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Webinar series

Electricity Safety Week

Taking place from 7-11 September 2020, Electricity Safety Week held three online events, tailored for industry leaders, electrical workers, contractors and apprentices.

Electricity Safety Week 2020

Dave Burt, Master Electricians New Zealand

Hear from Dave Burt, Board member for Master Electricians New Zealand who talked about his struggle with depression while working in the electrical industry. Dave discussed how to normalise conversations and change the culture around mental wellbeing in the industry.

Chris Bombolas:

Hello and welcome to the Electricity Safety Summit for 2020. I'm Chris Bombolas from the Office of Industrial Relations. I'll be your host for this very special presentation. It is Electrical Safety Week. And it happens from the 7 to the 11 of September, and it reminds us all that while electricity helps power up our everyday lives, it can be dangerous. The ESO is hosting free digital events focusing on health and safety in the industry, particularly mental health. These events are tailored for industry leaders, electrical workers, contractors, and apprentices. The Electrical Safety Summit is on today and we'll be getting to our very special guests very, very shortly. Tomorrow we have a webinar for electrical contractors and electricians featuring football legend and Australian survivor champion, Matt Rogers, who will discuss challenges he's faced including how he manages stress and personal loss. And on Thursday, the boys from Aussie workwear brand TradeMutt, Dan and Ed, look at stigmas around mental health during a digital session, especially for apprentices and supervisors.

Chris Bombolas:

Today, though is the fourth Electricity Safety Summit following on from a great event last year, where we focused on safety culture in the workplace, it's a shame we can't gather in person like we normally do. However, as we continue to navigate these very extraordinary times, it's fantastic that we can still catch up digitally and make sure that we can have presentations and deliver very important information like we are today. Today, we will be delving deeply into electrical safety in rural and regional Queensland. I'd like to acknowledge Craig Allen, Deputy Director General of the Office of Industrial Relations. Greg Skyring, Commissioner for Electrical Safety in Queensland, Donna Heelan, the Executive Director, Electrical Safety Office, and our guest speakers situated in all different regions of Queensland, including Cairns and Brisbane and across the Tasman in New Zealand.

Chris Bombolas:

So we do have a number of people and guests to get through. If you have any questions throughout the Summit, type your name and question via the chat box to the right of the live stream. We'll ask them during the panel session, which will happen at the end of our presentations. To change the size of your screen, select the four small arrows next to the volume bar at the bottom of your screen. Firstly, I'd like to welcome Craig Allen, the Deputy Director General, Office of Industrial Relations. He joins us in the studio for the official welcome.

Craig Allen:

Welcome to everyone today. Firstly, I would like to respectfully acknowledge the traditional owners and custodians of the land on which we meet and elders past, present and emerging. I'd also like to acknowledge Greg Skyring, Queensland commissioner for electrical safety, Dona Heelan, Executive Director, Electrical Safety Office and members of her team. Our speakers, Dave Burt from Master Electricians, New Zealand. Michelle Taylor from Energy Queensland, Leo Ward from Power and Data Support Services and Christine King from Queensland Country Women's Association. Representatives from industry groups such as the Electrical Trades Union, the National Electrical and Communications Association and Master Electricians Australia and everyone else interested in electrical safety who has dialled in this morning. Again, welcome and hello everyone.

Craig Allen:

These are certainly extraordinary times with parts of Australia in lockdown to control the spread of coronavirus. So far, Queenslanders have done a great job battling COVID-19, but as we continued to deal with the pandemic, this is an Electrical Safety Summit like no other. This year's digital event focuses on a serious issue, electrical safety in rural and regional Queensland. Unfortunately we've seen a number of electrical fatalities and incidents over the past two years in rural Queensland. Often these tragedies involve contact with overhead power lines between machinery or equipment and a failure to properly maintain electrical gear. That's why it's important we have industry gatherings like this annual safety summit to discuss emerging trends and to identify issues which need our urgent attention. As the Deputy Director General of the Office of Industrial Relations thank you for all of your efforts to help us deliver potentially lifesaving messages to the general community and those working in our industry.

Craig Allen:

As you're all aware so much risk can be avoided by taking very basic actions. Yet tragically eight Queenslanders have lost their lives over recent years after receiving electrical shocks while doing everyday things, these people were just doing simple things in and around their homes, digging a hole in the garden, working in the garage, returning to the house after picking fruit, walking around under a high sat house and checking submersible pumps. Clearly the message is not getting through as industry leaders we have to work harder and look at new ways to make sure everyone is fully aware of the dangers of electricity. It's not just the fatalities in our industry. It's the people that are injured in our industry. People who experienced severe arc burns, they have issues for the rest of their lives. So whilst we talk about eight fatalities, which is a number that we can't accept, there are many, many, many hundreds of other injuries that occur in our industry every year.

Craig Allen:

People using everyday appliances and any equipment that powers up workers need to be aware. The Electrical Safety Office has run campaigns, which promote the dangers of working in ceiling spaces, regular electrical housekeeping, using only licensed electrical contractors and installing safety switches on all circuits. It's no fan that at the Electrical Safety Office we're a big fan of safety switches. They're a life-saving device and they're an important device. There's also loads of information on our website on electrical safety for tenants and landlords, regular electrical housekeeping, working near overhead power lines, purchasing and maintaining electrical equipment. And of course most importantly only using licensed electrical contractors.

Craig Allen:

Electrical work is not a do it yourself job. We want to get these important messages out into the community and get everyone thinking and living electrical safety. Make no mistake electricity is an invisible and silent killer and it rarely gives second chances. We're in Electrical Safety Week and as part of that, we are hosting a webinar for electrical contractors tomorrow featuring footy legend, Matt Rogers. On Thursday there's another webinar for apprentices and their supervisors where arc flash survivor Mark will share his harrowing experience. These events are digital and free targeted at key personnel in our industry with people like Mark and Matt Rogers and TradeMutt's, Dan and Ed on board to deliver key messages. For the moment though, I hope you enjoy the Summit and the speakers we have on offer and thank you for making your time available today.

Chris Bombolas:

Thanks Craig. As Craig touched on in his address, there have been a number of tragic incidents in regional and rural Queensland recently. And that's why our Summit this year is focusing on that particular issue. Time now to bring in the first of our presenters and we're going to have to head across the ditch to Tasmania, Auckland in fact. And we welcome in Dave Burt. Dave is a registered electrician and the owner and director of Team Cabling that operates in Auckland, Waikato, Wellington and Christchurch. He's also an immediate past board member of Master Electricians, New Zealand. Dave published a book titled Lengthening the Shadow, which details his personal struggle with depression. Dave's message is simple. It's about mates, helping mates and being brave enough to ask the question what's happening in your world? Well, Dave, what's happening in your world.

Dave Burt:

Mostly good stuff. Thanks Chris. And my name's Dave Burt it's a pleasure to be here with you today. Talking about mental health and wellbeing. A subject I've come to know a bit about over the last few years and probably fair to say not by choice that subject picked me. Whenever we're talking to groups, I will always say, if you think you don't know anyone struggling with mental health issues, I'll be betting that you do. And for those of you who do know people, I'll be equally comfortable in saying that for every person you know there are many more you also know. And often those folks don't say anything. And they don't say anything for a bunch of reasons. Some don't feel comfortable talking about it. Others don't want to be judged or defined by this thing that affects their lives. And there are those like me I saw it as a weakness and not something that I coped easily with.

Dave Burt:

If there was just one single thing I would wish for you to take away from today, it would be that everyone has knowledge that you all possess a very powerful gift. And while you may not know you have this gift, just trust me on this you do. And that is the power to give and provide hope and you just have to choose to use that. And I'm going to talk more about that later. I'll give you a quick backstory on me. I'm a sparky, I've been in the industry for 41 years and whenever I hear myself say that out loud, it makes me sound quite old. I don't feel that old. I'm a husband of 37 years, a dad, a granddad, business owner, business partner, work mate, part-time writer, part-time coach. And I certainly love anything to do with cars that go fast. Six years ago, had anyone asked me what depression was, I couldn't have told them.

Dave Burt:

Six years ago, I was living my life 900 miles an hour as I'd always done. My wife always say she gets tired just looking at me, not tired of looking at me. I had endless energy, I had endless optimism, and I had a vision these glory days would go on forever. For me they didn't. They stopped quite abruptly in December, 2014. I became unwell, physically unwell, and I'll tell you it really knocked me. In a short period of time, I lost that abundance of energy I'd taken so much for granted. I lost my appetite and I lost a bunch of weight, probably 15 kilos in a matter of weeks. Over the next five to six months, I genuinely couldn't tell you how many tests and procedures I went through, but it was a lot. And it was during that time, I can let you in on a secret, are you aware there's not a single hole in the human body the medical proficient cannot insert a camera.

Dave Burt:

Now I didn't like any of it, but I really wanted my life back. I was grateful I did find out what it was. Pretty rare thing. I had the surgery and I did get better, but for me it didn't last long. And it seemed to be from the point of my life where everything went wrong, I couldn't cut a break. From the date of the first surgery mid 2015 until now I've been through 21 different surgeries, countless tests and procedures, and quite some weeks in hospital. And slowly, I started to become a quieter version of my old self, but just inwardly and outwardly I went to great measures, trying to hide this thing, desperately, not wanting anyone to know. The fact is that basically depression entered my life just a little at a time. At first you don't notice these things, I got used to it. And then eventually it became a significant issue affecting not only my life, but that of the ones who mean the most to me.

Dave Burt:

And the reason I'm telling you this, I think it's very important to understand it doesn't matter who you are or at what stage you are in your life. None of us are immune from a mental health issue or crisis. Fact is almost 50 per cent of the population can experience a medically diagnosable mental health issue within their lifetime. One in six will experience that within this year. And just like me, almost 20 per cent of males live with a mental health issue, females slightly less. When you're armed with that knowledge and you get an understanding of the size and scale of it, and you take a moment to look around your own mates, family colleagues, you start to get appreciation. It's a big issue, it's right around us, and for many of us we're blind to it. I guess the reason I'm here today, apart from the fact that I was kindly invited and always really happy to shine a light on the subject is because I wrote a book.

Dave Burt:

And I never set out to write a book and certainly not on mental health and wellbeing, I'm just going to briefly share that story. Two and a half years ago, and I'll put two and a half years ago in some perspective for me, I was finally having some treatment for this depression and while life wasn't great there was a glimmer of light and I was hanging on to that with both hands. And it was also the first time in some years, I'd managed to go five straight months without a surgeon sticking a knife in me. I was pretty proud of that. However, this particular morning as I walked through the bathroom and paused to stand on the bathroom scales, I had three digits flashing back at me.

Dave Burt:

Now I was okay with two but three that was pretty confronting. Long story short with that, it ended up with my business partner suggesting we join the gym. I said, "Dan that's a great idea, leave that to me." And he said, "Dave there's a new gym opened up just down the road." And I said, "I'll check it out." I jumped in my truck and I drove all of 250 meters down the road and parked. And I know I should have run that or at the very least walked it. But I walked through the doors of the Ultimate Body Transformation gym, which I thought was an absolutely fantastic name. Then the owner, great guy, not only talked me into joining the gym, but he also talked me to sign up for a 10 week gym challenge. Now I assured him I wouldn't be able to do this. And he assured me that there was four weeks until mid-January when it started and providing I did a bit of fitness training in the between time I'd be good to go.

Dave Burt:

I signed up. I paid my money and I have to say that four weeks disappeared in a blur of good food indulgence and no exercise. And I'll also tell you, it was one of the toughest things I've ever done, physically. Mondays and Tuesdays with my trainer, upper body Mondays and Tuesdays was leg days. And I came to hate leg days they hurt. Wednesdays, no gym, but you had to run 6Ks. Something that I hadn't done for years. And Thursday, they had a thing called 20 minutes channels day. Now, 20 minutes how hard can that be. Up until that point in my life I had not realized there was so many places in the human body you could actually sweat from. But toughest for me was Friday's CrossFit. Now I don't know if anyone does or has done CrossFit, but I can tell you for a 56 year old who was overweight and unfit, I could barely coordinate chewing gum and walking at the same time, it was incredibly challenging. But I have to say, I eventually I got a bit fitter. I got better at it.

Dave Burt:

And now it's a very important part of my life. And every Friday I'll be at that gym just after 5:00 working pretty hard with a bunch of people I've come to know. And for me it wouldn't matter if it was the middle of winter and I was running shuttles outside in the pouring rain or in the high heat of summer, pushing a sled full of weights up the centre of the gym. There's never ever a Friday that I don't take just a minute to look around and think how lucky am I to be doing this. Because from a physical perspective, after what I've been through and continue to go through, I don't take that for granted. And from a mental wellbeing perspective, I certainly don't take it for granted, very strong correlation between physical activity and mental wellbeing. I don't need to read it, I don't need anyone to tell me, I know it's fact.

Dave Burt:

Anyway, the part, where the book actually started is everyday you had to run 3ks. Apart from Wednesdays, when needed to do your six. Now that very first morning I was pretty motivated. I set my alarm for 4:30. I had dressed in clothes fit for an athlete. They were all shiny and brand new, they had little wee pumas on them. And I left the house mid-January, that beautiful scent of summer in the air, it was dark it was warm and incredibly quiet. I had no music with me and the only sound was my feet on the pavement and that very early bird song. And I had to say I found that a very peaceful place to be. Normally, I wake and then stuff is coming at me 900 miles an hour text, phone and it goes until the end of the day.

Dave Burt:

And when I got home that first morning, there's some stuff rattling around in my head, and I wrote it in the notebook I keep by the bed, I didn't want to forget. Tuesday after my run, there was more and I wrote that down. On a Wednesday after 6ks there was more still. And remember that Wednesday evening, I went to bed pretty early. My body was so incredibly sore after doing things to muscles I didn't even know I had. Got to probably about 8:30 and I was still scratching around looking for my basket. And in bed I remember taking out that notebook and reading those 10 or so entries and for whatever reason, I just took out my laptop and started writing. And I wrote the next day and the next day, I wrote every day probably for a week before I read what I've written. And I have to say a fair bit of it is pretty lighthearted. I don't take myself too seriously, but there was some stuff in there I want to explore further. In some ways I wanted to see how the story was going to end.

Dave Burt:

So I made a promise to myself, I would write every day at the gym challenge and I did. I wrote almost every day of the 70, probably apart from five maybe eight days in towards that last few weeks. And it was a period where that depression bit me, and it bit me pretty hard. And it'll do that sometimes in the quiet of the night, something unlocks the cage and let's it out and I just have to deal with that. But I'll tell you the difference now having been through it. I have faith and belief I can deal with it. And the difference now is I have hope. And hope is something I will never take for granted again. And that's also that very powerful gift every one of you possesses, should you choose to use that power to give and provide hope.

Dave Burt:

Anyway, I finished the challenge. I lost a bunch of weight. I was pretty happy about that. I was a lot fitter and from a mental wellbeing perspective it was a huge revelation to me. I also had the makings of what turned out to be a book. And it was my wife who asked me, "Are you going to do anything with that?" And I said, "Why would I do that? I've spent five years of my life hiding this thing from the world." And I think in that moment, I understood that it was part of the problem. The problem that keeps it a secret and that didn't sit well with me. So I did publish it and as a result of that I was asked to speak at a bunch of events. And as much as I knew about depression, what I could do to make it better. I didn't really know much about the wider issue. So I did a bit of research and I will have to apologize the numbers I'm giving you are only New Zealand numbers.

Dave Burt:

I did try and research the Australian numbers, but because it's put up via state, I couldn't corroborate them all together. To give you a basis of comparison, our populations 4.8 million. Last year in New Zealand, we lost 353 lives. Now that's just the number of people that died on our roads. And that's a tragedy and you'll hear about it in the media every day. In the same timeframe, we lost 353 lives on the road, 685 New Zealanders decided for whatever reason living was too much and they couldn't do it. 498 of them were male, 187 were female. Disproportionately high number of male to female. And if you drill into those facts, you going to find that for each one of those woman that we tragically lose each year to suicide, approximately 15 per cent presented at hospital for it is classified as self-harm. The males, the corresponding number is less than three.

Dave Burt:

Now it's a really important point that I'm trying to raise because you need to understand that males often do not reach out for help and on occasion they act. And when they act, they act with effectiveness. Your good mate colleague, someone who means something in your life could be doing it really tough. You cannot rely on them to tell you. If you're drawn to those facts even further, you start to find that my own industry construction, it's an industry that I love. It has the highest incidence of suicide of any other categorization in New Zealand, higher than forestry or farming, not much higher but it is high and I believe the same is true for Australia. And if you drill even further into that statistic, you'll actually start to find one of the things that really, really gets me is that our industry from a health and safety perspective, it's such an important part of what we do. But each year in our sector, we lose six times more workers to suicide than you do to workplace accidents.

Dave Burt:

And when you hear that, you have to ask the question, what the hell are we doing about. Deeply ingrained in our sector as a mini male dominated workspace, is there exists an attitude and a culture of, "man up." of "toughen up" and of, "harden up." And even if those words aren't said with the same frequency or volume as in previous generations, I tell you that that attitude exists, exists as loudly as if it was shattered from the rooftops. In my opinion, we need to redefine what tough is because in my opinion, tough is maybe noticing when something's not quite right with one of your mates and trusting your gut and asking the question. And tough is maybe having one of those conversations that we as blokes don't do that easily. And tough quite simply is looking out for your mates when they need you.

Dave Burt:

So take it from me. It's a big and widespread issue. None of us are immune. And it probably leads to a very, very fair question. What is it, mental health issue or crisis? I can only really talk of depression a thing that affected my life, and if you've never experienced something like that I'm very happy for you. And if you've never experienced it, it can be very challenging to understand what it is like for those affected. And if I were to explain depression as the thing that affected my life, the best way I can is I have a very clear recollection of standing on top of St. Paul's Cathedral in London. And it was 2007 the heat of the Rugby World Cup was a very overcast morning the clouds were really thick and dense, and I remember really grey and low. You could almost touch them. And as I looked out over London, it was like looking at a black and white photo. But there was something about those dense British clouds that stripped very remnant of colour from the light spectrum and just left grey.

Dave Burt:

And I think that's what depression did, it took the colour from my life and just leave grey. And not continue with that it stole from me all my tomorrows, all the things I would normally look forward to and enjoy. Gradually, I couldn't see those things and gradually my future became irrelevant. And I cannot express how important it is to see a future. That same afternoon we booked to go on the London Eye and it would have been probably three in the afternoon is that carriage near at the top of that big revolving wheel an amazing view of London. But it was hard to believe it was the same city because at three o'clock, the clouds had dissipated. The sun was now out and London was displayed in all it's glorious vibrant colour. And it got me to thinking that earlier that morning, when all I could see was grey. The fact is all those colours were there they existed that morning and in that moment, it's just I couldn't see them because the clouds prevented that.

Dave Burt:

And that morning, it wouldn't have mattered how long I stared, how intently I stared or even how desperately I wanted to see those colours I was now seeing, I just couldn't because the clouds prevented that. It steals the good and it leaves the grey. And it wasn't that there wasn't good stuff in my life. There was marvellous stuff and in my future grandchildren, I was blind to it. And I have to say at times an evil constant when you have it in your life because when it exists there, day after day and week after week and into the months, a very challenging place in which to exist. And when I'm at the gym now I can hear that phrase occasionally of like, "pain is temporary." I get that in the context of the gym, for those living with depression, temporary is a very challenging concept.

Dave Burt:

And when I am at the gym on occasion I'll gravitate to that evil piece of equipment called a spin bike, and I can be quite mean to myself. And I'll set the dial for about 30 minutes, I'll pedal pretty hard and I know I'm working. And then when crack the dial the next little bit for the next 20 minutes. I wouldn't say I'm in pain, but man, I've got to concentrate to stick in it. And for the last 10 minutes, when I crank it, now I've really got to concentrate because it's hurting. And for the last five, when you crack that dial you actually have to get off the seat and drive with your legs. And even a minute into that I tell you, my lungs are burning and my legs are screaming. It physically hurts.

Dave Burt:

And I have the power to make that stop, all I have to do is reach down and turn the dial back and I can make it stop. But before I touch that dial I always ask the same question. Does it hurt as much as that anguish and pain of depression and so far it's never been close. So mostly I'll leave the dial and I'll push myself. It's good for me physically and mentally. But I can tell you an hour on a spin bike hurts a whole bunch less than an hour living with depression. So take it, none of us are immune big issue widespread. For those affected, trust me, it can be incredibly debilitating.

Dave Burt:

So it's probably a very fair question is why is it that people don't reach out for help when they need it, and we know they don't? As much as I've thought about that I can answer that question. Looking back. I thought this thing was going to fix itself.

Dave Burt:

That was never going to happen. I was fortunate my wife recognized it for what it was, she was the one that got me in front of my doc. And it was a really good starting place. And to be fair, I got to know her pretty well. She'd been busy fixing all the physical stuff. She's probably got a holiday house on me.

Dave Burt:

It wasn't just one individual thing too, some of the stuff she put in place for me... Some I had side effects I didn't like and she'd ring me at work and say, "Dave, how's it going?" Or tell me, she'd say, "Come back in and see me, we'll work on it." She put me in touch with people, professionals, who could make a difference, psychologists. And again, initially some of those people I didn't gel with, but I really wanted to be well again and I'm pleased I didn't give up and I eventually found my way to people that could make a difference.

Dave Burt:

Family, always depend on. Mates, there's a bunch of mates who helped immensely and I've never told me, and I should've told them. I should have given them all credit. And for me that gym challenge was an incredibly important part of getting well again, and staying well again. It gives me structure, it takes my mind away from other things. And I guess just the physical activity, that was really good for keeping good mental health.

