury risks and costly fixes after the project had been completed. Virtual Reality is now embedded in Melbourne Water’s safety and hazard identification processes.
Best Solution to a Manual Handling Issue
Window furnishing manufacturer Viewscape introduced a number of aids to stop workers having to frequently bend, lift and move heavy fabric rolls and blinds. The work posed significant manual handling injury risks, including sprains and strains to the back, neck, shoulder, elbows and wrists. Employees were involved in the development of the Tube Lifter, which picks up the heavy fabric rolls and places them on purpose-built hand trolleys for easy movement around the warehouse. A special cradle was also developed making it easier for staff to lift blinds of various sizes and weights.
Coles Supermarkets (Craigieburn)
The Red Rover Motorised Trolley Pusher was developed by Coles to reduce the risk of injury to workers involved in shopping trolley collection - a repetitive and physically demanding task. The Red Rover is a motorised trolley pusher which eliminates the need for manually pushing nests of trollies and includes ergonomic features such as LED hazard lights, Bluetooth remote control operation, and emergency stop and automated braking systems.
HIAB Australia and Miglas (Dandenong South)
The risks involved in shifting double glass windows (weighing up to 400kg) from factory to worksite prompted Miglas, a small, family-run company that manufactures industrial glass windows and doors, to seek a safer system. Miglas engaged transport engineering solution company HIAB Australia and together they designed a unique truck and forklift transport system. The truck has a customized loading and load restraint system to move glass around the factory, while the forklift uses a special vacuum suction attachment to unload the glass. The forklift can also be mounted onto the truck to assist with unloading at the worksite.
Barwon Health (Geelong)
Barwon Health's renal dialysis units help save lives but staff reported that they faced the risk of injury because they were required to bend, lean and reach in awkward and unsafe positions for up to four hours at a time while carrying out regular maintenance and repair. Although there had been no injuries to date, the potential for injury was high. Unable to find a suitable device "off the shelf", Barwon Health worked with manufacturer Liftaide to create a unique, portable lifting device so the units could be raised to a suitable height where they can be worked on safely.
OHS Achievement/Invention of the Year
Branach Manufacturing (Boronia)
The family-owned company describes its Modular Ladder System with Fall Control as a “portable height safety system”. Unlike a conventional ladder, it allows access to two-storey rooftops and incorporates several safety innovations such as a stabilising system to ensure correct set-up and an in-built fall arrest and rescue system. The legs can be independently deployed to set up on rocky, uneven or sloped surfaces giving the user a stable base to work from.
The Eziloader team developed its Ground Level Loading Trailer to eliminate the risk of manual handling injuries associated with lifting heavy objects onto conventional trailers. The trailer deck can be lowered to ground level, which also removes the need for ramps when loading goods. Safety features include corner locks and tailgate sensors to ensure the deck is raised and locked before the trailer can be moved.
Hope Assistance Local Tradies (HALT) (Castlemaine)
The tragic suicide of a fellow tradesperson and friend prompted Castlemaine’s Jeremy Forbes to create HALT - a community initiative to support the mental health of local tradies. From “Save your Bacon” breakfasts where tradies are given a chance to talk about issues such as anxiety or depression, HALT is now a registered health promotions charity that has formed alliances with many mental health and suicide prevention agencies. It’s estimated HALT has directly touched 7000 people through special events and thousands more through word-of-mouth and media coverage.
Commitment to Workplace Health and Wellbeing
Vokke is a software development studio, which puts its team’s health and wellbeing first. Management keenly promotes work-life balance by offering and encouraging flexible work arrangements and also encourages regular check-ins to ensure workloads are manageable, stress levels are low, and staff are feeling fulfilled. Strategies are put in place to address any issues identified during check-ins. Workers are given weekly “innovation time” to work on their own projects to promote self-development and push the business forward in new ways.
Fonterra Australia (Stanhope)
While its dairy factory underwent significant expansion, Fonterra wanted to make its large contractor workforce feel valued so they, in turn, would value each other and keep themselves safe. To improve workplace culture, the Major Capital Projects Team developed a “village” on the site to build a sense of community among contractors. The Village includes collaborative meeting spaces, recreational spaces, a café that provides healthy meals and a range of support services to help workers deal with the impact of living away from family and friends.
Altus Traffic Australia (Port Melbourne)
As a company that provides traffic control workers to sites around the country, Altus recognised the challenge of creating sustainable health and wellbeing outcomes for a workforce predominantly made up of casual employees and contractors. So it spent 12 months researching and developing an innovative workplace planning and development program called TC DRIVE. While usual practice in the traffic control industry is to allocate workers based on geography and the numbers needed for a job, TC Drive collects detailed information about its employees’ experience, capabilities, and learning and development goals so that they can be aligned with the most suitable working environment, team composition and training opportunities.
Leading Return to Work practice by an Employer
In an Australian first, labour hire and recruitment consultancy HORNER developed a new return to work program in partnership with charity organisation St Vincent de Paul Society (Vinnies). Injured workers who are capable of returning to work, but not yet able to perform their pre-injury duties, are able to perform light or modified duties at Vinnies shops as they recover and regain strength. The initiative addresses the challenge faced by labour hire companies in finding suitable duties for injured employees while giving injured employees the chance to make a difference to a charitable cause. Since the program’s inception in 2013, HORNER has seen a dramatic reduction in time lost from work due to injury.
Specialty Fashion Group (Melbourne)
The Recover@Work Program developed by Specialty Fashion Group is aimed at encouraging employees to participate in wellness and resilience programs and to recover at work if they are injured. The program provides employees with access to advice through a 24-hour injury management hotline and a Welcome Back pack, which provides easy-to-understand information about workers compensation and other forms of support. As a result, the Group reports a significant reduction in claims frequency, average cost of claims and national premium.
Image sourced from Flickr cc: Lenny K Photography