Safety, Health and Wellbeing

Safety awards 2009

Our role is to develop and assist in the implementation of the UWA safety, health and wellbeing programs in order to minimise the risk of injury, illness and property damage.

We provide consultancy and other services to promote best practice and legislative compliance in all University and related activities.

The University Safety Awards for 2009 acknowledged the contributions made to occupational safety and health at the University and its affiliates by both groups and individuals.

The awards were presented on 26 October by Winthrop Professor Bill Louden, Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor.

  1. Nominations for group award
  2. Nominations for individual awards
  3. Group safety award
  4. Individual safety award
  5. Safety leadership award
  6. Safety recognition award
  7. Acknowledgements

Nominations for group award

Three nominations were received for Building Services (Facilities Management), UWA Business School and the School of Surgery.

Building Services (Facilities Management)

The Facilities Management Building Services workshops employ 49 staff across two workshops. The General Workshop is on the main campus and the Cabinet Workshop is located next to McGillivray Oval. The workshops safety objectives are clear and staff have responsibilities and are accountable for:

  • Ensuring safe working procedures are adhered to within the two workshops and on all maintenance and minor works refurbishment sites
  • Overseeing the work of contractors and sub contractors in accordance with UWA safety and health policies
  • Providing safe, environmentally sound solutions on issues relating to the maintenance of University facilities

Noteworthy aspects of the Building Services submission included:

  • Active Safety Committee. Minutes distributed to all team members.
  • Monthly safety inspections of all workshop areas. These inspections include a roster to include a different team member each month to accompany the safety and health representative. This assists in educating individual staff members.
  • In addition to the time spent on inspections a safety and health representative is released from their normal duties for one day a month to focus on addressing safety documentation and training requirements.
  • Excellent house keeping practices across all workshop and construction sites.
  • Comprehensive safety inductions for all new staff and apprentices.
  • Ongoing education of staff on the importance of safety. Safety has become a part of every Thursday morning staff meeting and is discussed at length.
  • Frequent training courses across a wide range of issues, such as working at heights, confined spaces and gas detection.
  • Training in the interpretation and use of Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS).
  • Development of Job Safety Analysis (JSA) and Standard Operating Procedures (SOP).
  • Updated all fixed workshop machinery SOP.
  • Documented acknowledgment from staff of understanding and use of safety equipment, fixed and mobile equipment and personal protective equipment following provision of relevant information, instruction and training.
  • Specialists are used for work such as the removal of asbestos.
  • Clear signage and notices to all staff regarding safety and health.
  • A dedicated minor incident report form to streamline the reporting process.
  • Ensuring the safety and providing good role models for apprentices (currently employing 6 apprentices)

Building Services have previously received a Group Safety Award in 2003 and a Group Rehabilitation Award in 2005. A champion of the safety culture within Building Services is Virgil Matoe, who has persistently maintained a strong, determined approach to workplace safety and health and has done so whilst maintaining a solid, respectful relationship with his co workers and team mates.

UWA Business School

The Business School was established as a one School Faculty in January 2007 with the integration of the School of Economics and Commerce and Graduate School of Management. The integration process progressed in 2008 with the recruitment of more than ten professional staff into vacant positions in all areas and the creation of uniform support teams in a flat management structure. The Business School Moved into a new building in early 2009 with unique architectural features such as lock down areas, twelve operational areas and an extensive use of glass plus a high student and staff occupation at regular intervals from 8 am to 9 pm, all of which presented a number of safety challenges. Noteworthy aspects of the UWABS submission include:

  • Safety Group established early in 2009 with own Terms of Reference and meetings schedule with agenda, notes and appendices to track action, inform and record.
  • Important safety and health information and requirements from the Safety Group disseminated via Staff Meetings and intranet.
  • Intranet (SharePoint) with dedicated safety document library, critical for ongoing accessible recordkeeping and for enabling cross team development and improvement of safety “tools” and knowledge.
  • Early and ongoing liaison with UWA Safety and Health for available resources and assistance with hazard identification and resolution, awareness raising and group training session with the Safety Group, clarification of procedures to ensure compliance with UWA requirements.
  • Dedicated key staff allocated to management of safety roles such as Building Warden, Deputy and Area Wardens.
  • Development of specific safety procedures and tools including warden’s roles and duties, templates for evacuation procedures posters (with a staff focus) and venue specific evacuation procedures (lecture theatres and tutorial rooms).
  • Ensuring relevant safety training of wardens, first aid officers and supervisors.
  • Ensuring ergonomic assessments for all staff on relocation to the new building.
  • Ensuring early reporting and addressing of potential hazards such as manual handling, missing hand rails, missing exterior staircase and air conditioning

The UWABS was highly commended for the professionalism and efficiency displayed during their building evacuation exercise held in September 2009. This was a testimony to the planning, resourcing and practice that they had undertaken, prompted by the move to the new building.

