Falls victim issues safety warning: plan the job


Friday, 29 April, 2016

Falls victim issues safety warning: plan the job

Edward (Ted) Newton used to think safety got in the way.

Then he fell head first off a second-storey balcony at home, crashing onto garden rocks and suffering serious injuries.

The 69-year-old is a crew leader in Unitywater’s Southern Civil Maintenance team in Queensland. A former employee of Redcliffe City Council and Moreton Bay Regional Council, who joined Unitywater when it formed in 2010, Newton has 28 years’ experience in the water industry.

“In the past I’ve not been one of the safest workers,” Newton said. “My main emphasis was getting the job done, and I often used to think safety got in the way.

“I now realise that was the wrong view.”

The crew leader acknowledged the strong focus on safety at his workplace of Unitywater, but he became complacent when it came to a simple repair to a balcony railing at his home late last year.

He broke his shoulder in three places, fractured his skull, cut his arm and suffered damage to his ribs, knee and feet. Forced to take four months off work, he still experiences after-effects from the fall, having lost his sense of taste and smell.

“Believe me, if it happens to you, it changes you,” Newton said.

“I wish I had a chance to go back. Why didn’t I take a few precautions?”

Newton was so intent on reminding others about the importance of safety that he approached his employer, Unitywater, to help him get the message across. The result was a compelling video of him simply telling his story.

Newton shared these simple tips so that others may avoid experiencing a similar accident.

“Find a way yourself of doing a risk assessment on everything you do. Plan the job, make sure you’ve got the gear to do it and take plenty of time.”

Unitywater Executive Manager People, Culture and Safety Kenan Hibberd praised Newton for being so willing to share his experience for the benefit of others.

“What happened to Ted was a tragic accident,” Hibberd said. “But even Ted acknowledges it could have easily been avoided if he took a few simple safety precautions.

“We want our employees to go home safely to their families every day, and continue being safe, whether they’re at home or at work.”

Unitywater is celebrating a record low rate of workplace injury in the most recent financial year, returning a lost time injury frequency rate of just 0.8.

The significant injury frequency rate was down 58% to eight, enabling Unitywater to save $382,000 on workers compensation costs.

The company has achieved dramatic decreases in injury rates among its staff with historic data showing the lost time injury frequency rate was 34.5 in 2010–11, 23.7 in 2011–12, 6.8 in 2012–13 and 1.4 in 2013–14.

The number of lost days resulting from workplace injuries has fallen markedly from 951 days in 2011/12 to just one day in 2014/15.

“We have been able to achieve this excellent result through continued investment in safety management systems and medical programs, with a new focus on improving employee health and wellbeing,” Hibberd added.

“Staff across the business have embraced the shared responsibility for keeping each other safe.

“That dedication to looking out for each other has improved morale, teamwork and wellbeing outcomes for staff.”

Unitywater has been providing water supply and sewerage services to Moreton Bay, Noosa and Sunshine Coast residential and business customers since 2010. It was established by the Queensland Government, under the South-East Queensland Water (Distribution and Retail) Act 2009, as part of the Queensland Government water reform program.

To watch the video of Ted Newton telling his compelling story, click here.

Image courtesy of Unitywater.

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