09:16 pm, Thursday 27 October, 2011
There was a lot to hear, see and do at the Sydney Safety Conference & Show today – as there has been each day. Some of the topics covered today included the emerging area of managing mental health issues in the workplace; managing the long-term injured employee; and several small sessions looking at safety technologies and innovations.
The first keynote speaker of the conference, John Watson, GM WHS Division, WorkCover NSW, asked the audience to consider the usual weekend BBQ. He asked, if one of our friends, or a child of a friend, had been killed that week at work – how might that change the situation? He implored us to keep that in mind when managing safety.
It is too easy to get caught up in figures, systems and programs to manage safety, and to manage behaviours of workers. The final keynote speakers brought the message home loud and clear.
TODD RUSSELL – BEACONSFIELD MINE DISASTER SURVIVOR
I have been privileged to hear some great speakers during my lifetime. However, Todd Russell’s talk today was truly heart warming and inspirational. He was just an ordinary man going about his job on ANZAC Day, 2006, when his life was changed forever by a workplace accident that would unfold before the eyes of the world over the next 14 days. Todd is one of the survivor’s of the Beaconsfield Mine Disaster inTasmania.
Todd gave a detailed account of what happened from when he clocked on for his shift that night until he and Brant Webb were rescued fourteen days later. I won’t go into the details, as most of us have read at least one account of this disaster.
What struck me the most about this talk is that Todd is an ordinary, humble, husband and father. He didn’t seek celebrity, but it came to him through a workplace accident.
The audience was spellbound – laughing during the funnier moments and welling up during the more touching ones. Todd Russell and Brant Webb’s lives were changed forever by this incident. Larry Knight lost his life, leaving behind his wife and two young children.
Following two days of presentations around legislation, systems for safety, statistics and research findings – the real message was brought home:
- workers deserve to be safe in their workplace;
- families should expect their loved ones to come home at the end of their shift; and
- employers have no right to put profits before lives.
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