Proactive safety culture recognised

Published on SGT Dave Morley (author), Mrs Lauren Larking (photographer)

Deputy Secretary Defence People Group Ms Rebecca Skinner with Vice Chief of the Defence Force Vice Admiral Ray Griggs presents Leading Seaman Adam Cross from HMAS Penguin with a Commendation Certificate for his work on
Deputy Secretary Defence People Group Ms Rebecca Skinner with Vice Chief of the Defence Force Vice Admiral Ray Griggs presents Leading Seaman Adam Cross from HMAS Penguin with a Commendation Certificate for his work on "The reduction of poor hazardous chemical usage and storage practices" at the 2015 Defence Work Health and Safety Awards at Russell Offices, Canberra.

A sailor, who left the permanent Navy on 5 January this year, spent his first day working as a reservist accepting a Work, Health and Safety award from the Vice Chief of the Defence Force, Vice Admiral Ray Griggs.

Leading Seaman Boatswains Mate Adam Cross received a commendation certificate for his role in the “reduction of poor hazardous chemical usage and storage practices” at HMAS Penguin.

He said it was a great honour to receive the award.

“It’s always good to get recognition and to see everyone else who was recognised at the awards ceremony,” he said.

Leading Seaman Cross was offered the job of Hazardous Chemicals Supervisor in late 2013 after the position had been vacant since 2011.

He said he wanted a challenge so he took it on.

“The job was a rank above me, but there was no one else there to do the job and I was the next best thing,” he said.

“I had no qualifications so I was learning from scratch.

“I really committed myself to the job and people at the base appreciated me helping them and teaching them what processes we needed to do to make the place a safer place to work.

“It made me feel good to be given the opportunity to make things better at Penguin.”

Vice Admiral Griggs noted there had been significant reductions in injuries among Austalian Defence Force members in recent times.

“The nature of the work we do in Defence is inherently challenging and as such our focus on safety must be an intrinsic one,” he said.

“What the awards system does, is help keep safety at the forefront of people’s minds.

“It’s part of building a proactive rather than a compliance-based safety culture.”

The 12th Defence Work Health and Safety Awards held at Russell on 12 March recognised contributions from 23 individuals and groups across Defence.

Director General Work, Health and Safety Branch Lindsay Kranz said the presentation highlighted the achievements of some especially talented Defence people.

“Through these talented people Defence is also recognised for its outstanding achievements in safety throughout the Commonwealth,” he said.

Navy Award Winners

HMAS Perth personnel – healthy lifestyle initiative 

Facing a long time at sea during their Middle East deployment last year, the ship’s company of HMAS Perth approached the fitness and medical team on board to support their personal health goals for the deployment. To encourage participation and maintain motivation within the crew, the Chief Petty Officer Physical Trainer and Chief Petty Officer Medic implemented a ‘biggest loser’ style competition. The start date was the first day of sailing and consisted of four teams. The combined total starting weight of the 27 personnel was 2,616kg; the main driving forces were regular fitness sessions and dietary education. The total combined weight loss after 12 weeks was 6.3kg per person; the ‘biggest loser’ lost 16.7kg. The program can be continued by personnel and can be used across all Navy ships.

HMAS Darwin, Narcotics Disposal Unit           
While deployed on Operation SLIPPER, the crew of HMAS Darwin seized several large caches of illegal narcotics; predominately heroin and hashish. Best practice standard operating procedures for disposal of narcotics involved casting the narcotics overboard, and required stringent personal protective equipment and limited personnel involved. Chief Petty Officer Anthony Walsh and Petty Officer Craig McCloy identified the need for an alternate method for disposing the narcotics due to the large amount of airborne particles. The solution had to be relatively simple and cost effective. A ‘wheelie bin’ and a locally manufactured ring sprayer were constructed using readily accessible materials. The narcotics are now fed into a disposal unit whereby water jets dissolve the narcotics and discharge the resultant slurry overboard.

Maritime Safety Bureau and the Training Technology Support Unit – improved electrical safety awareness

Due to an increase in reported electrical safety incidents, an Electrical Safety Awareness package was developed within Maritime Safety Bureau and other Fleet resources. The package includes a comprehensive appreciation of the hazards of electricity in the workplace and was produced by the Training Technology Support Unit. The package was used as the focus of a Navy Safety Stand-down on electrical safety in 2014 and as a resource in the wider Defence arena.

Hazardous chemical usage and storage practices at HMAS Penguin

Due to the absence of a Command Safety Adviser at HMAS Penguin for a two-year period, there were shortcomings in safety compliance. In late 2013, Leading Seaman Cross accepted the role of Hazardous Chemicals Supervisor. With minimal guidance and direction Leading Seaman Cross took corrective action to rejuvenate hazardous chemical management base wide. This action involved unit and storage inspections, command reporting, tasking of required corrective action and the generation and communication of comprehensive base level policy. Leading Seaman Cross also drafted a comprehensive Commanding Officer Directive which has provided all units with an excellent guide for hazardous chemical management.  

Improvement to communications and incident reporting         

The process for notifying Work, Health and Safety incidents to the Commonwealth of Australia was inconsistent as the Joint Services Procedure between Defence Material Organisation and Australian Submarine Corporation was in its infancy. The challenge was to correctly capture and report all Work, Health and Safety incidents that occur at Australian Submarine Corporation and associated contractors. Able Seaman Wade Hardie developed comprehensive direct liaisons and communications providing stakeholders a useful and efficient process for incident reporting. As additional duties, Able Seaman Hardie attends Work, Health and Safety boards as the Navy representative and provides direct reporting to Command on all site incidents. The system would be beneficial for any similar department, organisation or industry where there are numerous stakeholders working on the same site.

More images available at the Defence Image Gallery