Dave Burt:

If I was to walk out of here now and break my leg, I know I probably wouldn't get up and try and walk on it. Pretend it didn't happen, and view my leg as fixed itself. Because that's ridiculous. If I did break my leg I'd probably get those interventions, surgery to pin the bone, a cast to give it stability, and crutches for mobility and maybe some drugs for inflammation and pain. And you see, none of those individual treatments have fixed my leg because under the cast the bone is still broken. Those treatments are just there to support my body while it has time to heal. And there's a lot in that analogy and the treatments for depression that they have in common. Not one individual thing, it's a bunch of stuff working together coupled with time.

Dave Burt:

If I would ask the question now of, and I can't see anyone put their hand up, but how many people would know how to do CPR right now? Certainly it's a most electrical audience, almost everyone does. And I always say to construction audiences, "If you feeling unwell, go and stand next to a sparky, they'll save your life." Pretty much as we do at the end of every project, when they've eaten all the program up and leave it to us to get it over the line. The point is if I had a heart attack, anyone within a distance could attempt to save my life because someone showed them how to do it. They removed the mystery of it. And just because you learn how to do it doesn't mean oh goody, I want to try that. You don't do these things out of choice. And it's a bit like this issue around mental wellbeing, particularly in our sector.

Dave Burt:

It's not that we don't want to help our mates, we're just not good at it. We don't know how to. And that did get me to thinking that maybe a good starting point is if we had a phrase we could use. And if you use that phrase at the right time in the right situation, the person you were talking to would automatically know if there's anything going down they can tell you. And for me, that phrase would quite simply be, "What's happening in your world?" Because it's an open question. What's happening in your world? And I'd like to think if we did use that phrase, maybe a bit more often at the right time in the right situation, maybe we might have a few less occasions when after someone had taken the dreaded decision to end their agony, we wouldn't be left wondering. There's nothing I wouldn't have said, there's nothing I wouldn't have done if only I knew.

Dave Burt:

I won't keep you much longer, but I do have a question. And I'd like you to just think in your own mind, if I was to ask you to choose between one of two things, one of those things being bravery and one being vulnerability, what would you choose? And you could be forgiven for thinking that they're two very vastly different things. But they have more in common than you would think, they coexist almost like the flip side of the same coin. Because when you consider the woman who might save the child from drowning, incredibly brave act, at the same time that woman has put herself in a very vulnerable position. In 2003 in Afghanistan, New Zealand's corporal Willie Apiata was sleeping on a bonnet. A rocket blew into the ground critically injuring two of his comrades. Well he assessed the situation and knew immediately his commanding officer would die and bleed out if he didn't act immediately. When he put him over his shoulder and crossed 70 meters of open ground under heavy enemy fire to what was almost his own certain death, he ended up awarded the Victoria Cross for gallantry. Harder to imagine a braver act, yet at the same time a human being in a more vulnerable situation, than Willie Apiata as he crossed every one of those 70 meters.

Dave Burt:

And I guess what I am saying, if you too maybe take the opportunity to be just that little bit vulnerable yourself, and ask that question, that brave question, "What's happening in your world?" I can almost promise you with 100% certainty, it will not be long before you too get to utilize that powerful gift you all possess. That being the power to give and provide hope. And as I said at the start, you just have to choose to use it.

Dave Burt:

Look, I thank you for listening, and I hope it's given you some insight, but more importantly what power you have to make a difference simply by just being a bit vulnerable and a bit brave. Thank you.

Chris Bombolas:

Thanks, Dave. And for those who may need help, or would like to offer someone important or close to them help, you can see on your screen some of those very vital services that are available to those who are struggling and battling, not just physically, but mentally so. Very important, take note of those.

Chris Bombolas:

And today, thank you very much, some very poignant messages. Learning the depression stole your life, or stole your tomorrows, that it's important to never give up. These are life lessons, not just about mental health. Family and friends are important, vital, should be there, should be in your corner. They are in your corner, but quite often we don't go to that corner. We go to the neutral corner, because we're blokes and we don't go to the corner that has our family and friends and those who are supporting us.

Chris Bombolas:

And the new definition of tough, according to Dave, is looking out for your mates. Again, very important messages that we should all take back to our workplaces, back to our families, back to our communities. And I think the most important lesson that I learned were five very simple words, we touched at it at the start, Dave touched at it at the end, and I'll remind you all about it. It's a very short phrase and something that could save someone's life. "What's happening in your world?"

Chris Bombolas:

Time now for the second of our presenters, and let's move the focus towards the Electrical Safety Office and the initiatives and what they're doing in this space. And I'd like to welcome to the podium, the Executive Director of Electrical Safety in Queensland, Donna Heelan.

Donna Heelan:

Thanks Chris. And thanks Dave, for sharing such an important message, which I know resonates both across New Zealand and Australia. I've read your book, and I can tell you for those that are interested, it's a very easy and funnily entertaining yet challenging read. So I would recommend if you get the time to certainly seek out Dave's book and have a read. It sends such a great message, particularly in areas like construction that Dave's spoken about.

Donna Heelan:

I'd like to acknowledge all of our speakers today for taking the time to come and talk about the issue of electrical safety in our homes and our workplaces. I'd like to acknowledge the commissioner for electrical safety, and I'm happy that online we've got members from the ETU, NIKA, Master Electricians and Master Builders. And thanks everyone else for taking the time for joining us this morning.

Donna Heelan:

Electrical Safety Week is a really important event, and taking the time out of your busy day sends a message about your commitment to your workplaces, your friends, your family, and your kids. The electrical industry in Queensland is critical for our everyday way of life. It powers our workplaces, our schools, our hospitals, and the little things that we often take for granted. Our air conditioners in summer, our computers that we rely on daily, and even our mobile phones. I'm not sure about some of you, but I'd like to throw mine away some days. But it's certainly something that we use in everyday life.

Donna Heelan:

I'm not going to talk forever. I can, but I won't. For those of you that like numbers, I thought I'd give you a quick update about where we're sitting in the electrical industry across Queensland. We are approximately 12,000 electrical contractors and 56,000 electrical workers licensed in Queensland. During the last financial year between 2019 and 2020 the Electrical Safety Office responded to 1,164 electrical incidents. We conducted 1,272 assessments in industry. Completed 2,369 audits and issued 1,929... Sorry, I'll start that again. 1,921 enforcement notices. One of these 1,164 electrical incidents sadly was a fatality. This is one fatality too many.

Donna Heelan:

I wanted to touch briefly about what the Electrical Safety Office team is doing, and the broader team of the Office of Industrial Relations in relation to electrical safety plan for Queensland and the areas that we are currently focusing on. We're working to improve electrical safety for regional Queensland, focusing on areas that are overrepresented in the incident data, to deliver both engagement and compliance activities. In the coming months, COVID pending, we're going to focus our engagement and compliance activities in the Isaac, Hinchinbrook, Mount Isa, Cloncurry, Carpentaria and Gladstone areas. These activities will include key priority areas, which incorporate contact with overhead lines, which I'm sure Christine will speak about, safety switches and the importance of having them on all your circuits, the risk of unlicensed work, both to yourself, your children and your home, working near energized equipment, and buying and maintaining safe electrical equipment in Queensland.

Donna Heelan:

Whilst talking about working safely near energized equipment, and I think it's been mentioned earlier today, I'd encourage you if you haven't to take the time to watch Mark's story. It's a compelling story about the risks of working near energized parts, and if you haven't seen it please find it on our website or by Googling Mark's story arc flash, and take the time to watch it.

Donna Heelan:

We are highlighting the importance of property owner and landlord... Sorry, property owner and tenant electrical safety. Our webinar in recent weeks had almost 1,500 registrations, and we shared the important messages about electrical safety for landlords. And we're partnering with the residential tenancies authority to continue this important dialogue.

Donna Heelan:

We are ensuring that we promote compliance and electrical safety across Queensland while using all of our powers that come to us by a legislation, and all of the powers delegated by the regulator. In recent weeks we've successfully made an application to the Brisbane Magistrates Court for an injunction against a corporation who repeatedly failed to comply with improvement notices issued by the inspectorate. This was someone who carried on unlicensed electrical contracting, even after repeated attempts of the office to get him to cease to do so. We are targeting unlicensed electrical work. I'm sure you'd all agree, unlicensed electrical work is dangerous and puts Queenslanders at risk of injury and sadly death.

Donna Heelan:

Since March this year, the electrical safety inspectorate have issued 112 enforcement notices and issued penalty notices in excess of $42,000 for unlicensed electrical work. This is an area we will continue to focus on, but one I'm asking for your help. As the leaders of this industry I'd like you to be involved to ensure that people and property across Queensland are safe. You can do this by reporting any non-compliant or unlicensed work you see in your day to day activities as those on the ground. Please let us know through our website or by calling our 1-300 number and we will follow up any of those inquiries to deal with this issue head-on.

Donna Heelan:

We're thinking differently in how we engage in areas that are overrepresented in the electrical injury and fatality data. For example, we're sharing the critical messages about living and working safely around electricity in regional North Queensland. We've partnered with the Queensland Country Women's Association. The enthusiasm that the QCWA have for taking action on this issue has been absolutely impressive. And you will soon hear from the remarkable Christine King, state president of the Queensland Country Women's Association.

Donna Heelan:

To end, I encourage that you all share the events happening as part of electrical safety week. As Chris mentioned, we have the electrical contractor webinar tomorrow and the apprentices and supervisors webinar on Thursday morning. One thing I did neglect to mention was about safety in our homes, and I'll just backtrack a little bit. Changing culture about electrical safety starts with our children. And another focus area, which I meant to mention earlier and it slipped my mind, and Mel will speak about later today, about how we can change that safety culture starting with the young children that go to school and come home and educate their parents on a daily basis. I leave you with this, the more people we can engage as a group, as an industry, as a community, the more we can ensure that Queenslanders can safely work and live around electricity.

Donna Heelan:

Again, thank you for joining us here today.

Chris Bombolas:

Thanks Donna. The irony that our kids will be teaching us about electrical safety. Interesting synopsis and situation to arise, but sometimes through the eyes of children we see a different perspective. So get them young and teach them about electrical safety.

Chris Bombolas:

Donna mentioned that one of our guests, and she is our next guest, is Christine King, president of the Queensland Country Women's Association. And of course our Summit in 2020 is all about electrical safety in regional and rural Queensland, and I could think of no better association than the QCWA to talk about what's happening in the bush and on the land. They have many struggles. Drought, weather, you name it. They struggle with it all, and yet come through time and time again as the backbone of Australia.

Chris Bombolas:

Christine has been a member of the WCWA for 26 years, and is going to talk to us today about the importance of safety in the home. Welcome, Christine.

Christine King:

Good morning and thank you very much, Chris. Yes, it is so important. I think safety with electricity does start in the home. And we know that perhaps our generation might be well aware of it but younger people starting up as a family in their home with young children, I think it's a very good reminder to go over these things again. And I have a series of slides coming up, which would be self-explanatory. But it's very important that we look at this from a grassroots level. I represent 4,000 women and their families across Queensland, and the vast majority of those women live in rural and remote Queensland. And it's quite a different lifestyle out there. Distance means nothing to them, they'll drive 200k to go to a meeting.

Christine King:

But they're also the women that look after the family. They look out for the husband, the workers on their properties. And we did join with the electrical safety commission with doing an electrical safety checklist last year, which I believe you can find on Facebook and on the website for the electrical safety board. And it's a very quick checklist. Equipment safety, overhead power lines, shocks and tingles, and safety switches. And we've circulated these posters right throughout our network, all throughout Queensland, through our halls, through to our members farm sheds, to their houses. It's just that wake up call. And some of these items are going to be in the slides for people just to have a refresher, but I think it's very important that we start at that grassroots level and educate people about electricity. It's something you can't see. And I think young children perhaps don't understand it, and as Donna just mentioned, it's very important that we start with the children. So we can roll the slides if you like. And I'm not going to talk through them, I think that everyone's capable of picking up from the picture, the importance of each slide.

Christine King:

I have a mechanic out there who's going to do this.

Chris Bombolas:

Yeah, it's happening in the background. We can see the slides coming through and some of the tips of what to do and what not to do, Christine.

Christine King:

Very good. Very good. So it's all about that safety with power and cords and plugs.

Christine King:

We're looking for the wet conditions again in Queensland. We haven't had them for a while. Oh yes. Yes. And I think coming into Christmas, people with Christmas lights they need to not overload the boards and plug in Father Christmas too many times to the same point.

Christine King:

Everyone has computer equipment at home now.

Chris Bombolas:

And I guess the remoteness of people in the country where they don't have access like we do in the city, as easily as we do in the city, to electricians and contractors is an important factor, Christine.

Christine King:

I think that this is a huge issue that we probably haven't recognized or addressed. But if you've got to drive 150k or 200k to go into town to actually get something fixed, there would be a lot of home handymen out there that might believe that that would be the way to fix something. And that's something, I think, that is worthy of a very serious conversation of how we do this. Because we all know how often things break down, and farmers are great mechanic, home mechanics on everything, and this is a high risk area. We'd love some stormy weather, and we know to get off the telephone when the storms come.

Chris Bombolas:

This is an important one for the season that's just gone by, of course heaters and the dangers that they can potentially have.

Christine King:

Oh yes. I remember as a child that the wind blew through the window and the tablecloth caught onto the heater and caught fire. And my mother ended up slapping the fire out very fast. And it's something that, as a very young child, I do remember that instance. And it's just grassroots stuff. I think that we, as country women, are very aware of being very practical and a lot of common sense. But sometimes we think we can do everything, and our men can do everything. And this is a high risk area, I think, out in these remote areas because they are so isolated to have anything fixed. And there's also a cost involved. And with the drought being for so long around, and everything has a cost attached to it, and that is of great concern to us, of the safety of people. And how we address that, I think, is a very worthy conversation.

Christine King:

So I do encourage people to go onto the website for the electrical safety office and download the electrical safety checklist and put it up in your workplace, in your sheds, in your buildings, everywhere. Just as a reminder. It's very easy. We did it so that it was very easy. I don't know whether you can see, does that work if I hold it up or not? I'm not too sure. But that's what it looks like, and it's a very quick and easy tool, and a very beneficial tool. And we thank the electrical safety office for working with us on that project.

Chris Bombolas:

How important is it, and I don't want to appear sexist, that the Women's Association and the wives and partners of those very determined farmers and proud of farmers, get important safety messages to them? Because quite often they have the "She'll be right," attitude. "I can do this, no need to do that." How important is it for you guys then to reinforce the fact that, "Hey, we probably need to seek an electrician or an expert to fix this or to help with this problem?"

Christine King:

Oh, I just can't reinforce that enough. I know that when we started this safety checklist they said it was the wives of the farmers that were going to get the message across. Because literature that comes in that's probably too involved or too many pages, the farmers just don't have the time or the interest in reading multiple pages and they just throw it in the bin. It's too complicated. So this is why we came back to the one page that would perhaps attract their attention. And it was easy for the women in the family to understand, to reinforce. Up in the Atherton Tablelands I think they had an extra meeting about electrical safety, and they were talking about just one thing that was damaged electrical extension leads can cause so much trouble. So just identifying one thing is a great tick box to get that to happen.

Christine King:

But we've gone right through all our buildings. We have 230 buildings in Queensland, and they've all been electrically checked that they have the safety switch. And this is one of the major things that we've been talking about this past year at our meetings, is the electrical safety switch. And that's very important. And some of our power boards are very old and the safety switches don't look like the new ones, but the ladies are finding them one way or another. And so I think we're developing another brochure with pictures of all the vintage safety switches that might be in power boxes, because they need to be checked regularly.

Chris Bombolas:

Very important messages, and we thank you for your participation in the summit. You can take a break now before we get back to the panel session and some more questions.

Christine King:

Thank you very much, Chris.

Chris Bombolas:

All right, let's move on to the next of our presenters. And who doesn't like new and emerging technology? I love something that's new. I probably don't know how to use it, and will never ever learn how to use it, but if it's shiny and new I love it. And to talk about new and emerging technology, it's time to bring in Michelle Taylor from Energy Queensland. And Michelle is an active member of the ESO Electrical Equipment Advisory Committee, and the Standards Australia's Renewable Energy Standards Committee. She has a wealth of experience in renewable energy and energy storage technologies, including distributed energy technologies. Welcome, Michelle and thanks for joining us in electricity safety week 2020.

Michelle Taylor:

Thank you, Chris. It really is an exciting time to be in the electricity industry. There are new products everywhere, and new ways of doing things are constantly emerging. And connectivity is King. Donna was just referring to the mobile phone she'd rather throw out, but sometimes that is controlling lots of stuff in our houses now, which never happened before. Today is about providing you, also, with some assistance in how to keep on top of all of this, ensuring safe outcomes for you and for the technology and your customers.

Michelle Taylor:

So there are many, many new electricity technologies available. From electric vehicles to smart home devices controlled by your mobile phone, there are roles for electrically trained personnel everywhere. And what we are doing is making a difference to the lives of current and future generations. Today installing a photovoltaic solar system is commonplace, but 20 years ago there were only a handful of these types of systems connected to our networks. Now battery energy storage systems are starting be installed. Home energy management systems, smart hot water systems with variable elements, vehicle to grid electric vehicle connections, smart lighting and security systems all make up part of the modern home. Our industry is making a difference, and we have to make sure that this is positive, including our consideration of safety for new and emerging technologies.

Michelle Taylor:

Technology changes from the electricity supply industry all the way down to the consumer have the potential to make a big difference in what you do and what you encounter in your work. There may be new technologies out there that you had no training in, but that will impact on your work even if it's not what you're directly dealing with.

Michelle Taylor:

So safety for new and emerging technologies is a challenging area. Things are changing very quickly. The marketplace for products is now global, and we're needing to enhance the skills to offer end to end solutions. I work in the new and emerging technology areas at Energy Queensland, and I am continually challenged to ensure that I and my team understand these new technologies, how they work, what difference they make and how to use them safely. So how do I find out about the safety standards to which a product should be built or certified?

Michelle Taylor:

How do I ensure that I'm installing the product safely? What are the trusted sources of information and what's missing from them information I already have? And how do I know this? How do I keep my knowledge up-to-date? Not all of us have the time or the ability to do the detailed due diligence and market surveys around new technologies, their safety standards and their capabilities. And sadly, not all products out there come with a high quality level of documentation, manuals, references to thorough safety standards and the like. But due to the change of pace, it is impossible also for the standards to keep up with the rate of change and the rate of innovation. From my own experience, when I started in energy storage systems, as an example, many of the early batteries, energy storage systems I trialled, had no, or very inadequate manuals. There were limited Australian or international standards related to these products.

Michelle Taylor:

And in some cases they were applied, some cases, not. We even found many errors in the product that were basically back to the fundamentals of our AS 3000 rules. And perhaps you felt that some products have been rushed to market rather than properly fully tested. Yet these products were available readily on the Australian market. Now, I only happened to be involved in the Australian standards development at that stage, so I had the opportunity to accelerate the development of Australian standards for energy storage, as an example. But the experience clarified that there are so many challenges in getting these new products to have appropriate safety standards, and that we have to accept that there's going to be a bit of a challenge in having the safety standards at the same time as having the new products hit the market. So there are other things that you'd consider doing.

Michelle Taylor:

There are lots of great ideas turning into great products every day. Customers expecting greater levels of control, interconnectivity and visibility of their investments, and rules and regulations are regularly being updated. How do you keep on top of all this and ensure that you're competent in the work that you do? A smart salesman may provide what seems to be a comprehensive insight into a particular product. References to international or Australian standards, compliance on a specification sheet may provide you with increased confidence as to its quality. Images of installations and customer references provided may suggest widespread approval and confidence of a product, but we still must do our own independent homework when it comes to some of these new products. The internet makes that easy, but sadly, some importers and product developers lack integrity and do make untrue claims, and our research whilst it can be an onerous task, should be carried out a number of ways to make sure it's comprehensive enough and we're not at least try and reach out to others.

Michelle Taylor:

In new technologies, easy to focus on the new and not apply existing knowledge. Using your existing training should provide you with a great starting place. It's not just about the electrical risks however. There are other elements to consider. Manual handling, chemical risk longevity, how a product interacts with other devices, how would it be disposed of an end of life, product and service maintenance requirements, many questions to ask a supplier itself. Also, it's important to ask the supplier for the manuals, not just, and related safety certifications. Not just the specification, but actual certification, so you actually get what and understand what the specifications have. If you talk to others in industry, through web forums, social media pages, these are all great places to start and access larger groups of people who often have the same challenges and have different experiences. Asking questions of these groups, general questions, as well as pointed questions can give you an overall feel.

Michelle Taylor:

If you seek out other similar products, you can also compare and determine whether the specifications look right and smell right sort of, their references to ensure that there are applicable standards and if there are not, what are the types of things that they are considering? Look at the applicable standards. There's generally not a widget standard for everything that's freshly comes out, but there are some basic electrical standards which are applicable. Find out whether they're an active industry groups. They may provide direction people to contact, or may already have some references, rules or code of conduct that you may be able to utilize. Sometimes you may also come across some levels of conflicting information, always ensure you to seek clarification where there is conflicting or insufficient information. There are many bodies out there who have also provided some form of guiding principle, codes of conduct, or information bulletins whilst newly published standards may not be yet available. And information is often just a mouse click away.

Michelle Taylor:

So it's often really hard to just go, "Well, where do I start?" Who's who in the industry? There are so many players. But it also means that there's a lot of potential sources of information. A variety of industry boards exist across Australia that can provide good guidance and potentially contacts in the industry. I always use as a handy tool for myself, if there's a similar product that is new in the marketplace, but it's similar to something else, I'll often look at the front pages of the Australian standard, where it lists all the industry associations that are involved in making those products or in making those standards for the products. They become a really good source of the types of industry associations that I want to talk to about new products. On the screen, you can see of a whole variety of different areas from the standard side of things, electrical equipment and regulatory authorities, the industry associations, even our network businesses also have a stance, particularly on items that are connected to the grid. And there are a vast array of not only formal industry associations, such as this, but also things like Facebook pictures.

