Hundreds enjoy front row safety seminar

Mayor Jack Dempsey with Shane Webcke at the Front Row Safety event.
Bundaberg Region Mayor Jack Dempsey with Shane Webcke at the Front Row Safety event.

Shane Webcke told an audience of 250 people at the Bundaberg Multiplex front row safety event that creating a safety culture among workers and workplaces is critical.

The initiative, sponsored by some of the region’s largest employers and held during National Safe Work Month, attracted keynote speaker and Queensland Safety Ambassador Shane Webcke.

Shane Webcke, renowned for his exploits in rugby league with the Brisbane Broncos, Queensland and Australia, spoke of the tragic circumstances involving the loss of his father in a workplace accident when Shane was a teenager.

The seminar brought together a collection of thought-provoking speakers including Bundaberg Region Mayor Jack Dempsey, Fiona O’Sullivan from Queensland Workplace Health and Safety and Jason Beasley, community safety specialist with Energy Queensland.

Mayor Dempsey spoke about the high importance Council placed on ensuring its employees enjoy a safe workplace.

“We know that familiarity can breed contempt and the message to our staff is that safety starts the moment you set foot out of bed,” he said.

“People doing the same jobs day in and day out can become complacent around required safety measures. Complacency can lead to tragedy.”

“Approximately 10 per cent pf Council’s 900-strong workforce have received safety representative training. Recently we had 260 workers attend a Power Line safety session with Energy Queensland to raise awareness of the dangers when operating around power infrastructure.”

Front row safety: Melinda Shield, Shane Webcke, Kylie Lane and Madeline Carter.
Melinda Shield, Shane Webcke, Kylie Lane and Madeline Carter at the front row safety event.

Mayor Dempsey said Council looked to benchmark its safety procedures against other industries operating outside of local government including heavy machinery and construction contractors.

A chilling statistic was front and centre of an address presented by the State’s Workplace Health and Safety team leader Fiona O’Sullivan.

“The agricultural sector employs around three per cent of the state’s workforce but accounts for more than 30 per cent of workplace fatalities,” she said.

“The statistics tell a story. Annually across our agriculture sector we see 15 fatalities. We have had 14 so far this year.

“The group at risk are older men using older machinery.

“In financial terms accidents and injuries cost the industry some $22 million annually although no value can be placed on the loss of a life.”

Ms O’Sullivan said the Bundaberg Region had recently had a 100 per cent increase to its team of compliance inspectors.

Front Row Safety: Bundaberg Regional Council staff with Mayor Jack Dempsey and Shane Webcke.
Karl Zimmerlie, Peter Esposito, Wayne Scotney, Mayor Jack Dempsey, Shane Webke, Thomas Balto, Tim Nguyen and Michael Wondrock at the Front Row Safety seminar.

“We now have four staff in the area,” she said.

Energy Queensland community safety specialist Jason Beasley shared some of the more distressing scenarios he had encountered as a first responder during his 25 years in the electrical trade.

He said across the state there were more than 750 contacts with electrical infrastructure every year, mainly through human error.

“That’s an average of two per day where someone is damaging power poles, digging up cables or bringing down lines.”

He urged anyone contemplating work on their property to visit the Energy Queensland website before commencing work or inviting tradespeople on to their property.

The seminar was sponsored by Bundaberg Regional Council, Greensill Farming Group, Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers, CQUniverstity, Canegrowers Isis, Workcover Queensland and Workplace Health and Safety Queensland.