WorkSafe Awards winners set the gold standard for safety
A workplace safety pioneer, a stable hand who has returned to work after suffering a serious spinal cord injury and a company that reshaped its approach to preventing mental injury in the workplace were among the winners at the 2022 WorkSafe Awards.
About 400 people attended last night's event at Melbourne's Plaza Ballroom to celebrate the finalists' commitment to improving workplace health and safety.
Attendees heard inspiring stories from workers about their journey back to employment after suffering a workplace injury.
Stable hand David Wrout took home the Return to Work Achievement award. The Grampians Racing worker had a quad bike accident in February 2022 that resulted in a serious spinal cord injury. Following three months of intense treatment, he is now back on light duties.
Independent family service organisation Berry Street was successful in the Leading Return to Work Practice category for its in-house care model that has seen return to work rates significantly improve.
WorkSafe Chief Executive Colin Radford said more than 120 nominations were received for the 2022 awards, resulting in 19 finalists vying for top honours across seven categories.
"All finalists, and indeed all those who nominated, should be rightly proud of their efforts in improving workplace health and safety," Mr Radford said.
"Congratulations to the winners for leading the way and implementing measures that will have a significant and positive impact for many years to come."
Renata Musolino received the Outstanding Leadership and Contribution to Health and Safety award for dedicating her more than 30-year career to improving workplace health and safety outcomes, including the training of countless health and safety representatives (HSRs).
Mr Radford praised Renata for the important initiatives she fought hard for during her career.
"Described as an OHS ‘warrior’, Renata was very much a pioneer during her career," Mr Radford said.
"Renata created websites to educate workers on health and safety issues, answered around 25,000 health and safety queries, trained thousands of HSRs, and was instrumental in a number of important reforms, including the introduction of asbestos regulations and industrial manslaughter as a criminal offence."
Sheila Narayan was named Health and Safety Representative of the Year for her efforts in combatting excessive workloads within the Office of the Public Advocate.
The Workplace Health and Safety Solution of the Year award was shared between Synergetics Consulting Engineers, and the partnership of Consolidated Plant Services and Banyule City Council.
Synergetics developed a technology that has significantly reduced worker exposure to solvent while painting trains, while CPS and BCC developed an interlock mechanism to prevent backhoe rollovers.
CDC Victoria was presented with the Commitment to Prevention of Mental Injury in the Workplace award for its Healthy Minds Work program, which includes tailored interventions and prevention strategies to reduce the risk of psychosocial hazards.
2022 WorkSafe Awards winners
Health and Safety Representative of the Year
Sheila Narayan – Office of the Public Advocate
To combat excessive workloads for guardians at the Office of the Public Advocate, Sheila established several designated working groups, each containing employees who perform similar jobs or have similar occupational health and safety concerns, and two health and safety representatives. When consultations failed, Sheila issued a provisional improvement notice citing the workload’s physical and mental impact. The notice, which was affirmed by WorkSafe and then unsuccessfully challenged in VCAT, resulted in a number of improvements, including the removal of new case targets from performance development plans.
Delta Group was engaged by ENGIE to demolish the Hazelwood power station and its associated mine assets. Delta successfully completed the task with no lost time injuries over three years and more than one million man-hours of work. The project involved the controlled demolition of chimneys, boiler houses and dredgers, as well as the removal of more than 65,000 cubic metres of asbestos. Risks were identified and managed through consultation with a variety of stakeholders, helping create a strong safety culture where workers were encouraged to highlight concerns. A counsellor specialising in mental health regularly visited the site to speak with workers about their health and wellbeing.
Outstanding Leadership and Contribution to Health and Safety
For more than three decades, Renata dedicated her career to improving workplace health and safety, particularly through the education and training of thousands of HSRs. She was instrumental in the development of asbestos regulations and lobbied the Victorian Government to implement important OHS legislation, including the introduction of industrial manslaughter as a criminal offence. Renata founded and maintained the OHSrep.org.au website and SafetyNet Journal – an online newsletter containing an ‘Ask Renata’ section that addressed issues HSRs were having. Described as a “warrior” of the OHS space, Renata retired in 2022 after 20-plus years at the Victorian Trades Hall Council.
Commitment to Prevention of Mental Injury in the Workplace/strong>
Transport company CDC Victoria introduced its Healthy Minds Work program following a comprehensive assessment of all workplace psychosocial hazards and historical mental health claims. The catalyst was the suicidal ideation of one of CDC’s more than 1,000 workers. Recognising it was ill-equipped to handle the situation, CDC developed an integrated, organisation-wide approach to psychological risk and mental health. Healthy Minds Work has tailored interventions and prevention strategies to reduce the risk of psychosocial hazards and improve the work environment.
Workplace Health and Safety Solution of the Year (joint winners)
Synergetics Consulting Engineers – Towards zero exposure
Metro Trains Melbourne engaged Synergetics Consulting Engineers to develop technology to reduce workers’ exposure to solvent while painting trains. Hundreds of detailed simulations identified a particular ventilation design that carried solvent-contaminated air away from the worker’s breathing zone. Workers were consulted regularly, providing valuable insight and feedback. Ultimately, an existing maintenance workshop has been transformed into a facility capable of painting entire trains with relatively low airborne solvent concentration levels. The project has also reduced the risk of an explosion during the painting process.
Consolidated Plant Services and Banyule City Council – Interlock backhoe mechanism
Following the rollover of one of its backhoes, Banyule City Council tasked Consolidated Plant Services with engineering a device that would prevent another rollover. A series of risk assessments and consultation with stakeholders resulted in CPS developing an interlock mechanism that essentially acts as a stabilising counterweight. The mechanism has been fitted to the Council’s backhoe fleet. No incidents have been recorded since the introduction of the interlock, which has the potential to be installed on other plant and machinery.
Leading Return to Work Practice
The independent family service organisation previously outsourced all of its responsibilities regarding injured workers. This resulted in an immediate disconnect that led to less than ideal outcomes. In July 2021 Berry Street implemented a new in-house care model that has seen return to work rates significantly improve. The organisation has also educated its leadership team on the importance of effective return to work systems of support and the positive impact this has on staff and performance.
Worker Return to Work Achievement
David Wrout – Grampians Racing
Almost a year ago to the day, David, a stable hand, had a quad bike accident that resulted in a serious spinal cord injury. He was airlifted to the Royal Melbourne Hospital, where he spent almost a month before being moved to a rehabilitation centre, where he spent a further two months. David was extremely driven to return to work, doing so in July on light duties that have been incorporated into his ongoing rehabilitation program.