Michelle Taylor:

Finally, there are opportunities where we want to get some decent knowledge, and this is great for continued professional development for everybody. It takes many forms and as we've known over COVID in particular, there's so many ways that we can access things that we didn't have the opportunity before. As a person in Cairns, I can't always get to those wonderful conferences down in Melbourne or Sydney or Brisbane, but I know now that there's so much more that it's available through webinars, not just in Australia, but webinars internationally. It's amazing how much is happening overseas. There's a lot of knowledge sharing happening, and there's a lot of research happening at university levels that's now becoming much more readily available through the internet. Industry newsletters are a great place to start and give you examples of particularly where new technologies are coming up and how they are impacting different parts of the world.

Michelle Taylor:

There are podcasts recordings, there's training for public and private enterprises and even the media can provide some useful inputs. This is all continuing professional development, and it's all about staying safe and ensuring your competency was delving into the new and emerging technologies that are out there on offer.

Chris Bombolas:

Thank you Michelle. And look, I must say some wonderful tips on new and emerging technology. But one traditional one that can still be frustrating is when paper goes across the top of your microphone, when you're doing a presentation, just thought, I'd bring that one up. You It's a problem that happens quite often. So, thank you Michelle, for joining us from Cairns. If you have a question for Michelle, Dave, Christine or any of our panel members, our presenters from earlier, don't forget, you can submit your questions. All you have to do is type your name and question via the chat box to the right of the screen and we'll get to those very, very shortly. Let's go to the fourth of our presenters. And I'd like to introduce Leo Ward from Power and Data Support Services. Leo has been a member of Master Electricians for more than 15 years and has more than 45 years experience in the electrical industry. He is the managing director of Power and Data Support Services. And on top of that, also operates a cattle breeding property.

Chris Bombolas:

He's a busy man, got lots of things to do. And technology has been his friend. So to give us an update on another aspect of safety in electricity, please welcome another speaker from Cairns, Leo Ward.

Leo:

Thank you Chris and to all the listeners out there, we do really appreciate your attendance. Education, electrical awareness, regional and rural safety. One of the things that really made me aware, is what do the words electrical safety or electrically safe really mean? And how do we portray these processes and how we do things? And the messages we need to get across to get out here our people who use power every day. So my main focus is on how can we educate and deliver the message of safety working and living with electricity? As I started down in Australia thinking how to explore and develop our role in the education of electricity, the vastness of users of electricity in everyone's everyday life, the enormity of this journey became daunting. The consideration of the impact on people's lives and livelihoods and where the electricity has transported us in today's lives and how we use it and how it's that thing that is just there? And how does it affect us in the rural landscape?

Leo:

When we grew up on the farm as kids, we learned to fix everything else ourselves. In those days and ages, we had three lights and two power points in a house, and that was it. The concept of safety was staying out of the way of the old cranky dairy cow and not getting tangled up in the old electric fence. But as our dependency on electricity grew, how do we create that message of the dangers and the effects of electrical industry and the electrical equipment we use? And my dad used to spiel at me that electricity was a wonderful servant, but a terrible master and no truer words are spoken. And young students of today, schools and our apprentices, they're going, and as we mentioned earlier, they will be our teachers of tomorrow. And the messages we develop for them and how will they get their messages across to us in the older generation of how to do things, but also that the generations that they're bringing through underneath them, how will that message get across? The best way to learn is to teach.

Leo:

And we must ensure that our coaching methods and the way we provide those messages really sinks in and we need the ability to offer support. And we must never be daunted in there in that process to be able to give that support. I've spoken to a lot of people in the industry since I was invited to do this tour and that included the local inspectors and some of ESO officers I deal with in the rural sector. And one of the things that it came up at a meeting we had early this year in Atherton, in relation to rural instance in industries and locations, and the highlighted point that really struck me was this things called dead zones. And I was astounded, and reflecting on my own locations and what we do on our own properties. It's something we've never dealt with before. So, things like workshops and sheds on rural properties that have been built under aerial power lines. These things don't need council approval to be built, they're just built there.

Leo:

Farming machinery under the aerial lines, and even hay bail stacks built under aerial power lines. Large traveling irrigators, those processes. Now these aerial lines can be from private lines to high energy lines. And even 20 kilometres away from where we are in Cairns, we have SWER lines, which is single wire earth return electrical reticulation. And the problem with those, is that they're just one wire running across a paddock, a long span. So we need the awareness of all these, everybody living in these areas, what the risk is, and the days of potential risk in that shop. So we're talking about the hazards associated in our rural sectors, such as we've talked about the irrigation systems, including bore pumps. And again, all this machinery needs maintenance sense, constant awareness, just even turning them on, have you got to gumboots on? Are you wearing gloves? Things like that.

Leo:

Traveling irrigation systems, especially around high voltage lines. Harvest new equipment, especially in their cane cutting areas. Refrigeration systems for dairies. Cooking and roasting machinery for locations as far as a mango-packing plants at coffee industries. Welding equipment and portable electric equipment. So, we have all these different equipment and power supply systems out there. One of the ones that had been noticed more lately is a prime or standby generators, tractor PTO generators. It's more proliferation of solar systems, because we're finding it's cheaper to put a solar system with battery support than it is to run mains power supplies from a supply authority companies to these installations. So we're seeing more of a proliferation of those on the industries and in the rural industry.

Leo:

As you can see in the photo, there's a fairly large crack in the ground. Again, part of it, it was drought, a drought area. There's other, also another situation that occurred there. And I said to the operator there, I said, "Is there any mains cables running through underneath there?" And they go, "Oh yes." And I'm going, "Seriously, observation awareness. Are we tracking on top of this?" And again, it was a situation that could have occurred. Fortunately, it didn't. One of the things I tried to find is more, as even Dave mentioned before, statistics and information about Australia and a snapshot in the Australian agriculture and industry. And one of the interesting things was that self-employed workers is 46 per cent in the industry. Employees are higher proportion of older workers than any other industry. 16 per cent aged 65 and over.

Leo:

We're talking about the different hazards and chemicals and just livestock, machinery, weather conditions. You talked about lightning storms and things like that. The farmers, they work often alone and the risk to them is even higher. So, again, we tried to create that awareness of, ask for assistance, ask help, those sorts of things we need to encourage and help to find. And when we consider these details above, the injuries from electrical industries may not seem to be as relevant, but we know the devastation on any industry, or the near misses, one too many. And the cost which Christine pointed out, the cost of electrical installation repairs connected with the tyranny of distance. Are they to be addressed in unimproved or unapproved electrical works and lack of maintenance? It is a big call. And as I said earlier, we learned to do everything as kids, and we need to be aware of those practices and how to encourage a thought bubble with Christine QCWA, how it can actually bring that more to fruition of approvals and understanding the best practices.

Leo:

This slide here was, I've taken a bit of a detail from the NPPD, which is an American-based organization. And they talk about how they plan or process, they ask their rural organizations, farming to actually consider all these things as in toolbox talks, the end of the day before, what are we going to do tomorrow? How are we going to do it? What are we going to replace? But then the next morning, you're going to be working on this power line, you're going to be doing this. You're running your header machine through here, you have grain trucks, you've got portable elevators. What are the things we need to be aware of? Have you a spotter? Are you aware? All right? So, they're the things we just want to keep highlighting. So the education in the electrical industry and awareness.

Leo:

I suppose, we grew up, I sort of grew up in a farming region. And the thing was, you grew up knowing that if you stood all day, the is going to kick you or run over you. So you grew up with that DNA built into you. But what we're trying to do now is create more of an awareness of the electrical risks and electrical situations that are every day and how do actually not get involved with it. So we talked about electrical injuries have devastating and sometimes deadly effects. Work as an occupation is regularly exposed to electrical equipment are particularly at risk of serious injury. However, these injuries are often preventable with proper safety strategies and precautions in place. This is, we talk about our toolbox talks and planning and understanding who's going to be supporting who. And we should all consider and raise the standard for safety or safety for ourselves, our family, friends, employees, we take measures to protect them from electrical exposure.

Leo:

For those who've been in the industry for quite some time and as again mentioned earlier, we finally have in the Australian standards, the installation of safety switches and Aleutian circuits in domestic and commercial world. Is up to each of us to keep pushing for this to be implemented and tested regularly as a minimum standard in our industry and applications. And this is for older places. The new places are getting this as part of the requirements of the Australian standards. We need to make sure that that message is getting down the track for older installations to be upgraded and made safe. And the standards, The following standards must be the core. Turn the power off, do not work live and use qualified personnel. These are basic everyday messages and as stated earlier, when we educate our young people to the dangers of working near or around electrical systems, this becomes the standards that are only acceptable in the future. To round off, finally, I'd like to thank my family for their support during my past 45 years, and for my formative years of farm life. It's been a big circle.

Leo:

However, country and farming life never leaves your blood. And I believe it has made me more driven to be and do better, to both of my team use electrical in farming who keep me focused. We talk about ongoing training and development, COVID's paid a little bit of issue with that at the moment, but we still need to be talking about doing webinars. And I thank you for the work you produce. And also I like to thank my MEA counsellors and MEA members in the electrical industry in my farming community, what they do for me, and Greg and Michael Hyman, they've been very good supporters for the year, so to help us stay focused. So on closing, electrically wise and safe. Thank you. Thanks Chris.

Chris Bombolas:

Thanks Very much Leo. Fantastic words of wisdom and some key take home advice. And if you have a question for Leo or any of the other previous three presenters, Dave, Christine, and Michelle, don't forget to type your name and question via the chat box to the right of your screen. Well, we are here to talk about electrical safety regional and rural Queensland. And one of the major sectors in those areas is agriculture. And to talk about electrical safety initiatives done by the ESO, I'd like to welcome Malcolm Chessells from the Electrical Safety Office to talk about electrical safety initiatives in the agricultural sector in Queensland. Mal.

Malcolm Chessells:

Thanks Chris. And hello to everyone out there. Yeah. The Electrical Safety Summit today, it presents a great opportunity for us to talk about some of the initiatives that are taking place in the agricultural sector to improve safety and education and awareness right across the electrical spectrum. So to do that, I'd like to start with just this simple slide that talks about the priority risks from the Electrical Safety Office perspective. And it's quite obvious. One of the top one there is overhead contact. So working in the agricultural sector is it's considered a high risk with heavy machinery and everything else that's happening to produce the goods that come from there. But you involve that with the heights of machinery and overhead power lines, and the risk of coming into contact is that hazard is just increased.

Malcolm Chessells:

So in terms of the danger of working around electricity, unfortunately with the last 12 fatalities that have taken place in the agricultural sector, six of those, sorry, I'll start that again. Unfortunately, with the last 12 electricity fatalities in Queensland, six of those have been in the agricultural sector. So the Electrical Safety Office has joined with some key players in the agricultural sector and the industry and other community groups, such as Queensland CWA, Ergon Energy, Energex Energy, to improve electrical safety, education, and awareness. The priority risks we're looking at as part of this forum is contact with overhead power lines, unsafe electrical equipment, and lack of safety switches.

Malcolm Chessells:

This slide here, some of you may or may not be familiar with the hierarchy of risk control. So, the diagram that we're presenting there is trying to get people to understand that the best form of safety is elimination of risk. And that's that top category write across the top there, and the least level of protection that you can get is personal protective equipment. So what were the attempted to do here and down the right-hand side, and it's probably very difficult to read from the screen there, there are a number of initiatives that are currently underway and taking place, and we've replicated those as the little blue bubbles in the diagram itself. And the first thing that becomes obvious is that there's only one in the elimination of risks. And on future slides I'll go through after this, we'll talk a bit more about each of these bubbles. But one thing that is very obvious is the massive bubbles down the bottom is all about awareness. We have some more in training and some tools to assist people there, but the majority of work is taking place in awareness.

Malcolm Chessells:

We'd like to encourage people to actually shift some of that awareness into action. Start looking at more ways to eliminate risks, substitute risk, and isolate risk, not just about presenting awareness. So if we talk about elimination, the Electrical Equipment Safety Scheme, and it's a scheme that is going to get some more airplay in the future. It's been in place since 2013. It's about looking for the regulatory compliance mark on products that you purchase. The regulatory compliance mark is an indication that the piece of electrical equipment you are purchasing, a toaster, an iron, a TV, complies with current Australian safety standards. It's a very important thing to look for.

Malcolm Chessells:

Another form of elimination is looking at relocating overhead power lines. And from the picture that you can see on the screen there, it's an aerial picture of a piece of farmland. The blue lines that you can see on the screen there that may or may not be very evident, indicate where the overhead power lines are. And you'll see there in the centre of the screen, a hashed-out red area. The overhead power line used to go straight across the top of Macadamia farm in that area there. And the farmer had frequent contact with overhead power line, putting himself and others at risk. So through discussions with Ergon Energy in that area, they organized to relocate the power line and remove the risk altogether. So the power line is now fed from a different area. So another thing, and Leo mentioned it as well, not storing irrigation pipes or machinery underneath the power lines. It's an important thing about the housekeeping.

Malcolm Chessells:

Other actions. If we look at isolation. Energy Queensland are looking at a revised policy in terms of pole replacement. So if a pole is actually due for replacement due to degradation, or the likes, Energy Queensland have put in place a policy where they'll actually increase the height of those poles to improve the ground-to-line clearance, making it safer, but still not eliminating the risk. So it's something that is in place at this point in time. And I recommend you to talk to your local distributor there in regards to that option. Another thing that definitely we're trying to encourage people, is to look at the actual type of farming activities that are being taken in the vicinity overhead power lines, and look at opportunities to actually change that farming activity that may mean you don't need to come in the close vicinity of overhead power lines or not use the type of machinery you currently use to put you at a higher risk.

Malcolm Chessells:

Engineering controls. And you've heard this mentioned by a few other speakers already. Safety switches are now required on all final sub-circuits of a new electrical installation, but that's not the case for an existing electrical installation. And so we're encouraging and doing a lot of work in the area of education and awareness about the importance of having safety switches installed.

Malcolm Chessells:

General awareness about the importance of having safety switches installed, not just on your power circuits, but on your light circuits, your hot water system circuit, your air conditioning circuit. The safety switch is there for your protection. It may not save you from receiving electrical shock, but it has the high potential of saving you from a fatal electrical injury.

Malcolm Chessells:

For further information, you can con go to our website there. And if you're talking to your electrician, make sure you ask him about installing the correct type of safety switch for the installation that you have and the type of equipment that you have installed. And we do have what we call an e-SAFE on our website that actually provides further information in regards to that.

Malcolm Chessells:

Other engineering controls that can be put in place, and we're conducting some conversations with different service providers at this point in time, is in the era of geofencing. And geofencing, if you're not familiar with it, it's looking at how the engineering control of recognizing the location of power lines through a mapping system can be incorporated with the technology of the farm machinery you're using, and actually start with audible alarms and warning systems and flashing lights to heighten that awareness that you are moving into an area of risk.

Malcolm Chessells:

As I mentioned in the earlier slide about the hierarchy of risk controls, a lot of work is taking place in the administrative control area. One of the key ones that is out there and has been for some time, is Energy Queensland's Look up and Live campaign. That campaign has now progressed to the state that it's available on your handheld device, on your phone. So I encourage you all to go to your app store and download the Look up and Live app.

Malcolm Chessells:

Another area that that can assist if the lines cannot be re relocated, whether it be for financial purposes or other reasons, is to look at any visible warning signs that you can actually place on the overhead power lines. Some of those come in the form of the picture that you see before you now is called a Rohde marker. It attaches to the overhead power line and it actually spins and reflects. So it makes you more aware that you're in an area. There are other things that can be done as well, such as painting around the bottom of power lines. Just as a reminder, that you're driving past them each day, that there are the high risk of overhead power lines above you.

Malcolm Chessells:

Christine has already spoken to, at length actually, in regards to the work that we have done with the Queensland CWA. So it was quite simple, as part of the forum the Agricultural Electrical Safety Forum, Christine presented to us to say, how do we get the simple message out there? Nothing that's too in-depth, nothing that's all that government speak that some people don't like to listen to. So this is where the electrical safety checklist came in. And it does speak very heavily about the simple things to do, to look out for your electrical equipment, the overhead power lines, shocks and tingles and safety switches once again. So shops and tingles there, there's a couple of very important phone numbers that you can call on this checklist there. It's, I think, if you go to our website, you'll be able to see links to the different Facebook and other social media areas where you can get a copy of that list.

Malcolm Chessells:

Another initiative that was undertaken within the electrical safety office was, how do we go into the community and share with them the safety message and demonstrate exactly what it's about rather than just talking about it? So within the team we've built portable safety switchboards. These switchboards, whilst they're made with new technology, replicate the switchboard that's actually your installation on your house or in your shed. And you can see across the bottom there, there's a range of LED lights. So by turning different circuit breakers, main switches and safety switches on and off, actually it's a display showing where the power is turned on and off at any point in time.

Malcolm Chessells:

The other thing that we do with these switchboards is that it's always difficult to explain to someone the difference between a circuit breaker and a safety switch. Now, a safety switch has a test button on it. A T, it has a little T or test button on it. And from this switchboard, we can demonstrate to people how difficult it is sometimes to actually identify which is a circuit breaker, and which is a safety switch. And they perform typically the same function. The circuit breaker is there to protect the wiring and the installation, but the safety switch is there to switch off in an instant to protect you, your life and your families.

Malcolm Chessells:

Some other work that's been taken underway as part of the group. The work that was undertaken with Queensland TAFE, and that came about through Mackay canegrowers Queensland in regards to a lot of their itinerant workers coming through. And how do they keep them fully aware of the induction procedures and the requirements to actually work in close proximity to power lines. So that's now available online. If you go to Queensland TAFE website, you'll be able to see that course is there. Electrical safety, periodicals, e-SAFE newsletters. With Energy Queensland, the Electrical Safety Office and other agricultural industry groups in their own periodicals, there are numerous messages being put out there on a weekly and monthly basis to keep everyone advised and informed of electrical hazards and working in the vicinity.

Malcolm Chessells:

Another piece of work that's been undertaken at this point in time is to engage with different parts of the agricultural industry that I have not necessarily been part of the forum that we're working with at this point in time. To encourage them to improve electrical safety and awareness within their own sector of the agricultural industry. And some of those include the Avocados Australia, Australian Banana Growers, Bamboo Society of Australia, Biosecurity Australia, which we've had some good discussions with them in regards, particularly with bamboo as well to put some more literature out there about the risk of planting underneath power lines. And also with the local government association of Queensland.

Malcolm Chessells:

Another program that we're working on, and there has been some mention of the area already Atherton's Tableland Region. Unfortunately, this region, it's been overrepresented with the number of electrical fatalities in their area. So we're looking to put a dedicated program in place and that will potentially commence next year. Now the program is all about getting local leaders and influencers and family members within the community to take on board that safety message and deliver it within the community and get that community to actually improve their education and awareness in that area. As I mentioned, unfortunately, there have been four fatalities in that area and they all occurred on farms. Two involved contact with overhead power lines and another was an unfortunate double fatality that involved a faulty electrical cord, but no safety switches were installed on that installation.

Malcolm Chessells:

The program itself, it's all about the key messages that we are trying to share with everyone. Is the risk of electrical safety equipment and making sure that you have the regulatory compliance mark on that piece of equipment when you purchase it. Switchboard safety and wiring with electrical safety switches, and working in the vicinity of overhead power lines.

Malcolm Chessells:

And one other piece of work that is just about to take off is... Donna mentioned it earlier, is working with children. Through the Tablelands regional safety project that we're looking to commence there and discussions with the local council and the development of our portable switchboard, we've been contacted by the Tablelands Regional Council in regards to a safety squad program, which is looking at educating children nine to 11 years of age about safety hazards. And the feedback from the schools is that electrical safety is one of the key things they would like to educate their children about. So we've been invited to participate in this program that's being run by the Tablelands Regional Council. And I believe there will be an initial trial program for that at Atherton Sir Joseph School, coming up in October. Those dates are yet to be confirmed. It's only early days, but it's a great initiative by the Tablelands Regional Council to get that safety message through to the younger generations coming through.

Malcolm Chessells:

That's it for me in regards to that presentation and the work that's being undertaken by some key people in the agricultural area. And thank you very much for the opportunity.

Chris Bombolas:

Thanks, Mal. Some great work being done by the ESO, particularly in the regional and rural areas throughout Queensland. Well, it's time for your session now. And we'll open up the panel. Thank you for all your questions. Of course, if you want to try and rush in a last minute question, if it's an absolute ripper, we'll put it up. We'll try to get to as many as we can. You can type in your name and question via the chat box to the right of your screen. Dave, Christine, Michelle, and Leo. Let's see if they're back online. Can you give me a wave? Are you all back on deck? Yes. We've got them. We've got their attention. Let's go to the questions.

Chris Bombolas:

The first one is for you, Dave. It's from Tina. What are the simple steps...? And we've got to keep these answers nice and short so we can get through as many as we can. What are the simple steps someone can take to improve their mental health? Nice and quick in a little capsule for us, Dave.

Dave Burt:

I think there's a few things to concentrate on is things that you're satisfied with, things that make you happy. It's always easy to concentrate on the bad things, but that's an important one. And I think taking time out for yourself and maybe sharing when your mental health is suffering a little bit. I think that sometimes you can't always do everything on your own, we need other people to help us.

Chris Bombolas:

Great advice. Another one for you, Dave. This one comes from Nick. As a business owner, what would you suggest implementing in your workplace to support mental health? Let's get the steps. The first steps that we need to do.

