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Port Stephens Council wins StateCover WHS Excellence Award

Publish Date 25/03/2015

Port Stephens Council has yet again been recognised for its approach to ensuring the safety of its people, taking out the prestigious 2015 Workplace Health and Safety Award.

The win was on the back of a WHS program that has revolutionised the organisation's approach to safety and resulted in a 55% drop in workers compensation claims.

The Safety Observations Program was introduced in 2011 as an alternative to workplace inspections or audits, encouraging staff to reinforce safe behaviours by taking note of their work environment and questioning what doesn't look right.

Michelle Gilliver-Smith, Council's Organisation Development Manager said the award, run by Statecover, the predominate Local Government workers compensation insurer and presented in Sydney last night, was a testament to the foresight of those who introduced the program in 2011.

"More importantly, it is an accolade that is shared by the whole organisation because of the role we all play in being safe at work, and the awareness of our staff to look out for themselves and their workmates," she said.

Between 2011 and 2014/15, Council's workers compensation claims have dropped by 55% and the number of days lost fell from almost 400 to less than 120.

"The program was a response to an unacceptable level of workplace injuries and an increasing workers compensation premium," Ms Gilliver-Smith said.

"It was an approach that was outside the usual workplace inspections or audits in that senior staff each carry out a minimum of two safety observations per month with the aim to identify and eliminate hazardous behaviours before an incident occurs.

"The result has been a significant change in workplace culture as well as fewer lost time incidents and workers' compensation claims, lower workers compensation premiums and administrative costs, higher worker morale and Council's growing reputation as an employer of choice."

CAPTION: Port Stephens Council's Work Health and Safety Manager Nicole Le Grange and Return to Work Coordinator Lyndsay O'Donnell accept the 2015 Work Health and Safety Excellence Award.