Enviable health and safety landscapes

Find out how 2017 SafeWork NSW Award winners, Sailfish Catamarans and Port Stephens Council, have built their workplace health and safety culture.

Sailfish Catamaran

Established in 1993 and based in Alstonville in northern NSW, Sailfish Catamarans builds aluminium boats. From a staff of two producing five boats a year, the company has grown to a staff of 19 full time tradesmen and apprentices building about 30 custom-built catamarans a year. Today, it is a successful manufacturing and exporting business.

It is also the envy of many small businesses, having won the 2017 SafeWork award for excellence in workplace health and safety culture for small business.

‘It’s a great achievement,’ said Ian Drew, Purchasing and Administration Officer.

‘We’ve come a long way and everyone’s on board with our new culture.’

The company is proud of its young workforce and employs a new apprentice every year – and from day 1 a safety culture is embedded. New employees are taught the company’s values, what they will learn, work ethic and workplace expectations.

This, coupled with a no bullying policy and apprentice buddy system, allows everyone to understand and own their responsibilities in the workplace.

The owner, Darren Foster, says the company has undergone significant cultural change in its commitment to health and safety. There is now an open door policy with all senior management regarding health and safety issues, and daily tool box talks in which all mangers participate.

The company’s consultation process recently resulted in new equipment being introduced to address risks associated with working at heights.

Today, Sailfish Catamarans boasts a dynamic workforce that is committed to safety.

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Port Stephens Council

Testament to Port Stephens Council’s outstanding safety culture is a work health and safety audit score exceeding other regional councils by more than 20 per cent.

The council is also the winner of the 2017 SafeWork award for excellence in workplace health and safety culture for large business.

The council boasts 13 health and safety representatives, plus deputies, a hazard ID app, a dedicated safety page on its intranet, health and safety noticeboards, ergonomic assessments, safety alerts, monthly newsletters, and a health and wellness program.

The general manager attends induction sessions for new employees and chairs health and safety committee meetings, and all senior managers are required to do two field visits every month.

The results speak for themselves: premiums are down 50 per cent over the past seven years; cost of claims are about half that of other councils; the number of claims have fallen almost 50 per cent over the past six years; and the council scored over 96 per cent in a work health and safety audit, compared with about 75 per cent for other councils.

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Read more about the SafeWork NSW Awards.

30 years’ bad practice bites back

In February 2015, a worker fell almost four metres while installing cladding on a roof. He suffered fractured ribs and vertebrae, and a punctured lung.

NSW District Court Judge David Russell fined the business owner $60,000 for breaching his health and safety duties regarding safe systems of work and $1,500 for failing to notify us of a serious incident immediately after becoming aware of it.

The principal duties of the worker included making houseboats and doing general steel fabrication work. He was a first-class sheet metal worker and held a forklift and elevated work platform licence, but had no formal qualifications as a roofer and no training in relation to working from heights.

On the day of the incident, the business owner left work early to attend a funeral and, during his absence, another worker – supposedly the company’s ‘informal’ supervisor (given he’d been with the company the longest) – told his colleague to finish roofing the workshop.

The worker used a scissor lift to access the roof and convey the cladding to the roof, then climbed out of the lift to secure the sheeting. When a sheet slipped sideways, the worker fell almost three metres onto a compressor and another metre onto a concrete floor. There was no fall prevention system in place.

Immediately following the fall, the supervisor called an ambulance then contacted the owner, who in turn notified the insurer (but not us). If there is a serious injury or illness, a death or a dangerous incident, the law says you must report it to us immediately – and notify your insurer within 48 hours.

Under cross examination, the business owner revealed that for the past 30 years workers’ regularly worked on houseboats and were often four metres above the ground without fall protection or proper training. This revelation was a clear contradiction to his assurance that had he been present at work, he would have insisted on getting a qualified roofing contractor and would have forbidden anyone else from doing the job.

A catalyst for change

It took a near miss and a fall to prompt D&D Traffic Management and David Kay and Daniel Seidel to develop and implement solutions to health and safety issues they had identified in their respective workplaces. They both won the 2017 SafeWork Award for best solution to an identified workplace health and safety issue, D&D for a large business, David and Daniel for a small business.

In 2012, an impatient driver almost collided with one of D&D ‘s traffic controllers. The near miss was the catalyst for PORTABOOM, a portable, remote-controlled boom gate that allowed traffic controllers to operate the device from a safe zone on the footpath, out of harm’s way. It has now been used in more than 4000 job sites throughout Australia and has resulted in a 90 per cent reduction in incidents at D&D.

‘This innovation is changing the behaviour of traffic management in Australia,’ said Rob Cazzolli, Managing Director of D&D, ‘and we’re delighted to be recognised for that.’

‘Sharing this award with our 250 employees is the most important thing for us,’ Rob said.

