Safety, Health and Wellbeing

Safety awards 2012

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 2012 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 18 October by Winthrop Professor Bill Louden, Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor.

  1. Nomination 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. Finalists
  8. Acknowledgements
  9. Submissions

Nomination for group award

The School of Anatomy, Physiology and Human Biology

In January 2012 the discipline of Physiology merged with the School of Anatomy and Human Biology to form the School of Anatomy, Physiology and Human Biology. The merge required a substantial amount of work and change in order to establish and maintain a cohesive attitude and culture towards health and safety.

Notable activities have included:

  • Active School Safety Committee comprising Head of School, senior management, portfolio management, safety and health representatives, research and student representatives.
  • The School Safety Committee established significant targets in 2012 for chemical safety, radiation safety and electrical compliance, particularly within the Physiology building 346.
  • Prior to all committee meetings, a School wide call for agenda items is sent out, enabling all members of their community to have a “voice”, in addition all meeting agendas and ratified minutes are made available on the intranet.
  • During the Annual School Safety Week in March workplace inspections were held with staff from different buildings inspecting other locations. An objective of this was to get all staff involved in identifying and reporting hazards and to reinforce the mindset that health and safety is everyone’s responsibility.
  • A Document Working Group worked on preparing standard operating procedures, general risk assessments and chemical risk assessments in anticipation for WHS harmonisation and these documents were made available to other School personnel via a share-drive.
  • Redundant equipment and unwanted and hazardous chemicals were disposed of. The School has already spent over $35,000 on chemical disposal with more to go. Around 2,000 electrical equipment items needed to be added to the electrical testing schedule.
  • A review of liquid nitrogen holdings was made and six (6) “fridge” dewars were replaced with a single large capacity vapour phase tank which is connected to 240L supply tank. Expenses were incurred for anti-slip flooring, an oxygen monitor with visual and audible alarms - both inside and outside the room and a scavenging extraction system for nitrogen gas which is connected to the School’s Building Management System. The new system eliminated the manual handling risks from transporting 25L dewars to and from the Bayliss building.
  • The School maintains a very strict training and supervision system. The induction and training systems are tiered. Upon completion of the UWA Induction, staff/students then are required to complete inductions for specialty laboratories and associated courses relevant to the activities they are to undertake (e.g. PAWES, OGTR, Unsealed radioisotopes, Laboratory safety). Access to these areas is controlled via the Schools Cardax system and is granted upon completion of the relevant training and committee approvals.
  • Competency to work in designated areas has been established and recorded. Certain areas have specific workplace inductions and which contain hazardous equipment which may only be used by operators who have been formally verified as competent. Certain equipment (such as cryostats) can only to be used within core hours, being 8:30 am to 5:00 pm.
  • There is a current review of the handling of cadavers, looking at new lifting implements and racking systems to help eliminate injuries from the manual handling of cadavers.
  • Air monitoring for formaldehyde was undertaken in the Mortuary Dissection Rooms (DR) over a number of months, both empty and under full class scenarios and is ongoing.
  • An automated external defibrillator (AED) was secured for the main Anatomy building during core hours. This is transferred to the Sleep Science facility in Parkway where studies of potentially ‘at risk’ patients undergoing sleep apnoea studies are conducted overnight.,
  • The fire panels for the main Anatomy and CTEC buildings were combined and the fire indicator panel relocated to the front of the building to enable increased visibility and easier access for emergency personnel.

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Nominations for individual awards

The six nominees were Ms Alexis Baratsas (University Club), Ms Olivia Harper (Early Learning Centre, Child Care Services), Professor Melinda Hodkiewicz (Mechanical and Chemical Engineering), Mr Alan Luks (Plant Biology),  Ms Carmel McLeod (Animal Care Services) and Mr Michael Smirk (Earth and Environment).

