House debates

Thursday, 28 October 2010


Safe Work ACT Awards

12:45 pm

Photo of Gai BrodtmannGai Brodtmann (Canberra, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to congratulate the winners of the Safe Work ACT Awards recently announced in Canberra. Work safety is vital for the health, wellbeing and peace of mind of Canberra’s workers and their families. It is also vital for workplace and national productivity. We want our workers to return home safe and well to their families each day and we want our businesses to grow and thrive with healthy workers and productive and safe workplaces and practices. That is why I commend the Canberra businesses that took out these awards.

Congratulations to the ACT Department of Education and Training for winning the best workplace health and safety management system award for the public sector. The department identified a system for managing the risks associated with construction work on school sites to ensure children and workers are safe. Congratulations to the National Capital Private Hospital for winning the best workplace health and safety management system for the private sector. Work safety practices can only succeed if they become business as usual. The hospital has embedded safety systems into its day-to-day activities which have been enthusiastically embraced by staff. External audits have also endorsed the safety system and statistical analysis has shown that risk has been alleviated.

Congratulations to St John Ambulance Australia for winning the best solution to an identified health and safety issue. St John Ambulance developed an innovative iPhone application that gives ready access to first aid information and resuscitation. Now people can apply the right treatment wherever they are. Congratulations to Sasha Berryman and Amy Lee for winning the best individual contribution to health and safety for the non-occupational health and safety category. Sasha Berryman has developed a list of processes that have simplified safety management in ACT Health’s surgical services unit and Amy Lee implemented Multiple Sclerosis Australia’s safety management system by modelling good practice, which is really important, and mentoring other staff.

Congratulations to the Hyatt Hotel Canberra for winning the most successful promotion of occupational health and safety in workplaces award. The Hyatt’s red dot system uses visual tools to communicate to staff, many of whom are from non-English-speaking backgrounds, the risks associated with moving equipment. Congratulations to James Bodsworth from Bovis Lend Lease for winning best individual contribution to health and safety in the occupational health and safety division. James developed an innovative and simple strategy for plant operators to detect underground utilities. James also won the overall title, the SafeWork Australia Excellence Award 2010. Well done, James. Unfortunately, I do not have time to congratulate all the winners of these awards, but I commend all the entrants and their efforts to make workplaces safer in Canberra.

The Gillard government is strongly committed to workplace safety. The government’s commitment to the model occupational health and safety laws expands on Labor’s longstanding belief in fair and safe working conditions for all Australians. The harmonised approach includes: an unqualified obligation on employers to provide a safe workplace for their staff and a broad approach to the duty of care; an increase in penalties for the most serious breaches of workplace safety to a new maximum of $3 million and five years imprisonment for corporations and a $600,000 fine for individuals; and a capacity for regulators to share evidence across multiple jurisdictions that will significantly enhance the ability of regulators. It also includes providing health and safety representatives with the power to issue provisional improvement notices and direct the cessation of unsafe work, a power currently only available in three jurisdictions. It also includes ensuring uniform cease-work provisions in each jurisdiction. This harmonised approach broadens the entitlement to cease unsafe work to employees and other kinds of workers such as contractors, which is really important. Currently, the power of workers to stop unsafe work is only available to 14.5 per cent of the Australian workforce. It also includes a requirement for employers to consult employees over work related matters that affect their health and safety.

The Gillard government takes workplace safety seriously and so do many Canberra businesses, as these awards show. Congratulations to all the winners and participants of the Safe Work ACT Awards. You are creating a safer and healthier workplace for all Canberrans, and I applaud you.