Dave Burt:

Talk about it. Talk about it, make it a subject that's easy to talk. And I can tell you that I've been in business for 20 plus years. And in the two years, since I put a book out there, which our staff know about it. The previous 20 years, I would have had maybe one conversation around mental health and wellbeing with employees. I couldn't tell you how many I've had in the last two years, more than 20. And I think creating an environment where people feel able to talk. It's probably one of the most important things we can do as business owners.

Chris Bombolas:

I'm taking from your earlier presentation, the five words, what's happening in your world? That's as simple as that, that will start that conversation.

Dave Burt:

Chris, most of the time we can see when something's not quite right with someone and nine times out of 10 if you go and ask the question, probe a little bit, you'll probably find that there's something there behind it.

Chris Bombolas:

All right. This one's to Christine. It comes from Joe. Thank you, Joe. How do you encourage women, Christine, to start the conversation about electrical safety in their workplaces?

Christine King:

Well, I think that women are very good at talking and communicating. We don't have a problem with that. And I think that what we've done through the CWA with having these discussions at our halls and that we really do empower women to go home and be brave. And they can find that subtle moment to say, "Well, have you checked something?" Or, "I'll come down with you and have a look at this. And can I put this checklist up in the shed so that you can read it?" I think women are very creative in starting a conversation and it's about life, so we're going to be brave. And it's very important that people don't take offense. It's there for the best interests. And I recommend that they go for it because the outcome is fantastic and it does start a dialogue.

Chris Bombolas:

Great advice. Let's move on to our next question. It comes from Jane and it's aimed at Michelle. Now, Michelle, what would be your advice to other women looking to work in your industry?

Michelle Taylor:

Oh wow. Look, there's nothing stopping you. If you're interested there's opportunities for everybody. And whilst it's quite well known that the electrical industry is a male dominated field, I think that there are so many opportunities and there's so many right places for women to be. In the same way that Christine is talking about influencing women around the farms, there's a lot of things that as women in the electrical industry that we have the opportunity to do that probably didn't happen so much with men. And Dave's example of showing that the conversations around how you going are really important. And we tend to do that a lot more than the guys, perhaps.

Chris Bombolas:

Excellent. Excellent. Now, Leo, you haven't escaped unscathed either. There's a question for you. It comes from Allen and Allen would like to know, what's one piece of advice you have for farmers working alone? And that's a situation that is often the case where they have long days, hard yakka and they're on their own.

Leo:

Yeah. We had that process early in our piece where I had my farm manager and he was basically working on his own. And what we did was we started the dialogue with the next door neighbour. And even today, my farm manager is helping to lay a concrete slab. So we work together, we balance off each other. We try to be supportive, community-wise, so much so that hopefully more post-COVID, but we're trying to actually create more of a community base around ourselves so we can actually support each other in all our outcomes, mental health and all that sort of stuff as well.

Chris Bombolas:

For that question, if you are performing work on your own and it's remote and it's on a far end of the property, how can you keep in contact or what would you do in advance? Would you say to family members or to your foreman or whoever it might be that, "I'll be back at five o'clock, I'll be back at 7:00 p.m." Give them some parameters so that it would raise an alarm if you weren't back in time.

Leo:

Yeah, yeah. Again, we actually all people who work on our property, we actually have all hands-free two-way radio systems so that if there are any issues, it's a quick two-way radio. I think it covers the boundaries of our property. Mobile phones are good, but we just kept having issues with, what you call the VOR, the ability to just talk and you get a response. We then do also have planning in place where we say, "Okay, this is the roles we're going to be doing today. This is our anticipated times. This is what we're using." And again, any of the risk stuff, we try and work in pairs. But as I said, if you're out on your own, communicate, advise, whiteboards, anything. Even if you're on your own and your family is away, just let your neighbour know. Just somebody to actually say, "Hey, if the lights aren't on at night, somebody is missing. So who's there, who's there to help?"

Chris Bombolas:

There's another one for you, Leo. This comes from Kirk. And I know you've had 45 years experience in the electrical industry, but what's the biggest challenge you've faced during that time?

Leo:

Keeping up with the changes in technology, would be one side of it. The other side of it is making sure that the people who work for me are provided constant training because our industry changes so quickly. How do we keep up with that technology? How do we keep them on track? And that to me is always a challenge. It's keeping them safe, but keeping them aware of what the industry is doing and how we keep level of it. And that's all the industries on both sides, farming or the electrical. It's really tough.

Chris Bombolas:

Just aim that question across the Tasman to Auckland, to Dave too. You've had a wealth of experience in your trade. What's the biggest challenge you've faced?

Dave Burt:

I think new legislation that comes in, whether it be technical or health and safety, just constantly being in touch and having systems in place that are fit for purpose so your employees can all go home safely each day. That never stops. My wife runs a health and safety program for our 120 employees. So we're often talking about it at night, which is really, really romantic. But it's really important to us. And I think keeping in touch with all that stuff is challenging.

Chris Bombolas:

And just to wind up and thanks everybody for your questions. A million questions came through, but we've had to keep it to a half dozen or six or seven. This one's for you, Dave. It comes from the ESO. I think it might've come from Donna actually, but I don't want to give her up. There've been many comments and requests for your book in the webinar chat forum. Can you tell us how to get a copy, and could you sign one for Donna?

Dave Burt:

I certainly can. On the website, lengtheningtheshadow.co.nz or .com, either will get you there. There's a process there that you can buy a book if you wish to and it just gets couriered to you. I don't believe it's in the shops in Australia.

Chris Bombolas:

Thank you very much to all our panel members for joining us. We have to wrap up the panel session there as we get towards the end of our summit for 2020. Of course the summit is put on by the Electrical Safety Office and it's the brain child and the baby of the Commissioner. And I'd like to welcome the Commissioner to say a few words and a wind down now summit for 2020. Please welcome Greg Skyring.

Greg Skyring:

Thank you Chris. Good morning everyone. And thank you all for registering. We've got a great line-up and we've got registrations from Weipa in the north, right through to Victoria in the South, across to New Zealand and I believe we've also got guests from Switzerland. Fantastic line-up. So I trust from this extraordinary line-up of speakers, you will all have a takeaway that will inspire you in your business. Can I also ask you to become involved in electrical safety week this week. Hold your own event, connect with the many programs available, share a safety moment, maybe online. As Chris said earlier, this event's been going for four years now. And back in 2017, leaders of industry, we had 40 leaders of industry that were invited to a Safety Summit breakfast, a little bit different to this at the Victoria Park Golf Club.

Greg Skyring:

Those leaders committed to inspire others to take action and to drive safety leadership at work through visible, impactful leadership. And in 2018 members subscribed to the safety leadership at work lead program. And we committed to develop, pilot and evaluate a safety culture toolkit for the electrical services industry. And in 2019, we delivered on the safety leadership pilot program. A program that was designed to measure and embed a safety culture in your business and across the electrical services industry. In that pilot program, we heard from participants about the benefits in motivating their workforce to behave in a way that prioritizes health and safety and that of their teams and mates through good leadership.

Greg Skyring:

That brings us to 2020, a year of many disruptions and impact on our wellbeing. It's where leadership, health and safety has taken on an even greater and present meaning. So through this webinar, our guest speakers have connected with and inspired us in their own way. So, Dave, thank you for coming. Dave's story has never been more relevant. Droughts, fires, a pandemic, and now a recession. And so how are you dealing with your world? Are you brave enough to ask the question of your mates? So thank you, Dave. It's been an absolute pleasure having you on. And I think a lot of your story will resonate with a lot of people in the industry.

Greg Skyring:

Donna, getting the balance between enforcement of legislation and education and engagement, it's not easy. The focus on rural and regional Queensland by bringing together community, industry and government organizations to improve electrical safety is commendable. It's a simple things like the safety switch education and the switch off before entering ceiling spaces. They're the things that will save lives. So thank you for today.

Greg Skyring:

Christine, you're a community voice to be listened to you. You turn words into actions. You did not hesitate when made aware that the safety switches on all circuits for the CWAs many aging properties would make rural and regional communities safe under your watch. Lots of great messages today. Back to basics, that's what we want to hear. Thank you, Christine.

Greg Skyring:

Michelle. Michelle has a real passion for electrical safety and a great advocate for regional Queensland. Michelle, as Chris said earlier, is on our electrical equipment committee. She keeps us informed on the benefits and the risks of emerging technology and the importance of staying current and in particular competent. Thank you, Michelle.

Greg Skyring:

And Leo, our contractor from Cairns and farmer. The message is clear. The many hazards working on rural properties, working remote and working alone. The elevated risk of working near overhead power lines. I particularly liked your description of the dead zones. Additional risks created where operations seldom occur, but can be mitigated by education, awareness. You might not have mentioned it, but certainly the Look up and Live app that is now out there, a great tool.

Greg Skyring:

Safety switches on all circuits, test regularly, turn the power off, do not work live, use qualified personnel. Simple clear messages. Thank you Leo.

Greg Skyring:

And Mel from the ESO. Reinforcing those priority risks in the rural sector. Contact with overhead lines, lack of safety switches, unsafe electrical equipment. Key messages, and clearly articulating the actions to manage those risks. Simple elimination, isolation, engineering and administration controls.

Greg Skyring:

Can I just thank the AU team, in particular, Elsje, Ella, Connie and Zoe, and particularly our MC Chris here as well and all the webinar participants for being here today. And in closing, I'd just like to leave you with this message. By attending this Safety Summit, you make a commitment. If each of you take one action for the health, safety, and wellbeing of your team, your workplace, and inevitably your family, then investment in your time here today will have been worthwhile. Thank you. Be safe. And I look forward to engaging again in 2021. Thank you.

Chris Bombolas:

Thanks Greg. You can see our Facebook details there. If you'd like to join us and follow us. Thanks to the Commissioner for making today possible. Thank you to our speakers, Craig, Dave, Donna, Christine, Michelle, Leo, and Mal. There are a number of ways you can get involved in electricity safety week, which is running through until the 11th. We're running a Facebook competition on our electrical safety office page every day this week. Send through the correct answer to the question and you could win one of five, $100 Trade Equipment gift vouchers.

Chris Bombolas:

Please join football legend, Mat Rogers at tomorrow's electrical contractors webinar. If you're an electrical apprentice or supervisor, you can click on to the apprentice and supervisor webinar. That's happening on Thursday morning, bright and early. You can visit electricalsafety.qld.gov.au to register for a webinar or to check out some of our really invaluable resources.

Chris Bombolas:

Today's webinar was recorded so you can watch it again and share it with your friends and colleagues. It will be available at electricalsafety.qld.gov.au, along with a range of other electrical safety information and resources.

Chris Bombolas:

Shortly, we'll email you a feedback survey. We really value your feedback. It helps us shape events like these in the future. Tell us what you like. Tell us what you didn't like. Tell us what you want more of. We'll take that all into consideration.

Chris Bombolas:

Finally, on behalf of the Office of Industrial Relations and the Electrical Safety Office, thank you for joining us for Electricity Safety Summit 2020. In the words of Dave Burt, our friend from across the ditch, "It's about mates helping mates. It's about being brave enough to ask the question, what's happening in your world?" I hope it's safe and I hope it leads us back to the Summit in 2021. Thanks for joining us. Be safe.

[End of Transcript]

Electrical contractor webinar

Mat Rogers, Football legend and Australian Survivor champ

Football legend and Australian Survivor champ, Mat Rogers, discussed the mental health challenges he faced during his football career, his time on Survivor and in his personal life. Mat also talked about how he manages stress and deals with personal loss.

Chris Bombolas:

Good morning and welcome to our electrical contractors webinar. I'm Chris Bombolas from the Office of Industrial Relations and on behalf of OIR and the Electrical Safety Office, thanks for joining us this morning. This morning we'll be looking at electrical safety and in particular reporting unlicensed work and safety incidents. We'll also be looking at solar PV systems and safety around those. We have a special guest joining us here to talk about adversity, and that is Mat Rogers. We'll get to those guests and to those segments very, very shortly.

Chris Bombolas:

But firstly, I would like to respectfully acknowledge the traditional owners and custodians of the land on which we meet and elders past, present, and emerging. Thanks for joining us this morning. As you're all aware, it is Electricity Safety Week and that goes from the seventh to the 11th of September and it reminds us that while electricity helps power up our everyday lives, it can be dangerous. The ESO is hosting three events, digital this year, because of the times that we're in, focusing on health and safety in the industry, particularly mental health.

Chris Bombolas:

These events are tailored for industry leaders, electrical workers, contractors, and apprentices. Yesterday we had the Electricity Safety Summit, today of course we're catering for electrical contractors and electricians, and tomorrow we are catering for apprentices and supervisors involved in the electricity industry. As I said, it is Electricity Safety Week where we are putting the focus firmly back on safety.

Chris Bombolas:

I'd like to acknowledge our football legend and special guest who'll be joining us very shortly, Mat Rogers, and also Donna Heelan, Michael Gibson, and Michael Heinemann from the Electrical Safety Office. Thank you for joining us and if you'd like to be even more apart of this digital event, you have any questions, we will have a panel discussion later on. You can type your name and questions via the chat box to the right of the livestream. To change the size of your screen, select the four small arrows next to the volume bar at the bottom of the screen.

Chris Bombolas:

Time to move to a different track to find out what's happening in the industry, some trends, some issues, and what the ESO is doing to help us. It's time to hear from executive director of the Electrical Safety Office, I'll get that right in a minute, Donna Heelan.

Donna Heelan:

Thanks, Chris. Electricity is certainly not an easy word to say. It's a bot of a tongue-twister. Before I start, I'd like to thank Mat for sharing his story. It's such an important message. When we look at the industry statistics, particularly in the construction and electrical industries, and the amount of men that are taking their lives on a daily and monthly basis in Queensland, they are absolutely alarming.

Donna Heelan:

Something that really resonated with me Mat, was when you talked about your goal setting. A very dear friend of mine that also lost her life at a young age from breast cancer, used to always say, "You need something to love, something to do, and something to look forward to." That's something that I really got out of your message today. My other key take away that Chris highlighted, was about looking out for your mates, which has been a real theme for the last couple days for Electricity Safety Week.

Donna Heelan:

So thank you to everyone for joining us today and thank you for our speakers. Electricity Safety Week is an important event and a really important event for you to take your time out from today. I think I said at our last webinar that just taking the time out from today is not enough. You really need to make a commitment to what you're going to do to make your workplace, your homes, and the communities in Queensland safe.

Donna Heelan:

The electrical industry in Queensland is critical for our every day way of life. It powers our workplaces, our schools, our hospitals, and the little things we take for granted. Things like our air conditioners, our computers and our phones. I did say yesterday that sometimes I would prefer not to have a phone, but today's lifestyle makes it an essential, albeit very annoying too. For those of you, I may be talking statistics that you already know, if I do, forgive me.

Donna Heelan:

In Queensland, we have approximately 12,000 licensed electrical contractors and 56,000 licensed electrical workers. During the last financial year of 2019, 2020, the Electrical Safety Office responded to 1164 electrical incidents. We conducted 1272 response assessments and completed 2369 audits, and issued 1921, excuse me, notices. One of those incidents during this time, sadly was a fatality, which is one fatality too many. I reflected about what I wanted to talk about today, and whilst I want to give you an update about the activities of the ESO, I also want to take this opportunity to remind you all about the importance of working safely, for yourself, your employees, your families, and your mates.

Donna Heelan:

Over the years I have had, and still have, a role, which means I am notified of serious workplace incidents or fatalities. It doesn't matter for me if it's 5:00 on a Friday or 2:00 on a Monday morning. It never escapes me that in that moment, the impact that that incident is going to have on that injured person or to the deceased loved ones from that day forward. The fact that that person may never walk again, will never kick a ball, will undergo many significant surgeries or months of extremely painful processes to treat burns. The mental and financial anguish and impact for those families and their friends. For those that have died at work, the family they leave behind. The dad that won't be there for Saturday's netball game. The mum that won't ever get to see her son get married. Or a parent that has the tragic task of burying their child.

Donna Heelan:

This is the ripple effect that I speak of very frequently, and the reason you need to be safe at work. The reason you need to look out for your mates. The reason you don't cut corners, and the reason you speak out if you think the task is unsafe, and the reason that you don't take risks. I don't need to tell any of you on this webinar today that electricity is a silent and deadly hazard.

Donna Heelan:

If you take one thing away from today, please let it be the message about why safety's important to you, your employees, your colleagues, your family, and your mates. I've been privileged to work with the affected family's committee over the years, and all the members of that group have either lost a loved one or have suffered a permanent life-changing injury. Whilst it's a committee that achieves such positive change and offers immeasurable support, it is a group that you or your loved ones don't want to be eligible to join.

Donna Heelan:

On that note, I wanted to touch briefly on what the Electrical Safety Office is doing and the electrical safety plan for Queensland for 2018 to 2020, and the number of areas that the amazing electrical safety team are working on. We're working to improve electrical safety for regional Queensland. We're focusing on areas that are over represented with incident data to deliver both engagement and compliance activities in those shires. These areas that we're focusing on for the next six to eight months, will include the Isaac, Hinchinbrook, Mount Isa, Cloncurry, Carpentaria, and Gladstone areas. It's even harder than electricity, Bommer, Gladstone.

Donna Heelan:

These activities will include our key priority risk areas, contact with overhead lines is sadly still happening on a daily basis. We're either putting machinery in them, we're putting farm equipment into them, we're driving into them, we're doing all sorts of things with overhead lines. Safety switches, we're a big advocate of safety switches and one safety switch is not enough. You need safety switches on all your circuits to protect your home and your loved ones that come and visit and live there. The risk of unlicensed work, which I'll speak about shortly. The risk of working near energized equipment, and buying and maintaining safe electrical equipment.

Donna Heelan:

Whilst I'm talking very briefly about working safely around energized equipment, if you haven't seen Mark's story, I really encourage you to take the time to listen to him. He has a really compelling story about the risks of working near energize parts and thankfully he's still alive to share those lessons. If you haven't seen it, have a look at our website or Google Mark's story, Arc Flash. I believe Mark will be coming to speak with us tomorrow.

Donna Heelan:

We are highlighting the importance of property owner and tenant electrical safety. We had a webinar similar to this in recent weeks, which had almost 1,500 registrations and shared the critical messages about electrical safety for landlords. We're partnering with the Residential Tenancy's Authority to continue this important dialogue. We're insuring we promote compliance by using all of our available legislative powers. In recent weeks for the first time, the Electrical Safety Office successfully made an application in the Brisbane Magistrates Court for an injunction against a company that had repeatedly failed to comply with improvement notices issued by the electrical inspectors for unlicensed electrical contracting. This is a model that we'll continue to use into the future.

Donna Heelan:

While we're talking about unlicensed electrical work, this is a big target area for us this year and something we're going to continue to pursue. As I'm sure you will all agree, unlicensed electrical work is dangerous and puts Queenslanders at risk at injury or death. Like Mat said, we don't want him putting light switches in our homes, we certainly don't want anyone doing anything electrically orientated in our homes unless they've got the right electrical licenses.

Donna Heelan:

Since March this year the inspector had issued a 112 enforcement notices and issued penalty notices in excess of $42,000 for unlicensed electrical work. This is an area that I said we continue to focus on, but I'm asking for your help, and I know Gibbo, or Michael Gibson will certainly talk to this point. You guys are out there on the field every day. You see stuff, you know when people and property are safe or unsafe. We need to be in this together and to do this you can report any non-compliant or un-electrical work you see on your daily activities by contacting the Electrical Safety Office and we will follow-up those notifications.

Donna Heelan:

In closing, this is a really important week, and Chris has mentioned, we have a number of different activities. I would encourage you all to join us tomorrow morning for the apprentices and supervisors webinar. The more people we can engage, the more we can ensure that Queenslanders can safely work and live around electricity. Thanks for joining us today. Thanks.

Chris Bombolas:

Thanks, Donna. Donna mentioned briefly that we will be joined by the director of field services from the ESO, Michael Gibson. Michael's going to talk to us this morning about unlicensed work and safety incidents, and reporting those and making sure we stay on top of those and we continue to ensure that people do the right thing. Michael? Gibbo, your turn, mate.

Michael Gibson:

Yes, thank you, Chris, and good morning everybody. As we identified, so what I want to do today is probably cover the legislative requirements of what we expect and what is mandatory to report, why it's mandatory to report, and why we want to know about it. Then we'll talk about some practical examples of what we would do when we receive some of those reports.

Michael Gibson:

Now, on your screen now, our electrical safety legislation defines two incidents and notifications that are reportable. We call them dangerous electrical events and serious electrical incidents. These both are mandatory requirements. You have to report them when you're conducting a business or undertaking. What we want to cover off, we'll look at the definitions of what they are and what I'll probably talk about some practical examples of what would constitute a dangerous electrical event or a serious electrical incident.

Michael Gibson:

Just as a little bit of background, like Donna said, we receive lots of notifications from members of the public, from employers, from concerned people, from apprentices. We would accept all those notifications, we will triage them. We've got a special department within the Electrical Safety Office, within OIR, called assessment services. Their role is to look at every notification, triage what's in it, and then they will allocate it to either ESO or Work Health and Safety. While we got definitions of what is and what isn't reportable, we're certainly not going to challenge somebody that makes that phone call. Give us the information you've got and we'll have a quick assessment of it and we'll always get back to you.

Michael Gibson:

I'll have a quick look at what these definitions are. What we want to talk about now is, we would call it dangerous electrical event, and legislation defines those dot points. We've got circumstances involving HV equipment, we've got events involving electrical equipment that may or may not cause significant property damage, and we've previously spoken about it, performance of unlicensed work. The performance of electrical work, whereas there's a lot of that work to properties that's not electrically safe. Now that can be a bit of performance by electrical contractor and it certainly can be somebody who's unlicensed. Then we'll look at some of the equipment.

