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Systems overhaul promotes work safety and productivity

An Ipswich company initially daunted by the prospect of overhauling its work safety systems has totally revamped its workplace, making it safer and more productive for everyone.

Medium sized employer Australian Water Engineers (AWE) Pty Ltd said working with the Queensland Government’s Injury Prevention and Management Program (IPaM) had helped the company take back control of what seemed like an exhausting process.

AWE specialises in the design, manufacture, installation and testing of water control products. Its customer base ranges from small businesses to major infrastructure projects for local and state government authorities.

The company realised it needed to update its safety and injury management systems and that’s where IPaM was able to help. A joint initiative of WorkCover Queensland and Workplace Health and Safety Queensland, IPaM is free and available to any Queensland employer with a WorkCover Queensland policy, regardless of size or business maturity.

AWE self-referred to participate in IPaM because they realised that as the company had grown, their safety policies, procedures and processes had developed in an ad-hoc way rather than as an integrated system.

Working with IPaM, existing policies, procedures and processes were reviewed to identify what worked well and to build on these. The focus then turned to developing the systems and training through consultation with workers.

AWE says having independent advice and a detailed action plan has helped it carry out the changes needed, including:

  • a review and update of the site induction process
  • implementation of consultation processes
  • implementation of a traffic management plan
  • assessment of welding and hazardous substances use
  • risk assessment and development of safe work procedures for work tasks
  • comprehensive risk assessment of new plant prior to introduction to the workplace
  • introduction of a verification of competency process
  • completion of a training register
  • development of rehab process for injured workers.

The change took a year, with a key achievement being improved consultation processes and increased worker input and interest in safety matters.

“The IPaM program has stepped us through our Safety Management System at a controlled and manageable pace and steered our ship back onto course,’’ Operations Manager Chris Nelson said.

“It brings the realisation to the leadership team that it’s all about getting the workforce involved.’’AWE’s Chris Nelson (operations manager, left) and MD Mark La Forest and their IPaM recognition.

AWE’s Chris Nelson (operations manager, left) and MD Mark La Forest and their IPaM recognition.