Ms Alexis Baratsas (University Club)

Ms Alexis Baratsas is the Human Resources Manager, at the University Club of Western Australia. Alexis's safety and health related achievements have included:

  • Updating the Club’s Health and Safety Manual in accordance with impending new WHS legislations.
  • Reinstating regular meetings of the Club’s Health and Safety Committee.
  • Introducing a health and safety focus “Topic of the Month” – manual handling, slip and trip awareness, personal protective wear, etc.
  • Arranging a full access and disability audit and is in the process of actioning suggested improvements.
  • Introducing a Manual Handling Risk Management Plan, including training of management on such.
  • Successfully managed return to work plans for two long term workers’ compensation claims.
  • Including control of substances hazardous to health training as part of the induction for all new stewards.
  • Introducing a Skills Passport Program for new Food and Beverages staff which requires them to pass a manual handling competency test.
  • Updating the Club’s Fire Warden and First Aid Teams, all of which have undergone training..

Ms Olivia Harper (Early Learning Centre, Child Care Services)

Ms Olivia Harper, is the Director of the Early Learning Centre, Child Care Services. Olivia’s safety and health related achievements have included

  • Served as the Safety and Health Representative (SHR) for Child Care Services since 1999 and is the Building Warden for the UWA Early Learning Centre.
  • Is dedicated and pro-active in her role through the following activities: conducting incident investigations, implementing control measures, liaison with UWA Safety and Health on hazards identified, assisting with evacuation exercises, assisting with Warden training, following-up on issues from evacuation exercises, responding to fire alarms, organisation of the emergency control organisation of the building and regular reviewing policy and procedures in accordance with current regulations and standards.
  • First developed a Safety and Health Induction pack for Child Care employees in 2006, which included relevant child care issues on: safety and health policies and procedures (for both the UWA Child Care Centre and UWA Out of School Hours Care service), manual handling and occupational risks for child care workers, information on assistance programs, recording and development of safety related systems, and certificates required, in accordance with child care licensing and accreditation standards.
  • Developed and conducted regular auditing checklists for both services in regards to equipment, food safe and electrical tagging of appropriate equipment.
  • Regularly presents comprehensive in-house workshops on relevant changes and updates on child care related safety and health issues that keep staff well-informed and committed to the delivery of excellence in care for all staff and children of UWA Child Care Services.
  • Involved in the design and creation of the new UWA Early Learning Centre on the Nedlands campus and instigated, developed and followed up with safety and health related system and design issues during and after construction, which included the implementation of evacuation and emergency procedures (including lock down) and relevant signage.
  • Organised exercise rehabilitation for child care staff, recognising risk factors and creating management plan’s for manual handling tasks for child care staff. Also coordinates required child protection, anaphylaxis, asthma management and first aid training courses for all staff and is diligent that all staff maintain the currency of their first aid certificates and all information is up to date.

Olivia’s commitment and dedication to her role is to be highly commended and her continued involvement in developing safe practices and policies for UWA Child Care services is recognised and respected by all staff members and parents of the UWA Early Learning Centre.

Professor Melinda Hodkiewicz (Mechanical and Chemical Engineering)

There have been significant changes in the School of Mechanical and Chemical Engineering (SMCE) in the past two years with many key members of the previous School Safety Committee either leaving or seconded to other units within the Faculty. This has left a big task to re-create an active and effective School Safety Committee and to maintain the good practice and safety management within the School. Accompanying these have also been significant changes in research directions and activities within the School, embracing areas such as fuels and alternative energy, gas processing and CO2 sequestration, nanomaterials, laser technologies, and biomechanics and biological materials, and chemical engineering. These new research directions and activities, and the associated laboratory facilities, impose a work safety situation that is far more complex and challenging, both in terms of diversity and demand for expertise, compared to that of a traditional School of Mechanical Engineering.

Melinda took on the role of Chair of the School Safety Committee in July 2010 with the duty to form a new Safety Committee. Melinda has not only excelled in accomplishing the task but has also advocated a new safety awareness and safety management culture within the School. The main achievements may be summarised as following:

