City of Rockingham honours innovative solutions at its first WHS awards

Risk Matters - Summer 2024

The safety realm is full of procedures, policies and regulations telling people what to do; it’s great when we see members, like the City of Rockingham, stepping back and celebrating their safety achievements. It’s important to focus on success as well as the areas for improvement.

Congratulations to the City of Rockingham on their inaugural Work, Health and Safety Awards. Held on 5 October 2023, the ceremony saw outstanding participation from the City staff. The awards are an important initiative to recognise the people and teams who contribute to safety at the City.

As part of their 2021 Work Health and Safety Strategy – ‘Work Safe, Go Home Safe’, which aimed to develop a safety-first culture, the City focussed on recognising and celebrating health and safety achievements within the organisation.

Some of the initiatives of the strategy were also recognised by WorkSafe as best practice with the City winning the inaugural best intervention to address a psychological hazard in the workplace in 2022.

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The City had a diverse field of 12 finalists for the WHS Awards, with nominations ranging from engineering solutions that prevent injuries when lifting heavy objects, to dealing with difficult customers face-to-face.

A broad range of teams were featured and included entries from the City’s libraries, park services, community and leisure facilities, compliance and emergency liaison, youth centre and technical services teams.

The WHS Awards are a fantastic way to acknowledge the efforts of staff who are making the City a safer place to work, and it is intended that the WHS Awards will become an annual event held in conjunction with National Safe Work Month each October. The awards have enabled us to profile some of the great work occurring within the WHS space. Not only do they provide well deserved recognition for the winners, they also inspire colleagues along our safety improvement journey.

– Michael Parker, CEO at City of Rockingham

The awards recognised innovative solutions under three categories –

1. Best solution for a workplace hazard – individual or team award

This award recognised excellence in developing and implementing a solution to an identified health and safety issue. There were two winners under this category.

David Latham, Irrigation Supervisor at the City was one of the joint winners. He proactively identified a safety risk when planting trees. Due to the unavailability of tree pots with handles, the worker identified manual handling issues and concerns while moving large trees.

David identified a solution that enabled staff to grip and carry the weight of the tree pots evenly to reduce the risk of injury.
He sketched a design, and worked with a local metal fabricator to produce some prototype handles. Group discussions took place with staff, and a new safe operating procedure was developed. To clearly communicate this change to everyone involved in tree planting, an occupational physiotherapist attended the site to
go through the new process with staff doing the work. Since the changes were introduced, many trees have been successfully planted with no new manual handling incidents reported.

Another winner under this category was the City’s Library Services team, who developed a program to support staff when exposed to aggressive or abusive behaviour from patrons.
The program incorporated proactive strategies to equip staff with knowledge and techniques to de-escalate situations
and effectively deal with patrons who demonstrate such behaviour. The initiative has demonstrated positive
results with staff feeling confident in dealing with
such situations.

2. Best team contribution to improving WHS – team award

This award recognised the establishment, improvement and/or maintenance of WHS practices by an established work team or a working group.

Rockingham Youth Centre (RYC) was recognised for the successful delivery of their Youth Beach Party event at the Rockingham Foreshore. The event included several inflatable components, which meant that it was impacted by recently introduced legislation and safety standards in relation to inflatable amusement devices (what most of us know as ‘bouncy castles’). Being an outside event close to the beach meant exposure to risks such as wind speeds and varying weather conditions. The RYC team’s efforts to ensure effective and best practice risk assessment meant they were able to provide a safe and successful event for more than 750 young people. They also provided additional safety information to parents of attendees to help alleviate their concerns.

3. CEO’s Safety and leadership award – individual award

This award recognised initiatives to establish improve, inspire and maintain best practice in health and safety by an employee, at any level in the organisation.

There were two winners for this award – one member from Park Services while the other from Library Services.

Lindsay Bickley from the City’s Park Services demonstrated an ongoing commitment to safety and was not shy about having WHS conversations with all other City employees. He is always willing to listen and learn when something doesn’t feel safe to him. His interactions with staff are always respectful and his ultimate goal is to make sure everyone goes home safe at the end of the day.

Alison Oliver from the Library Services was also recognised for consistently being instrumental in incorporating innovative and contemporary approaches to support services for an inclusive community while ensuring safety remains paramount.

LGIS was proud to support the City of Rockingham’s inaugural awards and appreciates its efforts towards their commitment to identify workplace hazards and find new solutions to mitigate them. LGIS People Risk Manager, Emma Horsefield was on the judging panel along with City of Rockingham CEO, Michael Parker, and Director Legal Services and

General Counsel, Peter Doherty.

Being asked to be a judge for the City’s Safety awards was a huge privilege and I jumped at the chance to be involved in such a fabulous initiative. I have worked with the City for a number of years and to watch their transformation has been incredible.

– Emma Horsefield, LGIS People Risk Manager

Talking about the submissions, Emma expressed her joy over the calibre of the submissions. She said “the entries were exceptional, demonstrating many innovative and thought provoking safety initiatives”.

“As a safety professional, all we want is to see attributes like communication, consultation, empowerment, and leadership and support. All of these were present and standing proud, showing that when supported by management with a level of commitment, fantastic things can be achieved,” Emma said.

The Work Health and Safety Awards 2023 were the first time the City has collectively recognised and celebrated such achievements.

Congratulations to the City of Rockingham for supporting, encouraging and celebrating their people and commitment to safety.

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