The winners were named at a gala ceremony attended by 450 people at the Crown Palladium in Melbourne last night.
WorkSafe Chief Executive Clare Amies said the high quality of the finalists was a strong indication that employers and workers were making safety a priority in more Victorian workplaces than ever before.
"Each finalist has brought a new perspective to workplace safety by thinking 'outside the square," Ms Amies said.
"To see the lengths many of the finalists have gone to in order to address a health and safety issue or get back to work after an injury is simply inspiring.
"The finalists have shown it doesn't matter where you are based, or how large or small your organisation, safety is everyone's responsibility and anyone can make a difference.
"Every finalist can be proud of the wonderful work they are doing to make Victorian workplaces safer, and to help injured workers back to safe work."
Best Solution to a Specific Workplace Health and Safety Issue
Melbourne Water - virtual reality in design
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
HIAB Australia and Miglas - Mechanical devices that eliminate manual handling
The risks involved in shifting double glass windows (weighing up to 400kg) from factory to worksite prompted Miglas, a small, family company that manufactures industrial glass windows and doors, to seek a safer system. Miglas engaged transport engineering solution company HIAB Australia to help design 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.
HALT - Hope Assistance Local Tradies
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.
Health and Safety Invention of the Year
Eziloader - Ground Level Loading Trailers
The Eziloader team developed its Ground Level Loading Trailers 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.
Health and Safety Representative of the Year
Michael Muscat - Visy Board
Michael has been actively involved as Health and Safety Representative at VisyBoard's Coolaroo site for 19 years. His staunch commitment and proactive approach has led to positive changes in the company's OHS culture. For example, after initiating discussions about fatigue in the workplace, he helped introduce a nightshift which reduced fatigue-related risks for employees who previously worked up to 5x12 hour shifts per week.
Commitment to Workplace Health and Wellbeing
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.
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 among staff in time lost from work due to injury.
Return to Work Coordinator Excellence
Lindsey Doolin - Salvation Army
With stress and other mental injury issues making up a significant proportion of the Salvation Army's workers' compensation claims, Lindsey has gone to lengths to expand her understanding of the causes, and has been instrumental in developing the psychological health component of the organisation's Wellbeing Strategy, its' Employee Assistance Program and other OHS policies and procedures. Data from the Wellbeing Program now shows a strong reduction in the number of workers reporting depression, anxiety and stress.
Worker Return to Work Achievement
Richard Wallace - Victoria Police
While based at Warrnambool, Sergeant Richard Wallace was required to attend three fatal car crashes on the same night in October 2010. Despite being significantly affected, Richard tried to "push on" without assistance or counselling. By 2013, he was battling severe depression and needed treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. Richard began a gradual return to the job he loves in January 2014 and, while the road to recovery continues to be challenging, he is sharing his experience with other frontline emergency services workers to urge them to look after their mental health.