  • Created an active and effective School Safety Committee, nurtured a team of staff and students for safety management, and practiced clear leadership. The School Safety Committee is probably the most active within the Faculty.
  • Established new Terms of Reference for the School Safety Committee.
  • Developed a range of safety management policies, procedures and guidelines, e.g., (i) chemical ordering procedure map (ii) laboratory safety inspection procedure and form (iii) risk assessment procedure and form and (iv) audit for safe shutdown of equipment in an emergency. These activities are leading the progress of safety management within the Faculty.
  • Established four safety management strategic initiatives including (i) safety induction (ii) regular laboratory inspections (iii) risk assessments and (iv) School Safety website.
  • Established a new laboratory safety inspection practice that involves joint effort between the inspector and the laboratory supervisor. This creates a new culture of collaboration and cooperation in laboratory safety management.
  • Conducted safety induction workshop for Higher Degree Research (HDR) students.
  • Completed training for First Aid Officers, Wardens and ChemAlert.
  • Made several safety awareness and safety culture presentations at School meetings.
  • Completed a number of major safety management tasks, including (i) moving out Motorsport of SMCE, (ii) completed safety signage for laboratories and storage areas (iii) conducted ChemAlert update for laboratories (iv) implementation of the Chemical Ordering Process Map to streamline ordering and compliance (v) clearing out of Flammable Liquids Store and installing appropriate signs (vi) clearing out the Mineral Processing Storage Shed (vii) removal of the boiler for re-development of the area and (viii) updating School Safety website (in progress)..

Whilst Melinda’s own work does not involve significant hazards, she is diligent in learning and improving on her own safety management expertise and skills. She always responds to safety issues in a timely and responsible manner, advocating and promoting a collaborative approach to handling safety issues.

Mr Alan Luks (Plant Biology)

Mr Alan Luks is the School Manager in the School of Plant Biology. Alan’s notable safety and health related achievements have included:

  • Served as School Safety Officer and Building Warden both currently in Plant Biology and previously when employed in other areas of the University.
  • Has demonstrated his long term dedication, commitment and leadership on safety and health matters including in relation to the use of vehicles, fieldwork, diving, boating and plant houses.
  • With many staff and students working in remote locations initiated the use of SPOT devices (similar to a personal EPIRB) throughout Plant Biology and has been active in their promotion to other University Schools conducting fieldwork.
  • In response to a recent motor vehicle incident and roll over he prepared a School of Plant Biology Vehicle Policy with relevant information on Towing Trailers – Things you should know. It became School Policy that all persons needing to use a four wheel drive vehicle must complete both a defensive driver and a four wheel driver approved training course.
  • Served as the UMG Representative on the University Safety Committee since April 2011.

Ms Carmel McLeod (Biomedical Research Facility, Animal Care Services

Ms Carmel McLeod is a Senior Technician-in-charge at the Biomedical Research Facility (BRF), Animal Care Services.

Carmel is an approachable and committed staff member at BRF. She has been a Safety and Health Representative for Animal Care Services for over two years and consistently demonstrates a positive approach to safety, injury management and the well-being of staff. Notable achievements include:

  • Carmel is proficient at conducting incident investigations and undertaking risk assessments.
  • Oversees training programs for staff such as manual task training and liaising with the trainer on workplace hazards relating to manual handling.
  • Considers the unique needs of staff and how these can be managed within the work area.
  • Has fostered a positive culture to injury management strategies in the work area and reporting of injuries.
  • Dedication to health and injury prevention programs for staff, such as back care.

Carmel is a valued member of the BRF team and her nomination for an individual award is to recognise her special efforts towards safety and health.

Mr Michael Smirk

Mr Michael Smirk has been employed as a Senior Research Officer within the Soil Science discipline of the School of Earth and Environment (SEE) since February 2000. In this role he has been heavily involved in laboratory based work with undergraduate and post graduate students, research staff, visiting scientists and academic staff. He has extensive experience in laboratory work, often requiring safe handling and usage of corrosive and hazardous chemicals in many different scenarios requiring significant consideration of safe work planning and hazard management. These practical skills in safety management implementation ensure research work is undertaken with the appropriate safeguards considered.

Michael is a Safety and Health Representative who takes a proactive role in all accident and incident investigations in the School, ensuring they are dealt with in a timely manner. He maintains a methodical, investigative approach to reviewing incidents to ensure root causes are identified and appropriate modifications to systems of work are implemented and documented as required.