Michael Gibson:

Those that don't know, a lot of plug in equipment. We look at c-tick approval process and electricians who identify equipment in the course of their business that hasn't got the appropriate c-tick markings or approval, then they can report that to us and we'll have a look at the equipment and how it came into that market.

Michael Gibson:

We'll look at some practical examples of what a dangerous electrical event is. Like we say, in regard to HV, some of the really simple ones are just fallen power lines, any HV fallen power lines or unsecured access to HV equipment whether it's substations, private networks, that type of thing, particularly plant contact with underground or overhead cabling. They're all reportable as HV incidents, they're all DEE events. If you're conducting work, you're digging up cabling, that type of thing, then any plant contact is certainly reportable to us and we'll have a look at that.

Michael Gibson:

Now, if you're working on overhead, you've got cranes working, you've got a concrete pump, any form of plant overhead and you're hitting overhead lines, certainly that's reportable to us. We've got a requirement there for significant property damage. The ultimate, probably the most common cause of significant property damage in this instance, is fires. Now, whether that equipment is plug in or whether it's part of the installation, if we have a fire that's originated from a piece of equipment or that installation, then that needs to be reported to us.

Michael Gibson:

Other examples could well be the arc flash or we'd look at... Goodness, arc flash events. Sorry, yeah. We look at arc flash, particularly where that property damage was caused by the performance of the electrical work. Now I've got examples where a neutral may be left of, we've got floating voltages, I've got other examples where we've got transposed conductors and switchboards have been damaged, that type of thing. They are all, may instigate significant property damage and they certainly need to be reported.

Michael Gibson:

We spoke about, on a number of occasions, unlicensed electrical work. Now we are taking a lot of work in this regard for this year. We're very concerned by the amount of work that people are either undertaking or advertising for on online media. We're going to blitz it and we're going to continue to blitz it, because we think it's a constant issue in our industry. Reporting unlicensed electrical work is a really important part of your life and you can provide that information to us. What we would expect, but there's that level of knowledge that you have become aware when you identify that unlicensed work. You may observe the work, you may speak to a member of the public, or you may be told by other people.

Michael Gibson:

That would all constitute as unlicensed work and it needs to be reported as much information as you can provide. It can be reported as part of that process and then our inspectors will follow it up and do a detailed review of that information you've provided. It's really helpful, if you see it, observe it, report it. We'll triage it and if we can, we'll take the action necessary as part of our legislation requirements.

Michael Gibson:

The other one we look about it is the performance of electrical work resulting in a personal property being unsafe. This is a little bit different to significant property damage. It could be a worker exposing themself. They've left a power point off a wall, they've left unterminated cabling, it could be any of those situations where as a result of that work, something now is not safe.

Michael Gibson:

The other one we talk about is serious electrical incident. Now, this is a little bit easier and a little bit less qualification. Unfortunately if a person is killed by electricity, it's a mandatory recording, that is a give me. A person receives a shock or injury and that's treated by a doctor, then that would be defined as a SEI and is reportable to us, or if a person receives a shock as a result of high voltage work. All those instances are reportable as SEI events. When they get reported to us, they'll get allocated to an inspector. An inspector will have a detailed review of that scene.

Michael Gibson:

I've got a little bit more information about what we want you to do in regard to the scene, but it's really important that we protect that scene, we don't touch any of that equipment, and then we will either release the scene over the phone or you'll get that opportunity to make it safe and then an inspector will attend and we'll take carriage of that scene in the interim.

Michael Gibson:

I mean, these types of matters they deserve to be investigated. I want people to understand that that's why you're reporting it, apart from being a mandatory requirement, the people involved in any of those incidents they deserve to know what happened. We want industry to understand that when we look at it, we're trying to confirm legislative requirements, but also trying to confirm what was the cause of it and how we can stop it happening in other situations. It's really important when we have serious electrical incidents that they get reported to us.

Michael Gibson:

That's one of the other areas we spoke about, is about that not disturbing the scene. Report the incident, but do not disturb the scene. You are allowed to make it safe, make it safe, report it to us, and then we'll follow it up with an inspector and make sure that the evidence stays as it is so we can do a detailed examination and we haven't contaminated that scene. That's pretty well it for serious electrical incidents.

Michael Gibson:

Now the other thing is the avenues that you can report those matters to us. Reporting complaints obviously we've got a website, there's clear directions in regard to the website. There's incident notification process, and there's an actual form that you'll fill out online and send that in. Also, you can email us at that email address and certainly contact us if you've got any concerns. You'll get put through one of our dedicated call staff and they'll get back to you with any information they can. At this stage, Chris, thank you.

Chris Bombolas:

Thanks, Gibbo. I'm calling Gibbo, Gibbo, because we've got two Michaels, just to save the confusion, but that was Michael Gibson. We're going to move along to our next topic and solar systems, all the rage at the moment. Everybody wants one of those on top of their roof, save their energy bills, and to save the planet maybe long-term. We wanted to discuss solar PV system safety and to do that, please welcome Michael Heinemann from the Electrical Safety Office.

Michael Heinemann:

Thanks, Chris. Good morning everyone, thanks for taking the time to join us today. Today I'm going to run through a little bit about solar safety with you. To kick off I thought we'll just talk about how much is out there. As you can see there, there's quite a number of systems connected in Queensland already, 715,000. We have one in three households have solar, making us a world leader in that regard. In 2020, in July this year, you can see there 6000 businesses and residential systems were connected. In 2019, one solar system was installed every nine minutes. That means a lot of you are doing a lot of work out there.

Michael Heinemann:

If we look what's coming to the future, Queensland is expected to spike 20% of its electricity consumption by renewable energy sources and heading up to 50% by 2030. As we progress towards this target, the safety in all aspects of installing solar, so that's design, the construction, and the operation of these systems is quite crucial. Solar is becoming more affordable, and that were headed to a 50%, means we're going to end up doing a lot more work in that space.

Michael Heinemann:

When you're looking at all the aspects of your design and that and your installation, please make sure that you look at your equipment, make sure that it is compliant, it's certified, and purchased from your certified suppliers. The other thing I'd like to probably point out in that space too, is that while we're installing these things and we install them and they're compliant, we need to make sure that the follow-on phase, which is the maintenance of these things. These things are designed to last for about 20 to 25 years. We need to ensure that whoever we're providing them to is understanding that maintenance requirements. The standard reference's lifetime, and I suppose the operating, and we want it to operate safely for its lifetime and really in the Queensland sun, that's going to be a hard task.

Michael Heinemann:

The next part I thought I'd just touch on is around compliance. What you can see on your screen there is just some common concerns that we found from our audits and our sign inspections as inspectors. Under our wiring rules, AS3000, you can see there around sections two, three, and five. Starts around how you install it, how you protect it, and how you earth it, and the standard regarding to PV systems, is around section three, four, and five. The safety issues, how you install that equipment, and the marking and documentation. Very crucial to the operator and the customer to understand what's going on down the track.

Michael Heinemann:

One thing I will say though, that saying that you didn't know or you weren't aware of the standards or the compliance, is something that's not acceptable. As a professional, it's up to you to know that, it's also up to you to make sure your customer's aware of everything upfront when you're going to potentially install a system. It's not only just going in and installing a system, give them the whole picture so they know. You don't go and buy a brand new BMW and never service it in it's lifetime, so a solar system is no different.

Michael Heinemann:

Okay, and the next area there I'd just like to touch on is just making you aware of all the standard, codes of practice and guidelines that are out there. We've got the big one at the top there which is our bible, wiring rules, AS3000. 3008 for your cable selection, 5033 and 4777 in regards to your inverters and your PV systems, 5139, which is our battery standards, which has just been released. Some of you may be aware of the code of practice for the construction operation of solar farms and I'll touch a little bit more on that later. Also, don't forget your industry bodies for your technical help and guidance information, particularly around certified products, if you're unsure what you're buying is not correct, and also for your design installation practices.

Michael Heinemann:

A couple of things on those standards, 5033, amendments one and two have now been published for 12 months, so that they're certainly enforced, and certainly the new battery standard 5139. The other thing to touch on too with standard, codes of practice guidelines, make sure you're up to date as I said previously. Not knowing or saying, "I wasn't aware," really isn't an excuse. Does your business have a mechanism for keeping your work practices and standards current?

Michael Heinemann:

Okay, the next area I wanted to touch on, was isolators and disconnectors. You can see on your screen there, we can see what happens when things go wrong and they end up on a black goopy mess on the roof or potentially somewhere else. These pieces of equipment are vital for a solar system, for it's safe operation, for it's maintenance and for isolation in an emergency. The correct installation is vital. Ensure you select the appropriate one for it, it's going to be installed. Looking at it's location, it's voltage, it's current rating, is it a certified product? That's when you would start to look at the electrical equipment safety scheme database, or the EESS data base, which we've developed and are pushing out. When they're installed, as you can see there on the picture on the left, they install it vertically unless you're allowed to install them otherwise by the manufacturer.

Michael Heinemann:

You're cables enter into these, or your conduits enter in, enter in through the bottom, not through the top face. The idea being that we want this long-term water ingress to not be an issue, so being the way it is, it'll hopefully keep the water out. When you mount it, seal it up, seal it up appropriately as per the manufacturers instructions, ensuring that you've got a nice tight seal and no water can get in there. The other thing too, if it's out in the weather, make sure you've got an appropriate shroud over it so that it's not exposed to direct weather or sunlight, so that you maintain the running of the enclosure.

Michael Heinemann:

Installation practices. What you can see on your screen there is what happens when it's not quite installed quite right, ends up a lovely charred mess. Depending on where it is, it can cause quite a lot of damage. Some of the common things that we do come across when we're doing our inspections is in particular cables laying on roofs, plastic cable ties used as primary support, cable glands are not the appropriate type. As an example, just a single hole gland, once you use it for multiple cables, you should have a multi hole gland. IP ratings are not being maintained, so silicon is not appropriate, nor is drilling holes in enclosures to drain the moisture. Conduits not joined appropriately, lose connections or mismatched connectors. All these things you'll find have been standard pick up on our standards through various amendments. Make sure you cross these and install the things correctly.

Michael Heinemann:

One of the biggest problems we do have with the solar systems is water ingress. As soon as it gets in, we start to have the issues, we start to see some of the pictures you've seen before. Okay, I just wanted to touch on earthing a little bit here. If we just look at this picture here, it just looks like a pretty good example of an earthed PV module. If you have a little close look at it, you can actually see there, what would appear to have a chemical reaction between dissimilar metals, which has occurred over a period of time. Now, that will affect the earthing of that module, so it's critical that you get the earthing of your systems correct to ensure that everything gets kept at earth potential and leads to no one getting a shock off a system if there was something wrong.

Michael Heinemann:

Ensure that your connections are fit for purpose, follow any manufactures instructions. That would include any tool setting, particularly when you're tightening up a bolt. Make sure it's protected against corrosion, ensure that the system can be maintained or have repairs done to it without affecting earthing of the whole system. Make sure you never use self-tapping screws or POP rivets to make your connections onto the frames.

Michael Heinemann:

Okay, roof spaces, many of you can probably point out a lot of things in that picture of what's wrong and what's right. Just wanted to point out that roof spaces can be a dangerous place for anyone going into those. Very important with solar DC cables when they are run in ceiling spaces or wall cavities or under floors for that matter, that they are running metallic or HD conduit. Your AC cables, if they're running in this space, are to be run as the requirements of AS3000, particularly pay attention to the areas that are deemed likely to be disturbed so that you put the appropriate mechanical protection in there. The other part with the roof space is your own work procedures. When you're getting up into these spaces to do some work, we recommend turning the power off and also having a safe system of work to manage yourself while you're in that space.

Michael Heinemann:

Safe operations, so the safe operation of a system is crucial, not only for just turning it on, but also over it's lifetime and the different people that may interact with it. A solar system is a long-term investment for an owner or a business or anyone that matter. It's very, I suppose, crucial that they are aware of the requirements to have that system operating safely. I'm going to be touching on the maintenance requirements.

Michael Heinemann:

In 5033, clause 5.7, it gives you that you must provide the customer documentation. That documentation will include maintenance. Also, look at the manufacturers instructions on it to be able to put together a detailed plan for your customer. The other parts of that, we talk about the labelling, so the labelling of it teaches how to operate it correctly, provides detailed information for emergency situations, how to shut it down.

Michael Heinemann:

Okay, I said earlier that I'd touch a little on solar farms or what is not a solar farm. From the code of practice there you can see a short little definition around what a solar farm is considered to be, of at least a 100kW, and will be operated or maintained by a person conducting a business or undertaking. With that said, solar farms are not just parcels of land with thousands of panels on them, with a direct connection to the HV network, they can be simply on top of a building like we're in today that qualify into that definition. It's something we're coming across a little bit more and more in our inspections that persons conducting a business or undertaking aren't aware that they actually have a solar farm, the code of practice that comes into play to provide them information to meet their duties.

Michael Heinemann:

Please ensure that, if you are in this area, that your customers are aware of that. Section five of that code of practice details, how to meet your duties in regards to operation and maintenance? Some other considerations I'd just like to raise. I mean, we are talking about electrical safety this week, but given that it is solar systems and where they're installed, I'd just like to touch on a couple of other ones, which are around falls from heights, slips, trips and falls. Things falling from heights, objects, hazardous manual tasks, depending on where you are, particularly say an example a solar farm and installing thousands of infusers. You may have a plant onsite, exposed to the noise, excavation on the larger jobs, heat stress and fatigue management. Please keep your other considerations in relation to work with health and safety at the forefront of your mind as well. With that being said, that's me. Thank you very much.

Chris Bombolas:

Thanks, Michael. You can see on the screen there some of the key contact details there, the 1300 number, 1300362128, and then our website contact details for all things ESO. Well, it's time now to put our speakers to a panel situation. If you'd like to throw a question at either of the Michaels, or to Mat Rogers, all you have to do is type your name and question via the chat box to the right of your screen. Get them in quick, because we've only got about 10 or 15 minutes to wind up today's proceedings. Get in as many questions as we can to Mat, Michael, and of course, Gibbo. You guys all good to go? Yes, I can see the three wise men, yes.

Michael Heinemann:

Yeah.

Michael Gibson:

Ready.

Chris Bombolas:

First question is from Dom and it's to Mat. You spoke about setting goals with your wife every three months, what's your next big goal in life? Share with us what it is in the next three months other than going to a hotel on the Gold Coast again, one that you haven't been to so far.

Mat Rogers:

Well, thanks Chris. Thanks, Dom. Well, there's a couple of things we're working on a lot right now. Our son Max he's 14, we're working on getting him involved in sport and finding the right sort of path for him. That's the big goal at the moment, that's the one we're really focusing on. All our other kids are really active, Max is a little bit sort of more , so we're trying to sort of get him out there and get him into stuff, and I'm writing a book at the moment. I'm writing it, not ghost, that's me, yes. You heard that here. Yeah, the goal is to have a number one bestseller.

Chris Bombolas:

Having heard you speak today and with some of the content, possible content that could be in it, I'll be the first one to line up for a copy of that one. I've got a quick question before we go to our next question, and it's to you Michael, not Gibbo, Michael Heinemann. Michael, you spoke about the installations and it was aimed at contractors and electricians and the experts. As a consumer, as someone who has a solar system on his roof and it's only recently been put in, how do I know all of that has been done correctly? I'm no expert. I can't look up at the roof and go, "Gee, I hope everything's good." How do I know or have the confidence that that work is competent in the first place?

Michael Heinemann:

I guess we'll go back probably to the start there, that Chris, most important thing is to make sure the person you've got installing it is licensed.

Chris Bombolas:

Yup.

Michael Heinemann:

You can do that on our website and check they are licensed. At the end of the job though, your contractor will give you required documentation around your solar system and also documentation to say they've done the work safely according to our electrical legislation, which is called a certificate of compliance or you might here it being called a certificate of test. He's got to give you one of those and that's actually him saying that, "I've done the work for you today. This is the work I've done and it has been done to the regulations." You'll also find some electrical contractors are registered as a clean energy installer, so they've also gone through a process where their work is audited to ensure that they are installing to the regulations, to the standards, and they guarantee that work as well.

Chris Bombolas:

Going back to Gibbo and your presentation, that if that work hasn't been done correctly and he signed a document that says I've done that to the proper standards, then they're liable for that or could face potential prosecution?

Michael Heinemann:

Yeah, that's what I'd say yes to. Now, if you come across that and you think somethings not quite right as Michael said, we've got reporting mechanisms there. Comes through, gets triaged and someone like myself potentially will be knocking on your door to ask to have a look at it and do that check out for you.

Chris Bombolas:

The unfortunate part about that is that quite often it's not until an incident occurs or a problem occurs that you realize that there is a problem.

Michael Heinemann:

Yes, that's right, unfortunately, yeah.

Chris Bombolas:

Mm-hmm.

Michael Heinemann:

I suppose what I said, upfront, making sure they are licensed to start with, they should be giving you at least a certificate which sometimes may be on an invoice to say that they've done it to the standard, at least you've got something to say of that nature. Other thing I suppose to look for, you might notice that the person is affiliated to industry bodies and things like that to give you some assurance that they've got the technical help behind to do the job.

Chris Bombolas:

Cool. Okay. Let's go back to you, Mat. We've got a question from Nicole, and Nicole's wondering, how do you manage every day stress? In addition to the Queen's tips on how to manage an injury, mam was very good to you on that occasion in the 90 seconds that you spent with her and her corgi's. What else have you found effective?

Mat Rogers:

Well, on the stress front I'll say that stress it's in everyone's life, I mean, that's the reality of it. We've all got things, but one thing that I've learnt to do is to manage it. Making sure I'm not creating more by not doing what I'm meant to do. I think we create a lot of stress in our life by making poor decisions and I think a lot of the things that we potentially should be doing and that we are doing are probably different and that can create some stress in your life. I try to get on top of things early and quick. My life's a bit of a zoo. There's a lot going on with kids and different stuff and a lot of stuff like this that I do and writing a book. There's a lot of stuff that sort of can build up in my life and I try to be as organized as possible. That's probably one of the most important things that I find, is being organized and having things in order and then just ticking off boxes really, and it feels good.

Mat Rogers:

I mean, I got to tell you, when I've got something that I have to do and it's sort of stressing me out, I just sort of try to break it down into little steps. If you look at the whole big picture of what you've got to do at the end of the day, it can really sort of fluster you a little bit and create a little bit more stress that's undue. I'd say just sort of stay on top of the little things and the big picture will sort of come into focus.

Mat Rogers:

On the injury side of things, I have had a lot of injuries in my life, there's no question. Some little ones and some big ones, but I just sort of see professionals. I let them do their job. That's probably the most important thing. I've been known to be pretty good at the old self-diagnosis, but I've realized that Dr. Google isn't quite as good as actually going and sitting down with someone who's got years and years of experience and helping me understand what I need to do to get things better. If I can recommend anything, it's yeah, stuff the internet and go and see a professional.

Chris Bombolas:

You played in an era where they were just coming into that professional medical treatment and stuff like that, with ice baths and recovery and all of that. Injury prevention, were you any good at that?

Mat Rogers:

No.

Chris Bombolas:

No.

Mat Rogers:

I didn't like stretching. The ice baths I still scratch on my head and wonder what they were good for, but I'm sure that they do something. No, it wasn't ideal, but look, at the end of the day, if you're in a physical workspace, you're going to hurt yourself. I always used to say, when I played a game of football, it wasn't like, "If this is going to hurt," it's how much it's going to hurt today. That's the reality of the profession that I played, but it's just staying on top of things. The prevention wasn't so good, but definitely the post injury or soreness or whatever I had to deal with, I made sure that I got on top of it pretty quick.

Chris Bombolas:

All right, another one for you. If you see signs in mate or a family member that they're struggling, what's the best way to check in, because it's always an awkward conversation? I think as humans we feel awkward started that conversation. How do you check in on them without making it really obviously that you're checking in?

Mat Rogers:

I don't think it's an issue not to be obvious, I really don't. When I was going through a bit of a challenge a couple years ago and my brother was very upfront of why he wanted to speak to me, and it made me feel good about that he'd recognized something. Can I just say this, I don't want this to come across the wrong way, you know in Australia it's like, "Let's go have a beer and have a chat?" Can I just recommend not doing that? Go and do it over a cup of coffee, or go and do it in an environment that doesn't change your way of thinking. I think it's so easy as Australian's, it's just, "Let's go to the pub and have a beer and check in on how things are going." I think you got to give this situation the time and the importance that it deserves. If you feel like a mate's struggling, be brave, that's probably one of the other things I'd say. Be brave and have the courage to go and sit down and check in, because I'll tell you what's harder, is dealing with the consequence of not.

Mat Rogers:

I had to deal with that and albeit I didn't recognize the signs at the time, but I'll tell you what, if I had the opportunity to go back in time and sit down in front of my dad and ask him the tough questions that needed to be asked, I'll tell you what, it would've been a lot easier than dealing with what I had to deal with, all the ramifications of not. Be brave, I'll say. Go and sit down in an environment that isn't influenced by alcohol, and ask the question. Be real, I mean, that's probably the most important thing, being real. Don't be flippant about it. Ask the question, if you don't feel like you've got the right answer, ask it again. It's not that people don't want to tell you, but it's a hard thing to talk about when you're struggling, and I've been there.

Mat Rogers:

It's hard to talk about, but they'll be grateful as a friend, or a family member, if you've gone down and sit with them and you've taken the time out. You've been brave enough to ask them how they're doing, what can you do to help, and maybe recommending going and seeing someone.

Chris Bombolas:

Gibbo, one for you. This is coming from Wayne in Wayne's World. He wants to know, when you report an incident, what happens next? Where does it go from there?

