HMAS Harman, 723 Squadron, the Submarine Force and HMAS Success were among the winners at the 11th Navy Safety awards held at the Royal Australian Heritage Centre, Garden Island, Sydney, in late October.
The safety awards recognise and reward personnel and organisations that make a conspicuous and positive contribution to safety. They also reinforced that safety-related events can affect Navy’s capacity to deliver and also have a lasting impact on Navy, Defence and the community in general.
Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Tim Barrett, said his aim was to develop a culture which proactively evaluated hazards and risks and managed them through the reasonable application of effective controls.
“This does not prevent people from fulfilling their tasks, but ensures actions are effective and improves confidence to safely achieve outcomes,” Vice Admiral Barrett said.
“Safety isn't formalised or analytical, it is all about how we think in ourselves in a generative sense, how we want ourselves and others to be safe.
“If you think of it in those terms you start to think beyond just the individual placement, the rules and the compliance and you actually think about how you live and how you work - it is about yourself but it's also about those around you.”
Harman was the category one winner with their ‘Staying Connected’ program.
Their innovative program focuses on creating events to promote the wellbeing of local Canberra Defence personnel. The program raises awareness of local support agencies and provides networking opportunities for personnel across the Canberra region.
Executive Officer HMAS Harman, Lieutenant Commander Kristen Watts, said while Harman had won safety awards previously, it had never won in this category.
“At Harman we have no ships, aircraft, wharves or cranes, but we do have people and people capability is what we contribute to Navy,” Lieutenant Commander Watts said.
“Commanding Officer Harman exercises administrative command over about 1400 Navy people of all ranks, dispersed across various functional commands in Canberra and overseas.
“The Harman command team administering this significant number of personnel consists of only 20 members.
“The ‘Staying Connected’ program is all about addressing these issues, getting people to network together in a social environment and in impacting positively upon the mental health and wellbeing of members.”
She said being recognised meant Harman was making a difference with respect to the wellbeing of Navy people.
“The program goes to the core of Navy values by specifically addressing all people values - respecting the contribution of every individual, promoting the wellbeing and development of all Navy people and communicating well and regularly.
“We are also strengthening relationships across and beyond Navy.”
Able Seaman Aviation Technician Aircraft Michael Harwood, of 723 Squadron, received the category two award for his efforts in establishing a comprehensive hazardous chemicals management system.
His work improves awareness of hazardous chemical procedures which results in a safer workplace for all and a cost saving, due to reduced waste.
Able Seaman Harwood said he was honoured and surprised at winning the category.
“I was aware that there would be a high level of competition for an award such as this,” Able Seaman Harwood said.
He said the award recognised and acknowledged the high standard 723 Squadron strived for in the area of Work Health and Safety (WHS) management.
“WHS is often quoted as ‘doing everything possible to get personnel home to their families at the end of the day’,” Able Seaman Harwood said.
“HAZCHEM safety also needs to look to the future as issues can come up 20-50 years from now.”
Petty Officer Marine Technician Nathan Ginger of HMAS Success was awarded the Category Six individual award for the initiation of training and hazard analysis in order to ensure the safe delivery of operational effects in a safe environment.
After a period of deep maintenance and high crew changeover, Petty Officer Ginger proactively reviewed what was required of his Cargo Work Centre team and implemented changes.
His level of initiative and drive extended beyond his own team to benefit and encourage improvements more broadly across Success.
In congratulating the winners, Vice Admiral Barrett said there were many people within Navy with the desire and drive to improve the way we did business.
“There are some recipients today who we acknowledge have been able to take that forward," Vice Admiral Barrett said.
“Safety starts with us every single day. It doesn't just stop at these awards - we each have a part to play in our own way to improve the lives of all of us both in our workplace and at home.”
This year's Navy Safety Awards included a presentation from guest speaker Dianne King.
Ms King is a senior leader and chartered professional in occupational health and safety as well as an adult educator, who has been in the unfortunate position of experiencing personal loss when safety doesn't work well.
Ms King shared her story of the diagnosis of her husband in 1998 with acute myeloid leukaemia and his subsequent treatment to fight the disease.
After four years battling the disease, Lieutenant Craig King, 38, died in 2002, leaving behind Dianne and two children.
“Within one week, Craig went from leading a normal life, to being in the oncology unit of Wollongong hospital under the care of two haematologists,” Ms King said.
She has since dedicated herself to working with organisations and industries to better understand safety and how it can be applied to make a safer workplace for all.
“The key to successfully embedding and integrating health and safety into the work lifecycle is managers being leaders,” Ms King said.
“I've seen some excellent examples of managers who lead health and safety in their business area to achieve amazing outcomes.
“For example, someone may identify a problem, a suitable solution is agreed and the leader ensures this solution is implemented and communicated.”
The Navy Safety Award scheme was introduced in 2004.