Notable achievements include:

  • Safety meetings and on-going safety management activities such as annual clean-ups and area inspections are coordinated, actioned and reviewed.
  • New and/or particularly relevant University policies are presented and discussed with a focus on successful implementation.
  • Identifying hazardous procedures, comprehensively risk assessing these and implementing and reviewing the control measures.
  • Conducting and reviewing training to ensure staff and students are adequately prepared for tasks. As much laboratory work requires careful observation and practical application, short videos and colour posters demonstrating safe working procedures have been implemented and made available at point of use to complement and reinforce training already given to staff and students.
  • Introducing laboratory safety files to individual research groups within the Soil Science Discipline. These have become a significant safety resource and reference for laboratory users and managers. They provide valuable information such as the latest codes on chemical labelling requirements and advice on chemical disposal. Additionally, they serve as a repository for standard laboratory protocols and standard operating procedures for methods and equipment in that area as well as providing a centralised location for the documentation of training and induction records.

Michael’s commitment to safety in the workplace is clearly evident by his willingness to be involved at all levels. From consultation and training in the laboratory with staff and students, Michael can readily gain an appreciation of issues and draw upon his experience to provide practical solutions. Mindful of the importance of safety related administrative processes, he strives to ensure such processes are achievable, obtain the desired outcome, and satisfy the requirements of safety and health regulations. Leadership through driving the safety committee ensures safety is of paramount consideration in any of the activities undertaken in the Soil Science Discipline of the School of Earth and Environment.

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Group safety award

The 2012 Group Safety Award was awarded to the School of Anatomy, Physiology and Human Biology for its strong safety and health focus and programs and the recent incorporation of these into the discipline of Physiology.

The School of Anatomy, Physiology and Human Biology received a framed certificate and gift voucher sponsored by the University Co-operative Bookshop.

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Individual safety award

The Individual Safety Award is to acknowledge outstanding contributions by individual University employees in establishing and maintaining high standards of occupational safety and health activities and achievements within the University.

The contributions to workplace safety may be at a University, Faculty, School or Section level and have occurred or were maintained since 2011. Evaluation took into account the different circumstances of the work areas.

The 2012 Individual Safety Award was awarded to Olivia Harper for her long-standing dedicated commitment, leadership and excellent service to the safety, health and well-being of staff and children at UWA Child Care Services.

Olivia received a framed certificate, gift voucher sponsored by the University Co-operative Bookshop and a UWA Calendar 2013

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Safety leadership award

The Safety Leadership Award is to recognise heads, managers or supervisors for their efforts to improve or sustain high safety standards either at a Business Unit or at a Corporate level.

The 2012 Safety Leadership Award was awarded to Professor Melinda Hodkiewicz for her excellent leadership, personal diligence and many safety management achievements as Chair of the Safety Committee of the School of Mechanical and Chemical Engineering.

Melinda received a framed certificate, gift voucher sponsored by the University Co-operative Bookshop and a UWA Calendar 2013.

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Safety recognition award

No specific criteria were required for this award and the Selection Panel used its discretion in awarding this based on all nominations received.

The 2012 Safety Recognition Award was awarded to Michael Smirk for his long standing commitment, leadership and practical assistance he provides to staff and students for laboratory safety and chemical safety within the School of Earth and Environment.

Michael received a framed certificate, gift voucher sponsored by the University Co-operative Bookshop and a UWA Calendar 2013.

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No specific criteria were required for this award and the Selection Panel used its discretion in awarding this based on all nominations received.

The three Finalists each received a framed certificate and UWA Calendar 2013.

  • Ms Alexis Baratsas, Finalist for the Safety Recognition Award.
  • Mr Alan Luks, Finalist for the Safety Leadership Award.
  • Ms Carmel McLeod, Finalist for the Individual Award.

Nominees were thanked for their past, current and future efforts to improve the safety and health within their work areas.

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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. Congratulations to those nominated for their efforts and achievements.

2012 has been a busy year as we, and other organisations, prepare for the Work Health and Safety Harmonisation where the Commonwealth, State and Territories will have closely aligned OHS legislations. This will require management to be proactively addressing work health and safety. Officers will be required to demonstrate due diligence and will require the assistance of all workers to be safety conscious and actively identifying, assessing and controlling work hazards and be able to demonstrate that this occurs.,

Closing thanks were made to:

  • Winthrop Professor Bill Louden and the Vice-Chancellery for their ongoing support of the University safety, health and well-being programs
  • The nominees – all of who are very deserving of recognition
  • Safety and Health for arranging the UWA Safety Awards
  • University Co-operative Bookshop for their ongoing sponsorship of the awards
  • UWA News for their article on the awards (page 12)
  • All who attended the awards function.

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