Michael Gibson:

Okay, Wayne. Yeah, I think I discussed it a little bit. Yeah, when you report an incident to us, you'll certainly get a record of that report and then it'll be triaged internally. Now, if that triaging requires that matter to be allocated to an inspector, then an inspector will be allocated the job, and you'll certainly be contacted by the inspector. He'll attend site, if that's possible, conduct his examination on site, and if it's required, he'll take the necessary enforcement action. Now, our priority in most instances is going to be to address the electrical safety risk of that report and then we'll determine if there's been any breaches in legislation and the inspector will take that appropriate enforcement action. In any case you'll always get a feedback or result of that outcome, whether there has or hasn't been enforcement action taken. The person who's made that notification will always be informed on the outcome of the investigation.

Chris Bombolas:

Okay. Great. Fair advice. We've got a couple more questions, we need to wind up the panel session and bring a close our presentation. For you Michael another one, for installers what's the biggest risk and how do they eliminate it?

Michael Heinemann:

Okay, so just the biggest risk is not probably understanding the job first before you go into it. It's very important that you go and check it out first. From what I've seen originally in solar, that our system was sold by someone who didn't have any knowledge of what needed to be done, which then put pressure on the person installing that. To hit the targets of whether it was you're only needing X amount of dollars to install this or you've only got X amount of hours or days or whatever it is to get the job done. I would certainly recommend take the time to go and have a look and assess it properly. No different to any risk assessment methodology they would use in the safety world as well. Certainly don't shortcut the corners. I think to eliminate that risk is a thorough inspection of the job at first.

Chris Bombolas:

All right, here's another one for you. If you can drill holes in a DC isolator enclosure to drain out water, what can you do to prevent moisture build up?

Michael Heinemann:

I guess the first thing is ensuring from the onset that you install it as per the instructions from the manufacturer. The enclosures should be designed and certified to a name or level, which is a requirement now from our regulations. If you still coming across these types of issues, I recommend going back to the manufacturer and having that discussion around what else can we do. He may be able to fit a purpose made any condensation drain, you can only fit those if the manufacturer's going to allow them to be fitted or they have one for that product that you're using.

Chris Bombolas:

Okay. You might know this one, Michael. This name looks familiar, Brian R. Where can I find out more info on battery installation? Is this a loaded question by the way, do we know Brian R?

Michael Heinemann:

No, I wouldn't know at all after the last couple of days. As I mentioned earlier, there is the new standard 5139, but from an industry perspective there are a group of industry bodies that have got together and put together a best practice guide around battery installations and their electrical requirements. If you Google best battery installation, you'll get some searches there around a guide, which you can download. It doesn't cost you anything to download it, go grab it. It gives you steps through the stages of your installation, to how to install it. It also, sorry, gives you a risk management process as well, particularly when you're dealing with batteries and explosions and things like that.

Chris Bombolas:

All right, last question, and I thank everybody at home who's logged in or at work and joining us for our webinar this morning, particularly with some of the questions that you've offered up for our panel. You can bring us home, Gibbo. This is from Bill M. compliance activity. What and how will you be engaging in the following areas, and we know from yesterday from the summit about regional and rural Queensland has got a few issues that are bubbling and that we need to address urgently. So the following areas, Isaac, Hinchinbrook, Mount Isa, Cloncurry, Gladstone.

Michael Gibson:

Yeah, I mean, as Donna stated, those areas did come up in hospital admissions data and some of our data that we evaluate. We certainly don't want to just concentrate on areas where there's high levels of population. We do want to get our inspectors out into the regions and those particular locations like Isa and Cloncurry and Gladstone, we are planning on doing like a one week activity where we will do a bit of a combination of engagement and compliance activities. Now, we will certainly liaise with the local councils, the major contractors in those areas where we can actually have some one-on-one discussion with them. Have a look at some of the installations, any new constructions that are going on out there and just really get that rapport going with them so they feel a little bit more confident, they can report matters to us, and we get a bit of our feel of how the compliance level is going out in those regions.

Michael Gibson:

Like I said, they are remote some of those areas, but they certainly shouldn't feel like we're not going to engage with them and we will take enforcement action in those areas where we do determine and identify breaches of our legislation. That's really important for us, Chris. Yeah.

Chris Bombolas:

Yeah, and look, it won't be engagement just with the electrical experts, you'll be with community leaders, real estate, with key players in that industry.

Michael Gibson:

I think that's critical, Chris. I mean, yeah if we got the major players, like the real estate. Yeah, I agree. Sometimes we won't know all the key stakeholders, but we'll do a lot of research at that front end and we welcome people contacting us in those areas to come and find us and see what we can do.

Chris Bombolas:

Including the CWA?

Michael Gibson:

Oh, yes.

Chris Bombolas:

Who we heard from yesterday, who will be having an ear into the husbands to make sure they are electrically safe.

Michael Gibson:

Yes, the worlds great influences.

Chris Bombolas:

Yes. Well, thank you very much to the panel for joining us, for answering your questions. Thank you for your questions. Certainly there's a few other ways you can get involved in electricity safety week, which runs through until the 11th. Every day this week we are posting a question for electrical workers on our Facebook page. All you have to do is answer the question correctly and you could win one of five $100 trade equipment voucher. Well worth taking the time to answer a simple question and who knows, you could be getting that $100 trade equipment voucher. If you're an electrical apprentice or a supervisor, why not join us tomorrow morning at the bright and bubbly time of 6:30 AM where we will have another webinar, specifically aimed at you guys.

Chris Bombolas:

Today's webinar was recorded, minus Mat's presentation as a whole. It will be available at electricalsafety.qld.gov.au, along with a wide range of other electrical safety information and resources. Shortly we will be emailing all of you guys who joined us today, a feedback survey. We really do value your feedback. It helps us shape these kind of events, particularly now that we're moving into a digital world and we need to look at different ways of connecting with our audiences. Love your feedback, let us know what you like, what you didn't like, what you want more of, what you want less of. We take that all into consideration when we mould these events for 2021 and into the future.

Chris Bombolas:

Just in closing, on behalf of the Electrical Safety Office, I'd just like to say thanks to our very special guest, Mat Rogers. Good luck with the book, Mat. Really appreciate you sharing and opening up to us and showing us the way to open up ourselves.

Mat Rogers:

No worries.

Chris Bombolas:

Thank you, good luck in the future.

Mat Rogers:

Pleasure.

Chris Bombolas:

We look forward to you joining us in future events. For you at home, thanks for joining us, or at work, we appreciate you joining us here and taking part in our webinar. We hope to see you in the very near future, but in the meantime, please stay safe, especially electrically.

[End of Transcript]

Apprentice and supervisor webinar

Dan and Ed, TradeMutt

Dan and Ed are tradies and cofounders of TradeMutt, an Australian workwear brand. Together they discussed the stigmas around mental health in men and the importance of taking care of your own mental health.

Chris Bombolas:

Good morning everyone, and welcome to our apprentice and supervisor webinar. I'm Chris Bombolas, I'll be your MC for this very special presentation. Can I firstly start by acknowledging respectfully the traditional owners and custodians of the land on which we meet and elders past, present and emerging. Well, as you're well aware, it is Electricity Safety Week and we've had a host of activities going on and today is no exception. Electricity Safety Week reminds us all, that while electricity helps power our everyday lives, it can be dangerous.

Chris Bombolas:

The ESO is hosting free digital events focusing on health and safety in the industry, particularly, a focus on mental health. These events are tailored for industry leaders, electrical workers, contractors and apprentices. On Tuesday we had the Electricity Safety Summit and heard from Dave Burt, talking about the challenges he faced at work while he battled depression. Yesterday, our webinar for electrical contractors and electricians featured football legend and Australian survivor champion Matt Rogers, and my god, he was very inspiring when he spoke about the challenges that he's faced, including how he manages stress and personal loss.

Chris Bombolas:

Today, of course, very shortly we're going to catch up with the boys from Aussie workwear brand; TradeMutt, Dan and Ed. They'll be looking at the stigmas around mental health during our digital session, especially for you guys, the apprentices and supervisors in the electrical industry. Today also happens to be World Suicide Prevention Day, and R U Okay? Day. That reminds me of what Dave Burt told us, or informed us about and it's a question that we should be asking our mates, what's happening in your world? To open discussions that quite often are very difficult to have. So on World Suicide Prevention Day and R U Okay? Day I'd like to encourage you all to maybe get the ear of a mate and ask, "What's happening in your world?"

Chris Bombolas:

As I said, today we have some very special guests, the boys from TradeMutt, Dan and Ed, Glen Cook from Energy Queensland will be joining us as well, and arc flash survivor Mark. So I acknowledge their presence today and their contribution in our presentation today. If you have questions for our speakers, because we do have a panel session at the end, type your full name and question via the chat box to the right of the livestream, we'll ask them during the panel session at the end of our session today. Your full name must be entered, so you are eligible for a competition that we have as well, and we know who to contact. To change the size of your screen, select the four small arrows next to the volume bar at the bottom of your screen.

Chris Bombolas:

Now, I mentioned the competition, we love a competition at the ESO. We have five TradeMutt vouchers to give away today. You'll learn a bit more about TradeMutt from Dan and Ed very, very shortly, but the gift vouchers will allow you to select from a range of bright, out there, high quality workwear shirts, and hats, and gear. So get your questions ready. Dan and Ed are wearing some of those examples today, and they are bright, and they are loud, and they get the message across. So I look forward to catching up with the boys very, very shortly. For your chance to win those TradeMutt vouchers, all you need to do is submit the question for any of our speakers, so stay tuned, get those questions in. If your question gets asked during the panel session, you'll go into the draw to win those vouchers.

Chris Bombolas:

If you're watching from a conference or teaching rooms, and I know we have a number of those out there in digital world, you can still participate. All you have to do is get your phones, register via the website, if you haven't already, and submit your questions via the chat box like everybody else, and bingo, you're in there with a chance to win those TradeMutt vouchers. One of the real issues in the electrical industry is arc flash. Today, we'll hear from a survivor, Mark, very, very shortly. Mark's arc flash accident left him in hospital for around three weeks and off work for almost three months. Mark's sharing his story to raise awareness about life-saving consequences of working live. So let's hear Mark's story.

Mark:

I've been an electrician for about 18 years now and I'm very confident in what I do, and I still ended in hospital. I've got up that day, a standard day, not thinking anything of it. I said I'll bounce in and do that power quality assessment we had to do. I'd assessed the work to be done live, and I was very confident of what had to get done, it was possible to do it live. All I need to do is clip on these four crocodile clips, which isn't a hard task, you know what I mean? I can see the buzz bar. I've clipped on the first one. And then I went to clip on the second one. But as soon as I've touched it, it just went boom. Just white-yellow flashed on my face and just a really disgusting noise. And then I wasn't unconscious, but I realized what had happened and I could just smell it. All my hair burnt, my skin was all burning and I could see all my clothes were burnt and things. My skin was hanging off and that. I was just all black.

Mel:

So when I first found out that he'd had the accident, I was at work, but when I answered the phone I couldn't actually understand what he was saying. He was all gibberish. But all I got was, "I'm in a bad way, I'm being taken to hospital." I just, I panicked, yeah?

Mark:

In Mark's case, while he was working on the switchboard, as a result of attempting to pull off two pieces of insulation, he exposed the risk of two separate electrical phases. In bridging that out with his screwdriver, he's created a large arc flash with high volt current available inside the switchboard, which resulted in a large fireball, which burnt Mark considerably.

Mel:

When I first walked in to see him, he was in a hospital bed and he was just black, and his hair was singed.

Mark:

The injuries that I actually sustained would've been, it was actually 12 per cent body burns. So that involved skin grafts. For that to heal, they grind your skin off and then lay it on top of the burns.

Mel:

So the next day after the skin grafts, as soon as I walked into his room in the burns ward, he was just head to toe in bandages. He looked like a mummy. I think that's when it hit me.

Mark:

The first week was not an enjoyable time. I was on splints, full arm splints, leg splints, couldn't even pick my own nose. Every second day I had to get all my dressings took off. So you've got dressings stuck on your skin grafts all stuck in here, so you need to go in your shower and then get all wetted up to release all the stickiness of it. And then take it off, and it just sticks to your skin and it's sore. I didn't know what I going to look like. I ended up in hospital for three weeks, and off work for three months. And what I didn't realize then during what I was going through, how it hurt Mel. How it emotionally strained her. Mentally and emotionally. It's not a nice feeling that the person you love is obviously upset and hurt because of what's happened to you.

Mel:

Mark definitely didn't realize how much his accident had affected me, the realization of how serious it was. He could've died. Just had no idea. When Mark started having his rehab, that was hard, because he had been in hospital for such a long period of time without moving. He was really happy when he called me that he told me he'd walked for the first time with his Zimmer frame. So he still had to lean on it, but I was really proud.

Mark:

It was also a big emotional burden that's getting put on your loved ones, whether it be wife, your family, your parents or something. It thus puts an emotional burden on them.

Mel:

He loves his work. He loves to be always keeping his mind active. So when he couldn't go straight back to work that also held some frustrations and I think a little bit of anger. I was really happy to see him back at work. I do want to be with him for the rest of my life, so I am grateful that he has healed.

Mark:

You can prevent arc flash by eliminating the hazard. Turn the power off and isolate the equipment. Even if that means rescheduling the work for another time. Remember, working near energized parts can be just as dangerous as performing live work. Arc flash risk isn't just limited to large switchboards, they can also occur in smaller switchboards, electrical supply pillars, and even large electrical equipment. So plan your work, and always follow your safe working procedures.

Mark:

I think one thing that I would like to get out there after my accident is just to, all the other Sparkies out there, is just don't work live. Don't put yourself in situations where, or like I was, just because you're trying to please a client, just because you're trying to get the job done faster. If you've got a wife, kids, family, it's just not worth it. Nothing's worth your life.

Chris Bombolas:

Well, that is an inspiring story, and Mark is truly grateful that he is a survivor because it could've gone very, very, very badly south. It is a pleasure that I introduce Mark. He does have a message for each and every one of the 56,000 electrical workers and 12,000 contractors in Queensland. Mark, please join us.

Mark:

Thank you Chris. Okay, thank you. Well, good morning everyone. It's an early one this morning. First of all, I'd just like to thank Electrical Safety Office, and Workplace Queensland, and Chris as well for just giving me the opportunity to speak again at one of the webinars, just to try and emphasize the point I was trying to get across here. I think as well sometimes that we forget that, especially now more than ever, that the world's in a bit of a crazy situation at the moment, that we also need to sit back sometimes and remember that we're lucky enough to be living in a society, or live in a country where we've got organizations, or governments as such, that are willing to spend money to teach us electricians, or try and educate us and just give something back to us. So basically, all of this is done just to keep my fellow electricians safe. So we might not agree with the governments and that at times, but I think when they put money aside to do things like this for us, it's appreciated.

Mark:

So it's supervisors and apprentice day today, and as a Sparkie, sure there's a few Sparkies out there watching. I'm sure we all know that we've... I believe anyway that it is every tradesman's or supervisor's duty of care or social responsibility to train our apprentices, because I'm sure we've all worked with that one apprentice, or a few apprentices, I'll try not to swear here, that's pretty incompetent. So what we need to remember as being tradesmen, Sparkies, even Chippies, plumbers and that. I believe that these apprentices, they don't really know anything when they come to work as Tradies. So it's up to us. I'd say we've got a social responsibility to teach them. And I think when it comes to safety, you want to be teaching these guys at a very young age. And if they are coming out of it 16, 17, 18 years old, you've got to spend that time on a young gun, teach them about the risks associated with the future career. And that's our responsibility.

Mark:

That's you, you're the supervisor, you're the foreman, you're the team leader. It's your responsibility to sit down with the younger guys and run through your safe work method statements with them. When you're building these safe work method statements you obviously need to consult all your workers in them when you're making them. So when they're young apprentices explain to them, and explain to them why we've got control measures to reduce the risks.

Mark:

And that's something I think, I like having apprentices, because I like to teach them, and I like to just make sure they're learning because it's a nice, comforting feeling when you see them progress in their trade, or as a person as well. So just, if you're a supervisor and you're wanting that extra money in your salary, then you've got to earn it. And I think teaching and ingraining safety in the youngsters is definitely where you need to start.

Mark:

It's things like your safe work method statements for your high risk work or tasks you're doing every day. You need to make sure when the guys are signing these and before the jobs, and you need to make sure they're reading them, and you want to make sure they understand them, because anyone can sign that bit of paper and go off and do their job. But you've got that responsibility to make sure they understand and make sure they're implementing these control measures. And also for maybe some guys that are only working on larger sites, they may be doing multiple service calls each day. You're going to make sure your job safety analysis are getting done, prior to any work getting started.

Mark:

And what I used to do was, I'd get the apprentices to fill them out. Obviously, I'm with them, but I'm getting them used to filling out those paperwork and actually having a look around and identifying hazards. Getting them to think about it. Not just saying, "Look, sign this bit of paper here." But actually, explain to them what they'll do. Just because if we don't teach them when they're young, they're not going to turn into good tradesmen and we may get unfortunate accidents happen.

Mark:

So, just really keep on at them and they're not going to get it first time, they're only young boys, man. So just make sure you're spending that time and addressing why we take a few steps back before we do any work and assess the risks. And then if we need to implement some control measures, we implement them and safely do that. And then for example is, it's just something I've seen over the last year or two, as there's been a few Sparkies have been dying when they're working in roofs, or working on conductive roofs. And I just think that's something that we need to remember is, when you're jumping up there, you're just going to do some residential work. You might just be helping out a friend, or a family friend.

Mark:

So you really need to remember is, there could be a lot of dodgy work done before you and so obviously the insulation that was getting installed that way, always quite dangerous. So if you're crawling in roof spaces, that should actually really be turning the power off before you go in there. Addressing the fact that there could be some unseen or unknown electrical hazards in that roof. And I really think that... I've seen that in even the last few months the guys haven't been doing it and I've been explaining to them, "Look, I don't care if the customer is not happy about the power going off. You turn that power off, or you don't go in that roof. And sometimes you've got to stand up and say, "No, that's just the way we're doing it. I don't care if you're sitting playing on your computer or if you're doing something. I'm going to turn your power off, because that's a safe way of doing it.""

Mark:

So just make sure you're speaking to your apprentices, and make sure you keep an eye on them. And if they're doing their own GSAs, checking them, and chatting to them about it. I know it's R U Okay? Day today, and I think it's quite fitting as we're working in teams to always have a chat with the guys, how they're doing. So we're honoured today having boys from Trademutt here, which will be speaking to you in a bit more depth about mental health and they'll know a lot more about me. But as a man, as a Sparkie, and I enjoy working in teams, I always feel when you're working in a team environment, you really want to be speaking with the guys that you're working with, making sure they're okay. I'm sure we've all been in situations where you've got colleagues that, they might not be performing a 100%, or they might just be being a bit awkward, or a bit weird, or a bit not themselves that day.

Mark:

And maybe it's somebody that you don't like as well, but I always think you should just put yourself in their shoes, and instead of jumping down someone's throat if they mess up, have a chat to them and say, "Look, mate. Is everything all right?" Do you know what I mean? "You've got some problems at home?" They might be arguing with their Mrs. They might have issues. They might have financial issues. So I think before we start getting on people's backs or when people frustrated, you should just have a chat with them. It's just is easy to assume things, but you should just chat with them and ask them if everything's going okay and don't be harsh on people before you know what's going on in their minds. So that's basically me, short and sweet this morning guys. But thank you, cheers.

Chris Bombolas:

Thanks Mark. Some very important messages there. And for all of you at home, especially the apprentices and supervisors, take heed of the warnings and the messages, it may save someone's life. And there is an extra special footnote in Mark's story. His beautiful and brave partner, Mel, you saw her in the film. Mark and her are getting married in the not-too-distant future. So on behalf of the ESO and all of us, we'd like to wish you two guys all the best in the future. So, thanks for joining us this morning Mark.

Chris Bombolas:

If you'd like to ask Mark a question, don't forget we've got the panel session coming up a little bit later. You could submit your questions. Type your full name and question via the chat box to the right of the screen. Asking questions puts you in the draw, remember, for the Trademutt gift vouchers. We've got five of those to give away. And just as a final footnote, Mark's film, which is Mark, Arc Flash Survivor, can be found at electricitysafety.qld.gov.au, along with a wide range of other electrical safety sources.

Chris Bombolas:

I've got a question for you out there who are watching. Hands up those who know about the Look Up and Live power line mapping app? Anyone? Yep, excellent. We've got a few hands up here. Well, the guy behind that is going to join us now. And I refer to Glen Cook. Cookie, as he's known affectionately from Energy Queensland. Now Cookie, has been electrician for 30 years in the construction and utilities industry. Extremely passionate about power line safety awareness, and we know that, because we do a lot of work with Cookie, and he is out there pedalling those messages. He was the driving force behind the award winning Look Up and Live free power line mapping application that helps workers plan work next to power lines. A very important issue in this industry. And to talk about his baby, here is Glen Cook.

Cookie:

Thanks Bomma. Well thank you Chris, great introduction. Thanks to the ESO for inviting me here today to talk a little bit about myself and the Look Up and Live app. As Chris said, I have been an electrician for around 30 years now. But the bulk of that time, I was on the tools, plotting poles, digging holes, putting power lines back up. Unfortunately, part of that role is, I've done over 300 shock investigations.

Cookie:

Now, part of that role as a senior inspector, as I got to be towards the middle part of my career, was attending fatalities and very serious incidents, much like Mark was talking about before where people have received severe burns and obviously, fatalities. So, my career changed about 10 years ago. Like I said, I was on the tools. I was a work group leader, as you call it, or a supervisor. I got a phone call and a accident had happened about 400 meters down the road from our depot in Hervey Bay.

Cookie:

So my boys were all at work and they're 10, 15 minutes away and I realized it was just down the road. So I said, "I'll jump in my car and go find out what's going on." I started driving down the road. I pulled up at a set of traffic lights, and I could see to my right there's a worker on top of an elevated work platform, and there's some paramedics trying to revive a person. And I've instantly gone, "This is worse than I thought."