School of Surgery

In response to a scheduled internal UWA occupational health and safety management systems (OHSMS) audit the School implemented a number of improvements including:

  • Production of controlled safety and health related documents.
  • Purchase of safety equipment and infrastructure, including 15 laboratory chairs.
  • Purchase of a compliant First Aid Kit.
  • Identifying trained First Aid Officer and medical trained personnel.
  • Preparation and distribution of an induction pack.
  • Conducting (and getting signed off) two induction sessions with each person on the floor, primarily in group sessions but individually with those unable to attend sessions.

The induction sessions and the process of ensuring discussions noticeably changed the culture from ‘safety’ being the managers’ domain, to ‘safety’ being everyone’s right (and therefore responsibility). A School Safety Award of a letter of commendation from the Head of School and movie passes was well received. It was discovered that an escape route directed people to a locked door, which would have compromised their safety in the event of an evacuation. A further example of the improved safety awareness was when junior staff and students conducted their own audit of laboratories and decided that the work areas needed to be rearranged to physically separate various processes, reduce stock holdings and to store glassware in a more appropriate manner. After seeking permission, they formed self-organised groups and over three days (including a Saturday) completed the changes. It became apparent that the more that was done, the more it became obvious that further safety issues could be addressed. A great deal was achieved in terms of basic safety awareness and compliance, improved documentation and fostering a culture where safety is everyone’s right and responsibility.

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Nominations for individual awards

The four nominees were Mrs Lina Brunini (Co-ordinator for Dental Clinic Assistants at the School of Dentistry / Oral Health Centre of Western Australia (OHCWA) ), Professor Tim Sercombe (School of Mechanical Engineering), Mr Michael Smirk (Senior Research Officer, School of Earth and Environment) and Mr Bill Wilson (Scientific Officer, School of Earth and Environment).

Mrs Lina Brunini (Co-ordinator for Dental Clinic Assistants at the School of Dentistry / OHCWA)

Lina joined OHCWA in 2001. Following many years of practical experience as a Dental Clinic Assistant (DCA) her career progressed to a Supervisory position in March 2006. She works expediently and proactively in reviewing occupational safety and health in the work environment, particularly in tracking and analysing hazards and incidents, and consulting with the workforce. Specifically, her work on the subject of ‘repetitive tasks performed by DCAs’ has been outstanding. Her positive safety attributes includes:

  • Knowledge and practicality in finding solutions.
  • Positive communication style.
  • Creating opportunities to engage and consult with staff.
  • Providing ongoing support to injured staff and throughout return to work programs.
  • Research into other dental clinics to track and analyse relevant trends.
  • Encouraging staff participation in a group which can be difficult to engage and has many part time employees.
  • Promotes and ensures relevant staff attend safety related training such as UWA Safety and Health for Managers and Supervisors, Defibrillator/CPR training and warden training.
  • Considers ergonomic principles in equipment design such as her work into alginate mixing analysis.
  • Actively promotes and encourages a high standard of Infection Control practises in relation to the NHMRC Infection Control Guidelines for a Health Care Setting which relates to the Australian Standards.
  • Development of written policies, procedures and guidelines (e.g. maintenance of OHCWA Manual Handling Guidelines specific to the dental environment).

Professor Tim Sercombe (School of Mechanical Engineering)

Tim joined UWA in 2006 and since then has made a significant contribution to the organisation and structure of the School, including a large contribution to safety. As a new academic staff member with a heavy workload both in teaching and research, he has surprised many of his work colleagues by demonstrating interest and commitment to many challenging areas including safety. His natural organisational skills, knowledge and logical approach to problem solving, allow him to make sensible and well conceived decisions that have assisted the School in achieving its safety objectives. He contributed to the following elements of the School’s safety management system that supports safety initiatives based on consultation, forward planning, training of staff and students, hazard management and assessment of risk:

  • Chairing the School Safety Committee which meets monthly and having a large influence on the effectiveness of the committee decision making process.
  • Initialising and contributing to discussion and decisions on important safety issues.
  • Acting decisively and in a timely manner on all issues that need to be resolved with urgency.
  • Working effectively with senior management to develop and implement system change.
  • Interfacing productively with the UWA organisational structure to achieve the best outcomes possible to enhance safety at a School level.
  • Taking a keen interest in the outcomes from monthly safety Inspections and giving advice and making contributions as required by safety personnel.
  • Ongoing awareness and evaluation of the effectiveness of safety systems through observation, discussion and feedback.
  • Being a major contributor to the development of the School’s on-line Workshop Job Approval System and future directions the School will take in on-line system development.
  • Being a key participant in the review and approval of the growing number of Risk Assessments carried out in the School.
  • Being a valued reviewer of all safety reports generated within the School and consultant in the design and implementation of all new major safety initiatives.
  • Being a keen advocator of a HAZOP (hazard and operability study) approach for the identification of hazards in complex processes, and on each occasion has been a significant contributor to the outcome of the process.
  • Connecting well with students and fostering a focus and awareness of safety to help prepare graduates for their careers in industry.

Background information for the nominations for Michael Smirk and Bill Wilson (both of the School of Earth and Environment)

This is one of the largest Schools at UWA and it was formed in 2002 from the merger of Geology, Geography and Soil Science. It is a large, complex, laboratory and field based research intensive area where its research and teaching activities often involve potentially hazardous materials, equipment and environments. In the laboratory, staff and students deal with hazardous chemicals and equipment, including the digestion of a range of materials with hot mineral acids. The use of chemicals in processes present particular potential hazards that require a high level of safety awareness and care. Other potentially hazardous procedures encountered include high temperature sample fusions, handling of compressed gases, cryogenic liquids and toxic chemicals. Fieldwork is undertaken which involves a range of hazards including manual handling, off road and gravel driving, inclement weather and terrain, soil pits, mine sites and remoteness.

Mr Michael Smirk (Senior Research Officer)

Michael joined the University in 2000. His responsibilities include being the School Radiation Safety Officer, Section Safety Officer, ChemAlert System Administrator and Warden for the Agriculture South building. He also holds a WA Poisons Permit. Michael was previously nominated for an Individual Safety Award in 2005. He greatly contributed to high occupational safety and health standards through:

  • Being a member of the School Safety Committee.
  • Actively implements University safety initiatives, ensuring compliance with policies and procedures, including electrical equipment testing and tagging, field work procedures and conducting risk assessments on more hazardous tasks such as acid digestions.
  • Trains staff and students in safe laboratory practices and instrument usage.
  • Conducts safety inductions for Honours and Postgraduate students.
  • Undertakes safety inspections both within his own work area and within the School on a regular basis.
  • Undertakes bi-annual seminars on safety issues for staff.
  • Deals with safety issues in a prompt, diligent and efficient manner and has the support and respect of his colleagues.

Mr Bill Wilson (Scientific Officer)

Bill joined the University in 1981, has been an active Safety and Health Representative since 2000, School Safety Officer, Building Warden for the Geography/Geology building, Senior First Aid Officer, ChemAlert System Administrator and became known as the person to approach on any safety or health related issue. Bill was previously nominated for an Individual Safety Award in 2001. He greatly contributed to high occupational safety and health standards through:

  • Chair of the School Safety Committee.
  • Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) license holder.
  • Implementing rigorous procedures for the handling of hazardous substances such as hydrofluoric acid, perchloric acid and acetic anhydride.
  • Implemented rigorous procedures for the use and care of laboratory based equipment and processes.
  • Implemented four wheel driver training and fieldwork procedures.
  • Assisted with the School’s safety induction processes.
  • Deals with safety issues in a prompt, diligent and efficient manner and has the support and respect of his colleagues.

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Group safety award

This was awarded to the Building Services (Facilities Management).

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Individual safety award

This was awarded to Lina Brunini, Co-ordinator for Dental Clinic Assistants at the School of Dentistry and Oral Health Centre of Western Australia.

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Safety leadership award

This was awarded to Professor Tim Sercombe (Chair of the School of Mechanical Engineering Safety Committee).

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Safety recognition award

This was awarded to the UWA Business School for their safety related planning, resourcing and practice in relation to their move to the new building in early 2009.

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All nominees are thanked for their past, current and future efforts to improve the safety and health within their work areas. The UWA safety awards are an opportunity to demonstrate high achievements in safety and health by both groups and individuals and to share these achievements with others. The University greatly appreciates the kind sponsorship provided for the University Safety Awards by the University Co-operative Bookshop.

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