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Robert Brown, TAFE Queensland

Category six – Best demonstrated leadership in work health and safety

Robert Brown is a trades construction teacher who specialises in cabinet-making at TAFE Queensland. Robert trains apprentices in a high-risk area and educates them on how to use workshop machinery. He leads the students through a four day induction that trains the apprentices on hand-held tools and static machinery, and sets a work safety ethic for future industry.

Robert is extremely committed to his work and his students, and contributes to work health and safety by:

  • ensuring that all machinery that students are working with is safe and up-to-date
  • going above and beyond to maintain communication with the apprentice's employers on their training and progress
  • tailoring training to students with learning or physical disabilities
  • implementing professional development for staff on any new machinery.

Robert Brown in his workshop.
Robert Brown in his workshop

Download a copy of this film (ZIP/MP4, 135MB)

On screen text

Robert Brown - Safe Work and Return to Work Awards 2017

My name is Robert Brown, I'm a Cabinetmaking Trainer for Tafe Queensland Gold Coast, and I work with Certificate III cabinetmaking students who are all apprentices.

My role currently is to teach students that are 15 to 30 years of age, some of them are into their 40s. It's in a practical environment of a machine shop, and a practical cabinetmaking area as well. I'm doing all the practical based activities with those students. I have a very high-risk area, it's up as high as butchery is as well; so why shouldn't have more than seven people in that space. I work on a theory of having a one on one basis whenever any student's using a high-risk machine.

We introduced an induction program so that we can take students away from their work environment, put them through as a group, give them one on one training and then be able to report back to the employer and tell them that they've been safely inducted into those machines. That helps the employer be more comfortable with them using those machines in their own work environment.

We decided with our induction program we not only had to cover all the theoretical side, but we had to do the practical based as well. We put together a document that actually shows the right way to use the machinery as well as the wrong way to use the machinery. We couldn't find anything that had a wrong way to use it, so we thought if we put that into a photographic booklet that students take away with them, they've then got a good background of this is correct, this is incorrect.

We've always had a really good safety culture here, however, I think there was some spaces that we could improve on. By putting certain processes paper-based as well as practical demonstration in place we make sure everyone walks out with the perfect training.

I'm very lucky that I work in an environment where the management is very happy to support us. Mainly because they obviously don't want to see any accidents, and they want to see the quality of our training is 100% spot-on. Keep out there in industry and people know that. I think I believe really strongly in workplace health and safety particularly, in my cabinetmaking environment because it takes a lot to train a person really well to work safely. Then once they've got that, they should work safely throughout the rest of their life. If they don't get it from the beginning there's a very high risk of them hurting themselves, and either having to leave the industry or take extended time off to get into it.

The best thing that I like about my role is that I work with 15 to 40-year-olds. They come from all different walks of life. We're all here for a common goal, to become a highly skilled cabinetmaker, and I like to be able to instil my knowledge and how I can do that, and how I still have 10 fingers myself.RUN TIME: 2min 40sec