Cookie:

You hate coming to these incidents, right? I immediately thought to myself, selfish I know, but I thought, "Why me again?" I had been to several of these incidents. I looked to my left, and it's the Hervey Bay High School. There's about 80 to a 100 kids all lined up on the fence, and they've seen it happen. So I've gone to myself, "Why don't people, why don't workers understand the laws that are around power lines?" Everything I talk about today, it is the law. The laws are in for an obvious reason. Just, people do not actually see the power lines when they're working near them.

Cookie:

So on this particular day, it was a painter operating that elevated work platform. The power lines that you can see there on the slides are 11,000 volts. So on this particular day, the painter was using an aluminium paint roller. Now, he didn't even touch those power lines. He just got too close, an arc formed, it went through him, and he was killed instantly.

Cookie:

Now, when that arc forms, it's 20 to 30,000 degrees Celsius. Like you've had a cup of coffee this morning? 70 to 80 degrees. It's 30,000 in an instant. Just a tremendous release of energy in that one point in time. We've had several fatalities in our business over the past few years. This was the last incident that occurred up in Cairns in July last year, where an operator of a Frontier crane, while moving a load around and the Frontier crane contacted an overhead power line, and the Dogger that was looking after the load was killed instantly.

Cookie:

These incidents are real, they're happening all the time. There has been seven fatalities in Queensland since 2016, and over 60 serious, high voltage contacts that are resulting in burns, serious injuries, and obviously, equipment damage. And the thing is, like we talked about before, mental health. And I've come across these incidents, so it's not just the families, and the workers, and the machinery involved, it's the Ergon and Energex workers that have to come and be involved in these incidents and their families as well. So it's just another thing to remember.

Cookie:

Why do people hit power lines? I always ask this when I do a presentation. Now the electricians out there can probably answer yes, but if you ask yourself, when you came to work this morning, how many people seen a power line? Most people would be sitting there, look at themselves going, "How did Cookie know I didn't see any power lines this morning?"

Cookie:

It's because of one thing. It's called inattentional blindness. Basically, our eyes and our brain don't work that well together. Our eyes don't work like a video camera. It doesn't capture everything in your line of sight. Our brain chooses what we want to see. Power lines are built to a standard that are away from our normal reach, and our normal every day lives. Once we start working though, it's a different story. We've got ladders, we've got elevated work platforms, we've got fire machinery, cane harvesters, cane haulout vehicles. All these different bits of machineries that can actually touch the power lines.

Cookie:

So, when I got into this safety role, I put myself in the shoes of the workers. Plumbers, builders, painters, farmers. And I quickly realized that people aren't seeing the power lines. Because I'll talk to a farmer, for example say, "So what happened on that day?" And they go, "Cookie, I 100% knew that that power line was there, I just didn't see it." Then I quickly worked out, it was this inattentional blindness and a lack of planning, right?

Cookie:

So you have to have a plan in place to actually see those power lines. Now there's a good new innovation out now, it's called a rotor marker. So if you get a plan in place, you can put these rotor markers on and this dulls the effects of inattentional blindness. It is an administration control, but it is a good control if you absolutely need to be working near that power line.

Cookie:

You really need to plan ahead, right? So I got to a point where I worked out that we've got underground power lines, but a lot of people don't hit the underground power lines, and why is that? Because they use Dial Before You Dig, and they get a plan, because they can't see the power line. When it comes to overhead power lines, most people go, "Well it's overhead, you can see it." And we're relying on people to come on site and actually see that power line, but they don't.

Cookie:

So, we've developed the Look Up and Live app, which is available in the app stores today. I'd like everyone at home to grab their phone right now, go to the app store, or go to the Google Play store and search for Look Up and Live, and download that app. It's a very handy tool. It puts power line safety right at your fingertips. If you have a look at this, you're only a couple of steps away from getting safety advice from Ergon or Energex. Jump straight in.

Cookie:

This is just a quick look at the app. Ergon, Energex, Endeavor Energy, and Powerlink have now got their assets on the map. We're now talking to a few other distributors out there that want to put their information on the app as well. So as you can see, you can just jump in, type an address, or scroll down to where you want to go to. Find your work site. This is just a work site that I picked in Gladstone. You can jump on. You can instantly see that there's power lines bordering this property. So how are we going to deliver the gear? What are we going to do on that property? Who's in charge? Who's going to be the safety observer? What is the exclusion zone around those power lines?

Cookie:

So even just looking at this property from a different angle, you instantly got the start of a small plan and you're less likely to come into contact with a power line already. You can print out the plan, jump in, call it whatever you want, press print. Spits it out as a PDF document. You can now share it with all your workers, sub contractors, and share with everyone what the plan is to work around this power line. A three meter exclusion zone and the use of a safety observer will save you every single time. But, we also want you to eliminate, for example, this one here, if it was going to be a large block of flats, let's talk to Ergon, or Energex and try and get those power lines removed before the construction site even starts. Eliminate the hazard completely. That's about it for me. But, once again, please, get on those app stores and download that app and get yourself a plan. Thanks a lot.

Chris Bombolas:

Thanks Cookie. As he mentioned, get yourself a plan. There's the app. The details you've seen on your screen. And we thank you, Cookie, for joining us here this morning. And I note we've already got some questions for you. So you better get ready. Get all your info right. And if you do have a question for Cookie, or for Dan and Ed, who are joining us shortly, or for Mark for that matter, don't forget, submit your questions. Type your full name and question via the chat box to the right of the screen.

Chris Bombolas:

Well, let's take another twist in our presentation this morning, and we're going to talk to the guys from Trademutt, Dan Allen and Ed Ross. Now, it's an Australian workwear brand that aims to make Tradies look and feel great at work. And these two look great this morning, and they've set the whole mood in the studio this morning. And in doing so, by having that feel and that look, it reduces the rate of male suicide. We're talking about things. We don't feel awkward. Dan and Ed founded the Trademutt brand after Dan lost his best mate to suicide back in 2016. The loud and vibrant shirts act as a catalyst to start a conversation, which quite often, for most of us, is a bit prickly to actually begin. So we need a starting point. And maybe this gear will give us that starting point around mental health, particularly in males. Ladies and gentleman, welcome Dan and Ed.

Dan Allen:

Well thanks very much for having us here today guys, we are super happy to be here. So as we were introduced, I'm Dan Allen, and this is Ed Ross, we're the co-founders of Trademutt. Trademutt's a social enterprise workwear company by Tradies for Tradies, and we make funky eye-catching workwear, designed to act as a catalyst to starting conversations about mental health and make that invisible issue impossible to ignore.

Dan Allen:

Now it's important on R U Okay? Day today to preface this by outlining exactly where our position is in the mental health space for trades and the blue collar sector. So we aim to drive the social and cultural shift required to all our blokes, Tradies, blue collar workers, to find it a little bit easier to open up and actually talk about mental health.

Dan Allen:

To set the tone, it's important to give you a bit of a background to the story of how Ed and I met, and how we came to be the founders of Trademutt. Ed and I met on a building site. I was a few years out in my trade, and Ed was a greenhorn, fresh off a stint wrangling cattle in Central West Queensland. And Ed had a healthy appetite for knowledge, or was extremely annoying, as people liked to describe, and I was very patient, so I got lumped with this bloke.

Dan Allen:

We formed a formidable relationship on site, and as we tend to do to get ourselves through our days, we talk a whole lot of nonsense. You know, what would you do if you won the lotto? Or what kind of businesses can we start to maybe get off the tools? We had an idea about creating some funky workwear. We thought there's nothing out there in the market. We thought that we're sick of wearing the same old khaki and high viz to work. We thought, "Come on, let's make a difference here." So we went to Office Works, we bought a pack of pencils and we printed out some paper and we started designing.

Dan Allen:

So what you can see here is probably the next Melbourne Cup winning jockey silks. Of course, you can see the polka dots there on the left, that's a very ground-breaking design that we came up with. But, of course, we're never going to produce such an ugly polka dot shirt. And we made the polka dot shirt. So obviously, we know nothing about building shirts. We can build a house, but we definitely can't build a shirt at this stage. So yeah, that polka dot design was something we just thought, "Well let's see if we can get a shirt made." Ed wore that shirt to work every day for, what, two months?

Ed Ross:

Three months I think.

Dan Allen:

Three months. Washed it every single day. It's covered in Sikaflex, silicone, all sorts of stuff. But we were worried the ink is going to run. So that's where we're at with producing a fashion brand. So fast forward two-and-a-half years, and we've actually implemented some designers and a production team to help us navigate that journey. But a very important message that appears on the top right hand pocket of all our shirts, the letters YMWA.

Dan Allen:

So the reason why we got into the mental health space, obviously, as been mentioned previously, I lost one of my best mates to suicide in 2015. Now it was my first experience with suicide, and something that really changed both of our lives and really highlighted the fact that there was a real lack of understanding around the mental health space in Australia, particularly for blokes, particularly in the blue collar industry.

Dan Allen:

We really wanted to take a bit more of a light hearted approach. Now that YMWA stands for, you'll never walk alone. So my best mate Dan, who took his life, was a die hard Liverpool supporter. And so if you're familiar with English Premier League and Liverpool, that's the song that they sing to their team before every game. It'll put the hairs on the back of your neck standing up. So that's a tribute to Dan, and it's also a message for anyone wearing any of our gear, that you're part of our community, and you will never walk alone. So fast forward two-and-a-half years, and we've got a few cool prints and we've come a long way from the polka dot shirts.

Ed Ross:

Oh, that one.

Dan Allen:

Now so whenever anyone comes onboard with Trademutt, they get that card, which we just skipped past, but it's, you take on a responsibility to show empathy, show vulnerability, and always take a non judgmental approach. Now one thing that we never saw coming when we started this journey, was that we were actually going to be able to empower people to talk about their own mental health.

Dan Allen:

So when we started this thing, the message was simple. I wear this shirt, I send a message to you that I'm okay to talk about anything that you might want to talk about, whether onsite or off site, I don't judge, and I'm always there for you. But this guy here, Carl, a Chippy from New Zealand, really broke ground for us. "Initially, I bought some shirts because I wanted to support the cause, but I found that wearing them has actually helped me too. I generally don't like attention. I'm not a fan of groups of people, and I'd rather hang out quietly in the background and do my own thing. But there's no hiding while rocking one of these bad boys. I can feel the looks when I'm in public on and off site, but I no longer care. I own it, I lift my chin, and I strut. Maybe not that dramatic, but it feels like it to me. I feel my own anxieties fade and I have a new-found confidence in myself and I very much like that." We've managed to partner with a few awesome organizations around Queensland and in Australia. Pictured here with the Hutchies Crew.

Ed Ross:

Oh, clicker. Clicker.

Dan Allen:

And we managed to crack into a few mine sites. Townsville City Council, where serves us down there as well. And that's big Ken Ross, Ed's old boy on the top right hand corner, who's never talked about mental health in his life until now.

Ed Ross:

Right-oh, so this is where I come in. So how does Trademutt take action and make a positive difference? So obviously, as we've spoken about, we've got a large range of funky out-there workwear and products that act as a catalyst to starting conversations about mental health not just once a year, but on a daily basis. Being able to build a brand with a couple of rough melons behind it. So Dan and I have been putting ourselves out there, showing a lot of vulnerability and trying to set a really good example for everyone out there that it's okay to speak up, talk to your mate, and seek help when needed.

Ed Ross:

Got a really large digital footprint at the moment, so we've been able to expand across our Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and with our podcasting as well. So we started Trademutt's 120 podcast, the podcast for the working class. We've had a wide variety of guests on there. Guys like Greg Martin, Darren Lockyer, David Shillington. We had John Millman on there the other day. J.C. from Powderfinger. Them all talking about their life experience and stuff that they've been through, resilience and how they've overcome some major hurdles in their life, and how mental health doesn't discriminate.

Ed Ross:

We've got Trademutt Toolbox Talk. So much like this, except not quite the production level. On the last Tuesday of every month, we get an industry professional to come in and speak about their field. Last month we had Lachie Stewart from the Man that Can Project, talking about the eight fundamentals that all men must master. Vertical integration with aligned projects. So, being a social enterprise ourselves, we've worked with social enterprise and non for profit manufacturing over in Cambodia to make our hoodies for this winter with the SHE Rescue Home. We're also working with SendAble, which is a third party logistics company, which warehouse and dispatch all of our products and orders every day. And they're people that work with Multicap with intellectual disability. So it's really rewarding for us to be able to make an impact through our supply chain.

Ed Ross:

And then, 5% of all our profits go into our non for profit foundation called This Is A Conversation Starter, which is... So Trademutt's 120 podcast. So you can see this on YouTube or on any podcast app. So you can see there, we've had a wide variety of guests. Sam Gardel is a good mate of ours who is a electrical business owner here in Brisbane, and he talks about his journey of starting his own business, running into some financial trouble, and then rebuilding himself, and seeking help and how that's made such a massive difference to he and his life. Here's a short clip of Matty Boise. He's a carpenter here in Brissy, and also a good mate of Gardie's and we had him on the podcast.

Matty:

How many other people just need to sit next to their mate and just go, "Hey look, I'm struggling." And then him or her to go back, "Yeah, me too." And then there's that connection, and then there's that authentic human connection where you can share your stories. That's pretty much where it was born from.

Ed Ross:

It's an interesting story, because I remember the planning apprentice, when he first reached out to us two years ago.

Dan Allen:

Jimmy?

Ed Ross:

Jimmy.

Dan Allen:

I don't think he listens.

Ed Ross:

He'd be surely listening. Jimmy, he messaged us. It's the first time he ever reached out to us. He was at TAFE on the North side, and it was smoko time or something and he's gone outside and there was a guy wearing a Trademutt shirt, and he sat down and started having a smoko with him and couple of other guys sat down and they were talking. And they basically just laid it all out that they were all struggling, they were all going through different shit, but they're all in the trenches together. And that's always stuck with me, because he was like, "No one there was trying to solve each other's problems. We were just all there knowing that we're all fucking in this together." You know what I mean?

Ed Ross:

Yeah, Trademutt Toolbox Talks. So as we were saying, at the last Tuesday of every month we get industry professionals to come on and talk to our audience. It's completely free, and you can come on and see professionals in their field talk about different areas of mental health and mental well-being, and how we can make improvements in our lives. Here's the SHE Rescue Home, as we were saying, made our hoodies this year. And then we're also been working with the Work Restart Program, which is people that are incarcerated currently, but are getting some really essential skills for live outside of prison. So they've been making some products for us as well, so boot covers and our grill skirts, barbecue aprons.

Dan Allen:

So TIACS is our charity that we've also founded off the success of Trademutt. So being able to sell some shirts has also been able to allow us to form and establish our own charity, and really complete the circle of what we consider to be our full circle approach to mental health. So as I said, Trademutt is driving the social and cultural shift around talking about mental health, but what happens when you might strike up a conversation with someone who goes a little deeper and maybe you're not sure how to help them, but you know they need to be referred onto somewhere else. Well, that's where TIACS comes in.

Dan Allen:

So whether you're a Tradie, a Truckie, or blue collar worker, don't let it get any harder. Text or call This Is A Conversation Starter. You can see the number up there on the screen. So TIACS removes the physical and financial barriers that exist preventing Tradies, Truckies and blue collar workers from being able to access professional mental health support. And we know what it's like, when we were a Tradie, we spent up to 10, 12 hours a day on site, and there might be very little time to actually go and make an appointment with the GP, get onto a mental health plan, and then go and make an appointment with a psychologist and actually get some of that help you need.

Dan Allen:

We're removing those barriers, we want to make it as easy as possible. You can text, you can call. You can call as many times as you want. We also practice outbound, so we will, the TIACS Foundation will also check back in with anyone who reaches out. You can use it on the dunny, you can use it at smoko, you can use it in bed at night. It's very easy guys, and we'd encourage anyone to reach out and practice that help seeking behaviour.

Dan Allen:

This is a bit of an old picture to be honest, when we say we've built this whole organization from the ground up. This is our warehouse out of Morningside. Podcast room down the bottom, and we've just added a level at the top there, on top of that second story there, which is housing our psychologists. So we've got a big task ahead of us and through shirt sales, Trademutt currently funds two full-time psychologists to be able to provide free support for anyone who needs it. So we're currently unfunded by the government, but we could use all the support that we can get.

Ed Ross:

What's this one? This is a new one.

Dan Allen:

Skip through it.

Ed Ross:

Right guys, just to finalize obviously, it's R U Okay Day today, and obviously there's a massive groundswell around mental health on a day like today. We need to remember it's important to look after your mental health every day. So if you or anyone you know wants to access private sector mental health professional, please reach out to the TIACS Foundation and get the help you deserve. And you can also see more at tiacs.org.

Dan Allen:

One key take away guys is, as Ed said, on R U Okay? Day, a lot of statistics around mental health and a lot of them can look very scary. There's one statistic that really does matter, and it's that 100% of us actually do have mental health, just as we have nutritional and physical health. Nothing to be afraid of, and it's something that we all need to embrace and talk about more. So to reach out, our website details are there. And thank you very much for the time today guys.

Ed Ross:

Cheers.

Chris Bombolas:

Thanks very much guys. On a serious note, if you, or a friend, or a colleague, or a work mate is struggling, then here are some key contacts that will come in handy for professional help. We heard from Matt Rogers a couple of days ago just how important professional help is when problems are identified. We are not all problem solvers and we are not professionals, and there's a few organizations that do a fantastic job, particularly in the mental health space.

Chris Bombolas:

If you've got a question of Dan and Ed, or of Cookie, or of Mark from earlier, we're about to open the panel session and all you have to do is submit your question. I've got one for you two guys to consider, while you're catching your breath and we're getting ready for our panel session. Having seen the gear that you've got, the workwear and how colourful it is, and it's out there, and a conversation starter. I want to know, particularly with my boss sitting in the audience over there, whether you'd consider branching off maybe into casual wear, weekend casual sporting wear. It's very popular with the young kids these days. And for me personally, I'd like to have some gear like that to wear into the corporate office. What do you reckon?

Dan Allen:

Are you saying you want to look like that?

Chris Bombolas:

Oh, I don't know if I could get away with thongs? I don't know if we can pan that camera down, but part of their work gear, and let's have a look, down there, it's shorts. They look like New South Wales shorts. I'm a bit worried about that, but there's a new corporate look.

Ed Ross:

Yeah mate, you can't take yourself too seriously. We've got a range of products coming out. We've actually got Australian-made and Australia cotton T-shirts coming out in the next couple of weeks that's really exciting. So it's cotton from St. George, and been made in Brissy. So it's really good.

Chris Bombolas:

Particularly at this time, it's really important to support local industry, isn't it?

Ed Ross:

Absolutely.

Chris Bombolas:

And all our producers and local manufacturers.

Ed Ross:

Exactly.

Dan Allen:

Do what we can where we can.

Ed Ross:

And we've got some hoodies and stuff as well, so plenty of stuff coming.

Chris Bombolas:

And thank you for our vouchers. And don't forget all the people who ask a question today go into the draw. We've got five vouchers, a 100 bucks each. And get some good gear for that, can't they?

Ed Ross:

Get in there. Get in there.

Chris Bombolas:

Time now for the panel session. I better bring this back into order. Some sort of order. It's hard with those two, I've got to tell you. The two to my right are much more...

Mark:

Professional.

Chris Bombolas:

Sedate and professional. And then I go over here to the two amateurs. So anyway, lets get into the panel session. Thanks for your questions. Keep asking them. We'll try to get through as many as we can. Mark, you're first up. I see you're nice and relaxed. This comes from Kylie. How do you gauge if someone has what it takes to be a good trades person? And are there certain qualities you look for in an apprentice?

Mark:

I think that's an easy one to be honest. It's all about attitude. To be honest, mate, I've worked with some apprentices or trade assistants that weren't the best, they weren't the most skilled. They weren't the smartest, they weren't the fastest, but who had a great attitude. And I mean, attitude will get you a lot further sometimes than brain smart. So one thing I've always looked is for, if they've got to have a great attitude towards learning and wanting to know stuff, and being keen, then, yeah. So I'll always look for the right attitude more than strength, or fastness or that. Attitude's number one.

Chris Bombolas:

So the attitude can then help with their ability, and they can learn if they [crosstalk 00:48:46].

Mark:

Yeah, if you've got a great attitude, you can be moulded in a great tradesman with the correct training. Yeah, definitely.

Chris Bombolas:

Thank you. That was for you, Kylie. Now to the Trademutt boys, this comes from Nev, Nev Atkinson. Would you consider making arc-related clothes?

Ed Ross:

All our work shirts currently are 100% cotton. So they should be all good to go. I don't think we've got the arc-

Dan Allen:

We don't have the accreditation.

Ed Ross:

... accreditation but yeah, they are a 100% cotton.

Chris Bombolas:

Cool. Right. We're already there? Excellent.

Dan Allen:

If the demand is there, then definitely, as we expand. We're just a growing business, so we're just trying to keep up with demand currently as it is, but most definitely in the future it'd be great to produce both FR and arc-related clothing and get all the Sparkies on board.

Chris Bombolas:

Well, after today's broad reaching podcast and our webinar today, that little place in Morningside might need a bit of work.

Dan Allen:

It needs a bit of work anyway.

Chris Bombolas:

Let's move onto our next question. This comes from Elsa, and it's to you, Mark, again. What's your advice to apprentices who feel like they've been asked to do something that is not right, but they don't have the confidence to speak. They're not sure. They really have a gut feel that they shouldn't be doing it, but they're being coerced to do it.

