Winners announced for 2021 WorkSafe Awards
Workers, businesses, and health and safety representatives who have gone the extra mile to keep Victorian workplaces safe have been recognised at the WorkSafe Awards. The awards celebrated those who went above and beyond to improve workplace health and safety, and the resilience of injured workers who overcame obstacles to make a successful return to work. Eight winners across seven categories were recognised for their contributions to workplace health and safety, including health and safety representatives Adrian Lidsey and Christopher Ball, for their outstanding work in representing their co-workers to create a smoke-free working environment.
Two new categories were added to this year’s awards, to honour commitments to improving mental health in the workplace and to farm safety. WorkSafe Chief Executive Officer Colin Radford said the new categories highlight the need for improvement in these areas.
“Every year at WorkSafe mental injuries account for a greater share of our claims. Meanwhile farms remain one of the most dangerous places to work. We hope these success stories encourage more workplaces to think about how they can take a prevention-led approach towards health and safety,” Radford said.
Aurora Dairies received the Commitment to Workplace Health and Safety on a Farm award for improving safety for quadbike operators by implementing low-cost technologies such as GPS tracking and geo-fencing across 25 farms. Geo-fenced farms can identify terrain that poses a rollover risk, and the data is used to set speed limits. Alida Kildey from Goulburn Valley Health received the Leading Return to Work Practice award, for the organisation’s approach to helping injured workers return to work, as it focuses on treating ‘the whole person’. By including the workers’ home life and their community connections as part of the recovery program, Goulburn Valley Health supports workers to focus on what they can do.
Gwynnyth Evans, a proud Murri woman, also received a special recommendation for her decades-long career dedicated to improving workplace health and safety. Evans was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award, for fighting for the passage of the OHS Act, representing countless workers through the compensation system, and demanding justice for students who participated in an unsafe clinical trial.
In total there were 23 finalists shortlisted for the 2021 WorkSafe Awards, chosen from more than 180 nominees. Radford congratulated every winner and finalist for their efforts in boosting workplace health and safety. “We had such a strong pool of finalists, and all of them deserve to be applauded for their sheer dedication towards developing safer and healthier workplaces. The winners are an inspiration to workplaces across Victoria. They are prime examples of how businesses and individuals flourish when health and safety take centre stage,” Radford said.
Adrian Lidsey and Christopher Ball from Crown Melbourne received the Health and Safety Representative of the Year award; Crown Casino had a legal exemption to allow smoking within parts of the workplace, which meant employees were exposed to the health risks associated with passive smoking. Lidsey and Bell dedicated their time to gathering health and safety concerns and meeting with senior management and government representatives to create a smoke-free workplace.
The Commitment to Prevention of Mental Injury in the Workplace honour was awarded to Western Health, for encouraging its staff to prioritise their own safety in the face of violence and aggression through its ‘Predict, Prevent, Priority: Safety Strategy’. The strategy addresses unsafe cultural practices to reduce the incidence of workplace violence and aggression, along with the potential for psychological injury.
Ash Presser from URBNSURF received the OHS Leadership/Achievement award for carrying out extensive research and developing a six-step process to safely launch a safety framework to help identify and monitor OHS risks in a niche industry.
AusNet Services received the Workplace Health and Safety Solution of the Year award, for its app, Aim Zero. The app uses geospatial data to alert staff via a smartwatch to nearby hazards while they work alone in the field. It also uses smartphone features such as fall detection and heart monitoring to alert managers to potential incidents. Western Health also received the award for developing an isolation hood that helps protect healthcare workers treating COVID-19 patients. The “McMonty” by medihood is a reusable isolation hood that reduces aerosol and droplet contamination, allowing non-invasive ventilation of COVID-19 patients. The device is now being used across Australia, as well as in Papua New Guinea and Nauru.
High voltage operator George Vagias from the Melbourne Water Corporation received the Worker Return to Work Achievement Award, for showing courage and returning to the workforce after suffering a severe electric shock. Thirteen years ago, Vagias was electrocuted in a workplace incident, sustaining burns to 60% of his body. Vagias was placed in an induced coma for 30 days. Six months later, Vagias was back at work — over the years, George has overcome many challenges, including the addictive nature of prescribed morphine-based pain medication. Since returning to work, he has dedicated his career to improving health and safety standards and has pursued health and safety at Melbourne Water and in the broader industry.
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