On the other hand, David Kay and Daniel Seidel were prompted to develop ‘The Lacket’ following an injury to a family member who fell from a ladder. ‘The Lacket’ is a simple attachment that secures an extension ladder to the building fascia and holds it completely off the gutter, reducing the risk of a fall from height. It was designed, engineered, tested and certified in Australia.

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‘To be acknowledged like this is to be recognised by industry leaders,’ said David, a full-time paramedic. ‘It’s awesome.’

‘We’re ecstatic,’ said Daniel, the engineer of the duo.

Register now for the 2018 SafeWork NSW Awards.

A one-stop shop for all your workplace consultation needs

Are you confused about your obligations when it comes to workplace consultation?

SafeWork NSW has launched a ‘one-stop shop’ Consultation @ Work toolkit, designed to help improve work health and safety and consultation practices in NSW workplaces.

The toolkit provides a wealth of information that will help NSW workplaces comply with their workplace consultation obligations, to ensure their business is healthy, safe and more productive.

All NSW workplaces have a legal obligation to consult with their workers. The toolkit brings together all the information that a business needs to be able to do this.

The toolkit includes tailored videos and animations, real life case studies, and simple advice.

It has been developed in consultation with a broad range of stakeholders, and will evolve over time to include new content.

Take a look at the Consultation @ Work toolkit today. If you have feedback or suggestions, email consultation@safework.nsw.gov.au.

2017 SafeWork NSW Leadership in Safety Award winner

Paul Lyndon is the National Safety Manager at Diona, a civil engineering contractor that designs and builds infrastructure projects.

He is also a proud recipient of the 2017 SafeWork NSW Leadership in Safety Award for his all-round excellence in work health and safety, workers compensation and recovery at work.

‘The company and I are very humbled by this award,’ said Paul.

Paul has volunteered his time as a mentor in the SafeWork NSW mentor program for the past eight years, visits regional schools to talk about farm safety and quad bikes, contributes to safety training for emergency services, teaches good safety postures for manual handling – and runs yoga classes in his spare time.

He takes great pride in having implemented an accredited health and safety system at Diona, and he constantly engages with staff to ensure they are invested in the company’s safety policies and procedures.

‘It gives me so much pleasure encouraging people to do something worthwhile that could save someone’s life,’ said Paul.

Paul’s dedication, passion and persistence in the health and safety field has seen a leap in worker morale, a fall in the number of incidents, and no experience premium applied to the business for the past two years.

Visit SafeWork NSW Awards to find out more.

Blitz on falls on construction sites

Falls from heights are the leading killer on NSW construction sites, so we are conducting a blitz over the next 12 months to crack down on employers who fail to protect workers.

We will be visiting construction sites across NSW to ensure compliance and raise awareness about the risks when working at heights.

This blitz is geared towards saving lives and has been prompted by a tripling of falls incidents reported to us over the last five years, with the majority occurring in the construction industry. So far this year, eight workers have been killed – and many more suffered catastrophic injuries.

Myles Lowry knows all too well the terrible consequences when workplace safety goes awry. He was severely injured when he fell four metres onto a concrete slab on a mid-north coast construction site.

An additional and alarming statistic reported by SafeWork Australia is that nearly half of all fatalities in construction last year occurred between October and the end-of-year. We aim to make sure all tradies are safe and sound this Christmas.

The blitz coincides with the introduction of tough new laws, where employers can be fined up to $3600 for failing to control the risk of falls adequately.

Fall prevention deserves your attention.

Find out how simple safety can be when working at heights.

Becoming an exemplary regulator

Our six-year Work Health and Safety Roadmap demonstrates our commitment to ‘right touch’ regulatory approaches through collaboration, innovation and expertise.

With a greater focus on innovation and data analytics, we will be empowered to lead the nation as a smarter and more targeted work health and safety regulator.

Our newly established, world-class research centre, the Centre for Work Health and Safety (the Centre), will pull together the latest data and research to inform safer business practices and more effective regulation for workplaces in NSW.

The Centre will build a network of world-class expertise and capabilities to drive further reductions in workplace fatalities and serious injuries. A high-profile Research Foundation will support the Centre by investing in leading-edge, cross-disciplinary and academic research through collaboration and partnership with eminent work health and safety research providers.

The Centre comprises four fundamental streams: research, insights and analytics, science outreach and business support.

The research stream will undertake business-driven and applied research with our partners.

The insights and analytics stream will analyse a variety of knowledge sources to uncover insights and use analytical capabilities to investigate workplace harms, behaviours and practices.

The science outreach stream will lead the development of appropriate skills, activities and dialogues to raise interest in, and understanding of, work health and safety research. It will inform work practices and change safety behaviours.

The business support stream will lead the centre’s governance, align strategies, and manage finances, contracts, projects and information.

By providing employers and workers with relevant, evidence-based information drawn from robust research and data, we will ensure that people are safer, healthier and more productive at work.