Mark:

I can understand that may be hard if you're maybe 18 years old and your boss is some old tough Tradie. My advice would be speak to them, but if you can't do that, you're a bit worried, speak to some of your other colleagues. Speak to the other people you work with. And if that doesn't work, speak to me and I'll speak to your boss. That's not a problem. But no, I understand they might be a bit worried, "Oh, the boss pays my wages," but-

Chris Bombolas:

Nothing like a ferocious Scotsman confronting a boss.

Mark:

... Yeah, just give me a shout man, and I'll go see your boss man. But don't be scared to speak up, because nobody should be asking you to do something you don't feel comfortable doing. But speak to your other colleagues, or speak to someone else that can help you out, or speak to me. But don't be afraid to speak out, and don't be afraid to ask the wrong questions or that, but just try and get that confidence to speak the truth.

Chris Bombolas:

Excellent, now what we can get you to do is then wear the Trademutt gear, go out to the work site, and encourage that person to do the right thing.

Mark:

Yeah.

Chris Bombolas:

Excellent. Right, we've got it all wrapped up in one. Let's move to question from Jake and this one is aimed at you, Cookie. So your turn my friend. What's your advice for those wanting to stay in the electrical industry for a lifelong career, and what kind of training and development opportunities would you recommend for someone who's starting out and wants to make it a life long career? You've had 30 years plus.

Cookie:

I suppose the first thing is to find something you're really passionate about. I obviously really enjoyed being an electrician, but like Mark said, you got to have a good attitude, and you got to want to learn. You really can't wait for someone to give you those opportunities. You need to go, find that thing you're passionate about, do some training in it. I was lucky enough to get into some management type roles and had very good mentors. So you got to find someone that's got the knowledge that's willing to give it to you, right? And then I did a bit of a management type diploma, but I also got into training as well. So training helps me do these presentations that I've got to do a lot. So just depends on where you think your career path is going, but you got to find something you're really passionate about.

Chris Bombolas:

Just a follow-up question on that. I'll put my old journo hat on. A young Sparkie, you got the apprentice, and they've got to go tech, got to go to TAFE, do their paperwork and all that sort of stuff. And they quite often don't really want to go there, or they think, "Oh, it's a bit of time off work." How important is that in their career overall? And either of you could answer that one. Some of them have the attitude of, "Oh, a couple of hours off. I'll just attend here and I'll tick off the boxes and do my little paperwork."

Mark:

Oh, I think the theory side of going to tech's massive. If you want a full career in being a Sparkie, there's so many different industries within the electrical industry, and having the knowledge or the theory behind how electrics work's massive. Because you've got a lot of guys that [inaudible 00:53:14] the best on the tools with their hands, but they're really book smart, and you've got the opposite. So if you can work together and lean off each other, you'll be a good Sparkie.

Chris Bombolas:

Cookie?

Cookie:

Never be afraid to ask a question. No one knows everything. You have to ask. Someone might assume that you know something when you get to the first day of your... into your apprenticeship, first day of your trade and all of a sudden you're expected to know everything? Well, you don't. You need to ask questions and gain knowledge. Like I said, find a good mentor.

Chris Bombolas:

And you blokes have been in the industry a long time. Do you constantly update your skills? So do you read through trade magazines or update, go on courses, do whatever needs to be done?

Mark:

We do CPD points, definitely. Yeah, we have to in certain sub industries in it. But I prefer learning off old people to be honest. I've got a lot of older engineers that work with us and I'm always asking them like, "Well, you told me how that works, but explain to me exactly how it works." Do you know what I mean? So I would always ask the older guys. And what I've always said to the younger apprentices is like, "See when you got your driving license and you're driving cars. That's you just learning to drive. You know how to drive, but you've not been on the road with a thousand other cars there." It's the same as being a Sparkie. As soon as you get that little green card, then you're just starting your career as a Sparkie, so you're always learning.

Chris Bombolas:

All right, let's move onto our next question. It comes from Alicia Kitty, it's for the boys from Trademutt. When will your hoodies be back in stock? Is this not one of your...?

Ed Ross:

They arrived on Monday. I don't know why they aren't on the website yet. I'll be having a stern word with our eCommerce manager when I get back in the office. No, I'm joking.

Dan Allen:

We're supposed to be talking about mental health, not hoodies, Alicia.

Ed Ross:

Yeah, no, there should be some on the website, hopefully today or tomorrow.

Chris Bombolas:

Oh, clearly an in-house one this one, was it?

Ed Ross:

I don't know who's done that.

Dan Allen:

Someone's going to get a grilling when we get back to the warehouse.

Chris Bombolas:

They better start sweeping and tidying up the Morningside head office, all right? Let's go to Dan and Ed, we'll stay down this end. Comes from Kev. What's been your biggest achievement since starting Trademutt?

Dan Allen:

That's a really hard question to answer, Kev. But thank you. Since we've started this journey, we've gone from being two Chippies, with a combined 15 years experience on the tools, and we learned a lot of manual labour skills, and how to work as part of a team and all that sort of stuff. Never did we think we would be able to take those skills and transfer them and to become a couple social entrepreneurs who're also founders of a mental health charity.

Dan Allen:

So the whole journey to this point has been absolutely incredible. Every day we shake ourselves and think, "How are we in this position?" But we know that this is exactly where we're supposed to be. Getting a high viz shirt here was a massive thing for us. To be able to build a team, now we've got a team of about 14 across both Trademutt and the TIACS Foundation. Establishing our podcast. But even as simple as having some of the conversations that we have with people on a daily basis, and how much Trademutt has positively impacted our lives. It's absolutely priceless and we're super grateful to be in this position, and we know that we're only just at the start of a long journey ahead. So it's a really rewarding one.

Chris Bombolas:

To the guys in the colourful gear, this one's from Amusta Faziyah. Does Trademutt have a plan to approach local government councils?

Dan Allen:

So as I said in our presentation, Trademutt's actually currently unfunded by government. We've got a few shirts in the Brisbane City Council at the moment. But basically, all we can do is keep driving this ship forward, make as much noise as we can and wait for the councils to come to us at this stage, because you can spend a lot of time banging down doors, trying to get into government departments, but at the end of the day we just got to keep driving this bad boy and hopefully they come and find us.

Chris Bombolas:

You get that corporate gear that I'm talking about, and they'll be knocking your doors down.

Dan Allen:

Well, we'll be ready.

Chris Bombolas:

To Mark, let's get back over to the other side. Comes from Julie. How has this accident shaped the way you feel, or you deal with client pressure?

Mark:

It's more, you just need to be confident. So I've managing it from the point of sale now. So, addressing with the larger clients that power needs to go off at some point and maybe multiple times, not just for final connections of equipment, but we may need to be turning power off for assessments. So that was one thing that you see with the video that we had a bit of client pressure not to turn the power off. So address basically at the point of sale with the BDMs right away. Obviously, if this is going to go ahead then power's going to need to go off. It may need to go off at multiple times as well as for data logging. So we've addressed that right at the start and it's black and white now. There's no-

Chris Bombolas:

So, no compromise for you. If that client is not prepared to turn the power off, you're not prepared to do the work.

Mark:

... If that client doesn't want to turn the power off, I don't want him as a client, basically.

Chris Bombolas:

And you express that each and every job.

Mark:

Yes, more so now than ever. Before it was trying to be about accommodating. Like we all are, as humans, we want to accommodate everybody, we want to try and keep everyone happy. But sometimes we just need to take that stance and say, "Look, mate. The power's going off, man. If you want to get a backup generator in, if you want to get UPS or that in, yeah, we can organize that. But it needs to get it done safely."

Chris Bombolas:

Have you had any blow back about that stance.

Mark:

No, you can't. Once you're firm with it, and you explain to them it's safety, and you don't... It's like you let them know that it's not flexible, it's like, "This is the way it needs to be and if you want somebody else to do it without doing that, then on you go, mate." So you just need to be firm with them and stand by it.

Chris Bombolas:

All right, back to the Trademutt boys from Nate Kirmer. How is the five percent of profit spent by the charity to help tackle mental health?

Ed Ross:

So actually, last financial year, we donated 25% of our profits, which was awesome. And basically, it's all spent on getting psychologists on the phone. So the TIACS Foundation doesn't do any marketing or any paid advertising like that. It's all literally just for our psychologists and for our CEO to be able to run it. So that's how it's spent, having psychologists on the phone currently from 9:00 to 5:00, Monday to Friday.

Dan Allen:

We're currently funding two full-time psychologists just through shirt sales, and that's free to access for anyone who needs it.

Chris Bombolas:

So they just dial a number and...

Dan Allen:

Dial up, yeah. Text, call. You can have a short consult. You can have a longer one. You can come back and back as many times as you need.

Chris Bombolas:

All discreet like all those other-

Dan Allen:

Yeah, everything, yeah, but it's just basically removing all those steps, all those barriers that it might take otherwise for someone to actually get to a psychologist, which for Tradies who work the hours that we do, can be really tough to do. So we want to make it as easy as possible.

Chris Bombolas:

... Because if they've got enough courage to make that call, sometimes we're just a bit hesitant about actually coming up with details and all that sort of stuff. So you've made that initial approach, so here's a great avenue to continue the conversation.

Dan Allen:

Exactly. We know how many blokes actually struggle with help seeking behaviour, and so it's really important for us to desensitize that and make it as easy and chilled out as possible to really make that first interaction with a mental health professional a really positive one. So that's our focus.

Chris Bombolas:

So basically, another question from Donna, and we say thanks to Donna for her question. What's your advice to Tradies that can see a mate struggling and how should they reach out? This is a very common question. We've done these for the construction industry, for many other industries where we've got beefy, burly guys who don't show emotion, and all of a sudden you notice that someone's struggling. How should they reach out? How do we start? How do we progress it?

Dan Allen:

I think it's a really fine line. It's actually quite a balancing act to not be too forceful when it comes to this mental health stuff. If you can see someone who's struggling, you want to help lead that horse to water, as we say, but you can't actually force that person to reach out and seek the help that they need. So in those instances, all we can do is put as many resources around that person as we can, inform the right people. If you're worried about that person, maybe have a yarn with the boss. Let them know that the TIACS text line is by Tradies for Tradies. So it's very non confrontational, quite easy to use.

Dan Allen:

But otherwise, making yourself aware of the services that are out there. And one of the biggest things is, if you do see someone that's struggling, you want to be able to show vulnerability yourself. One of the best ways to allow someone else to open up and actually address the fact that they might be doing it tough, is to talk about some of your own struggles. There's nothing like just coming in hard out of the gate and saying, "Mate, what's wrong?" It's never going to work. You got to chill it out. Maybe take it to the pub, have a beer and just shoot the breeze like mates. Build that connection, build that relationship, and that's how we really cut through.

Chris Bombolas:

Over to you, Mark, for our next question. It comes from Harrison. After your accident, was it difficult to return to the workplace? Especially working on switchboards, considering how horrific your own personal story was.

Mark:

I think we're getting a lot of questions this morning. It must be those Trademutt vouchers that they'll get. I think there was a little bit of hesitance going back. Initially, reopening switchboards and being around electricity. But it's just something that I've mentally dealt with. There was a little bit of hesitancy. It's a common question a lot of mates, as well as colleagues have asked me. To be honest, as long as you're switching the power off, you've nothing to be scared of, do you know what I mean? But it's more just when you still need to prove that the power's off. There is that slight, when you need to prove if it's dead, it may not be dead. I think I struggled a little bit initially, but since nothing is holding me back. So it was a little bit of a struggle, I'm not going to lie, but it is since something that's just, so I just walked through it.

Chris Bombolas:

All right. We thank Terry for his question, and this one's aimed at Cookie and yourself, Mark. And it's your top tips for supervisors managing apprentices today is all about apprentices and their supervisors, and we thank them for joining us today. Some top tips. Something that they really should adhere to.

Cookie:

Well, I think empathy. You got to empathize with that apprentice. We've been apprentices as well, so put yourself back in those shoes and go, "What would I want my supervisor to do for me?" Give him a bit of time to learn. Give him that little bit of extra time. If it's a rush job, it's probably not the job for the apprentice. But just empathy, and don't forget to ask questions. Nobody knows everything, I mentioned it before.

Mark:

I second everything Cookie's just said there. It's time, spending time with the apprentice and understanding where they are in their life. When they're an 18-year-old kid, they're going to go out and get on the drink. Do you know what I mean? They're going to turn up late. Do you know what I mean? It's like don't... Oh, I nearly swore there. But you don't really want to come down hard on them, because they're young boys, they're going to mess up. Do you know what I mean? They're going to maybe crash the work van, they're going to make mistakes.

Mark:

But just put yourself in their shoes and be firm with them when you have to be. If they keep messing something up like, "Well, why are you not understanding us?" Like, "What is it that you're not getting." Spending the extra time with them and just don't give up on them because they broke your new Milwaukee drill or something. That's just part of having an apprentice, do you know what I mean? It's part of learning for them. So just spend that time and empathize with them and just respect them as well, being young boys.

Chris Bombolas:

Respect them. Be understanding. Probably a bit of flexibility. And I reckon you two will agree with this, communication is important. Always communicate with them. I don't know how many times I've heard apprentices say, "Oh you know, my boss just goes off, does something else. I don't see him the whole day." How about a bit of a conversation during the day? See if they're all right, see if they're coping, and regular.

Mark:

Yes, definitely.

Cookie:

Yeah, supervision. I mean you got to be there to advise them, to lead them.

Chris Bombolas:

All right. We have to wrap up our panel session, but look, I wanted to pose a question to all of you, just to have a think about this particular issue. We are here specifically for supervisors and apprentices. What's one piece of advice, and we'll go around the circle, that you would give to apprentices starting out in the electrical industry? You guys more from a working point of view, and a general work site. You guys specifically from maybe an electrical industry point of view. So Mark, you first.

Mark:

I'll give one initial bit of advice, don't buy cheap tools, okay?

Chris Bombolas:

Or work gear.

Mark:

Yeah, the boss should be buying you that. That should all come free. But not thongs, but okay, sorry. I don't think we'll get past WHS guys. But, no, seriously just ask questions, learn. Do you know what I mean? To be a good Sparkie you don't need to be good at everything, but if you've got a good knowledge base you can turn your hand to a lot of things. Just enjoy it though. Do you know what I mean? You're going to do this for 10 hours a day or longer at times. So just have fun and enjoy it and don't put up with any shit, do you know what I mean?

Chris Bombolas:

Despite what happened to you, are you still enjoying your trade? And B, do you have regrets?

Mark:

I'm a Sparkie man, through and through. I've been off the tools for a few years, but I still have my most satisfying days when I put the boots and that on and go and spend a day on site with the boys. You'll never beat that Tradie banter. I don't know what it's like, but I do know what it's like in offices, and I'll tell you one thing, the banter on site is a lot better. And another bit of advice would be is, you need to be able to take it if you're given it on site, man. Don't be shy if you're getting a little bit of banter, if you're getting the piss taken out of you, because it's all part of being an apprentice man, and you'll be able to do it to someone else after.

Chris Bombolas:

We don't officially no. We're not going, no, no, no.

Mark:

But enjoy it. You've got to enjoy it, don't you?

Chris Bombolas:

Cookie.

Cookie:

I was starting, thinking through my head, and he mentioned everything I was going to say. But I think the big thing is asking those questions, because when I was an apprentice, I thought that I was expected to know stuff. And you learn it through your trade, but I should've asked more questions. Find out from someone that knows. Find yourself a really good mentor, and that doesn't necessarily need to be your boss. If you know someone else is a good electrician or anything like that. I was lucky to have very good mentors.

Chris Bombolas:

When you're saying questions, it should be from either end. It should be from the apprentice to the supervisor, and even the supervisor back to the apprentice.

Mark:

What I've done in the past is that I initiate a question, but instead of telling them the answer, I was like, "Work it out." Like, "Do you understand why we're doing this? Do you understand what insulation resistant is? Do you understand why we want a high megohm reading? Do you understand the physics behind it? Not just, "Oh, great, 500 megohm." But do you know what that is measuring?" If they just say, "Yeah, yeah, I get it." Explain it to them.

Cookie:

I think one more thing too is, the electrical industry is so vast, right? You can go in so many different angles. Find out the one that you like the most, and push your career in that angle.

Chris Bombolas:

Great advice. You guys from a Tradie point of view, rather than specifically just the electrical industry. Some advice for those starting out, other than get your boss to buy Trademutt gear, right?

Ed Ross:

I suppose obviously asking heaps of questions was one thing I did as an apprentice. But I think the most important thing, if it's not for you, don't grit your teeth and push yourself through it, if it's not what you want to do. I mean, Dan and I are two Chippies by trade and now we don't do anything on the tools. I mean, we're on a laptop, on a phone, and Dan's on Instagram for about six hours of every day now. So don't think you've got to commit yourself to something that you don't enjoy. I mean, if it's for you, that's fantastic. If it's not, there's so many more opportunities out there. So don't put yourself through something you're not enjoying.

Dan Allen:

And I'd probably jump in and say, for a long time trades have been looked upon as a second rate career, I suppose. But I can guarantee you that there's literally no better career pathway for anyone to learn all the skills required to be successful in any industry that they try their hand at. Becoming a Tradie allows you to learn working as part of a team, you learn practical skills. You get to see a job from start to finish, and you get to partake in all the processes that are involved to make that happen and bring that to life. So these skills are absolutely invaluable and can set you up to either excel in your trade and take it as far as you want to go, or it can give you the grounding to try your hand at absolutely anything that you want to do from that point.

Dan Allen:

The skills that you learn as a Tradie are so valuable, and that work ethic is something that a lot of other people miss out on, particularly at a young age. So if you're a young apprentice, understand that you've got an opportunity to really hone in on some practical life skills that can be applied anywhere. And who knows, you might even try your hand at starting a charity, or becoming a social entrepreneur, or absolutely anything else related to the trade industry. So it's a very exiting opportunity. Make the most of it.

Chris Bombolas:

Olivia has snuck one final question in for all of you, so we'll be brief with this one, but it's a good one. I like it. Are you guys seeing more and more women starting out in the electrical and construction trades? Like in the trades industry, broadly speaking.

Dan Allen:

In our little world there's fantastic representation of females in the trade workforce. So it's awesome to see a lot of the strong, confident and very highly qualified women who are excelling in the trade. So there are no limiting factors to being able to become a Tradie now, and it's awesome to see how many women are taking up a trade and really excelling and having really good support networks around them to empower them to keep going. Because it can be tough, as Mark mentioned. We come from work sites so there's a lot of banter. It's been a culture that we've set for a long time. But it's shifting. We're becoming more open about our mental health. We're becoming far more accepting of having women around us who are just as good as everyone else. And so that's fantastic to see.

Chris Bombolas:

And they are a little less brutal on the work van. They don't drive them as hard as the blokes. Seriously.

Dan Allen:

That's true. Actually, we get a lot of feedback from the females on site are actually the ones who a lot of guys go up to, to talk to. So when we're talking about this mental health stuff, we get lots of feedback, particularly from the women on site. They say that a lot of guys feel like they're more approachable to talk about some of the stuff that they're struggling with. So that's a huge added bonus for a lot of sites out there.

Chris Bombolas:

For you guys in the electrical industry, just to bring us home, Mark and Cookie.

Mark:

I've actually worked with female electricians nearly with every company I've worked with. Not especially within the company, but on the same building sites. Not a lot of them, but there's been one dotted here and there. And they've been capable of doing the work. Especially being a Sparkie, it's not as hardcore as a Brickie and all that, muscle wise and strength wise. I've came across a few of them, man. They've been decent tradespeople, would it be? It can't be tradesmen, is it? Trades person? I just want to get my PC right.

Ed Ross:

Tradies.

Mark:

Yeah, Tradie, yeah. But yeah, you see them.

Cookie:

Obviously, short and sweet, but, yes. Basically, I do a lot of trades from road transport, construction and obviously, agriculture and I'm seeing an increase in female representation. Particularly in safety as well.

Chris Bombolas:

All right, we might wrap it up there. Thanks everybody for joining us for our very special presentation today. Winners of today's Trademutt vouchers will be announced on Wednesday the 16th of September via the Electrical Safety Office Facebook page. As we've said all morning, there's five $100 Trade vouchers up for grabs on that Facebook page for all of those who have taken part. After this week we'll post a question for electrical workers. Answer the question correctly, and you'll be in that draw for those vouchers. I would encourage all of you who joined us today to head to the electricalsafety.qld.gov.au to watch the webinar again, along with a wide range of other electrical safety information and resources. Share it with your friends, with your work colleagues, with those in the industry. We'd really appreciate that.

Chris Bombolas:

We will be emailing all of you a feedback survey very, very shortly. We really value your feedback. It helps us shape events like this, particularly now that a lot of our events have gone digital and they're in a whole new world. We would appreciate your feedback, whether you like something, you want more of, less of, whatever it might be, and we use those to formulate events in the future.

Chris Bombolas:

Can I say, on behalf of the Office of Industrial Relations and the Electrical Safety Office, thanks to our guests today. To Dan and Ed from Trademutt, thanks for the vouchers. Thanks for your support. Keep up the great work, and I hope to see this huge factory soon, or business outlet in Morningside with a café out the front that we can come and have a café and perhaps open difficult discussions that we've struggled with in the past.

Ed Ross:

A 100%.

Dan Allen:

Seems like a great idea.

Chris Bombolas:

Seems like a great idea. Well, get to work on that. And to Glen Cook, and Mark. Thank you for joining us. Some great insight into what is a wonderful industry.

Cookie:

Thank you.

Chris Bombolas:

And to you, for joining us. I hope you enjoyed our ESO presentations. Not just today, but from the last couple of days. We've certainly had great pleasure in presenting them to you and we hope that you've taken a lot in, and taken a lot back to your workplace. But for today, which is R U Okay? Day, and World Suicide Day, be brave enough to ask a mate, a friend, a family member, a colleague, anyone, "What's happening in your world?" It could save someone's life. Till next time we meet, stay safe.

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