The NSW Boating Industry Association has been recognised for its commitment to working with its members across the state to improve safety and reduce injuries.
The Association’s ongoing dissemination of guidance material, delivery of training programs and workplace engagement strategies has led it to win the Safety leadership category at the 2011 WorkCover NSW SafeWork Awards.
The Boating Industry Association was one of six winners among 47 finalists, selected from 123 entries, announced at a ceremony at Darling Harbour.
Representing an industry that has a broad spectrum of workplace activities can be challenging for a representative body to lead. Working at heights or in confined spaces, using volatile chemicals and complex plant and equipment are just some of the issues faced by the boating industry.
“Our industry covers so many different types of workplaces – manufacturing and importing, broking and retailing, marinas and boat yards, engineering, maintenance and rigging – and often these activities encompass different codes of practice and safety requirements,” said NSW Boating Industry Association Divisions Manager Alan Barrett.
“Working from scaffolding on a construction site is different from being suspended from a halyard on a yacht mast, so applying these standards to our industry is sometimes a challenge,” Mr Barrett said.
“The Boating Industry Association’s membership represents more than 90 per cent of commercial activity in the sector, which employs around 9000 people.
“Our industry is close-knit and many who work in the industry are themselves keen boating enthusiasts, with wide networks rooted in non-vocational boating.
“A key challenge for the boating community is communication. Our membership is largely made up of small businesses and individuals located in different work settings,” Mr Barrett said workplace safety was a strategic priority for the industry body.
“It has been a conscious effort to continually address safety strategically. Overall, I think the boating industry does manage its safety really well,” he said.
“We encourage our members to look at safety objectively. Our serious injury rates are stable and reasonably low, so while there is always room for improvement we are confident we are on the right track.”
The Boating Industry Association entered into a formal partnership agreement with WorkCover in August 2009 to improve safety across the industry.
“The partnership agreement with WorkCover allows us to act as a conduit between the agency and the industry,” Mr Barrett said.
“Our biggest strength is to be able to share information about risks and incidents with our members simultaneously. We meet with WorkCover regularly to discuss incidents, members’ concerns and to receive best-practice advice that we can feed right back to our industry.
The Association has also received positive feedback from members for its successful Marine Card work health and safety induction training package, which develops basic awareness about safer practices and compliance requirements, as well as creating a foundation for effective compliance management for site controllers.
“The marine card has been a very successful program that talks to everybody who works in boating – not just our members. We’ve put 1,300 people though the program and it’s really driven an awareness of health and safety among workers, particularly our young workers,” Mr Barrett said.
“Our Managing Environmental Health and Safety training course recognises the importance of supervisors and operational managers in building a safe-work culture. “We get a good level of interest in the range of training courses that we offer, and to us this indicates there is a general level of respect for the value of adequate OHS management and the value that it has in terms of the fiscal impact that results from reduced injury costs,” he said.
General Manager of WorkCover’s Work Health and Safety Division John Watson said it was encouraging to see such a high standard of entries and large number of finalists. “I congratulate all of the winners and finalists for their leadership and commitment to sharing initiatives that have improved safety performance and efficiency in their workplaces,” Mr Watson said.
“This year WorkCover received the highest number of entries since the awards began in 2004, and winners came from a wide range of industries, including engineering, transport, boating and aged care.
“Some of the winning initiatives contributed to a reduction in lost-time injuries in these businesses, saving them money while improving morale and productivity.
“People are the most important asset in a business and, with around 3.5 million workers employed in NSW, we all need to take responsibility for improving risk management and injury outcomes,” he said