Fancy title, what’s it mean?
I help to drive health and safety as a value for an organisation. Changing culture around how people perceive safety is the main thing. Creating systems, procedures and ensuring compliance is a requirement, however, influence on behaviour and culture is where you really create the sustained changes. You may not believe it, health and safety can be fun!
Oh, I believe it! Are there lots of rules pinned up around your house?
No. The culture in my house it that everyone knows we do things safely around here! I have to admit, my husband is still a work in progress! In the workplace setting, I’m all about how we can do the job we need to do, but to do it in the safest way possible.
Ever ridden a bike without a helmet?
Absolutely – when I was a kid!
It’s a $319 fine now. For safety reasons.
Good reasons. Actually, I don’t ride a bike now, but I play tennis twice a week.
What did you do before becoming Safety Tsar at PMP?
I’ve worked in a variety of health, safety and environmental roles for the last 25 years. I started off my career as a registered nurse and quickly realised that shift work wasn’t for me so I took the opportunity to hone my skills and move to private enterprise.
I see a pattern emerging. From fixing people to making sure they don’t need fixing. Go on, Mother Teresa.
I decided to study Occupational Health, then Risk Management, Ergonomics, Human Resource Management and Industrial Relations. I’ve worked in lots of different industries like Manufacturing, Transport, Warehousing, Pharmaceuticals, FMCG, Retail.
Working across all these different sectors enabled me to pick up all aspects of Health and Safety. There’s nothing I haven’t been exposed to in terms of hazard and risk.
What’s the worst injury you’ve seen?
Being exposed to the horror of workplace accidents is the worst part of my job, which is why I spend all my time working to avoid them. During the chaos of these events, we see the very best in our teams as they pull together to respond to these awful situations.
That would be in the mid-90s. We once had a guy whose hand was trapped in a plastics ‘extrusion’ machine. It was designed to chop plastic into tiny pellets. The employee removed the safety guard and his hand became caught in the extruder.
He was trapped for hours. His mate held a pinch bar for two hours trying to hold the rollers open, just in the hope he could keep some pressure off the hand. It didn’t help, but his workmate refused to leave his side.
It’s a very chaotic and traumatic scene when something like this happens. There are police, ambulance and fire brigade all involved. People everywhere.
At one stage they wanted to call a helicopter to amputate his arm, but we took the machine apart to save the arm, and probably his life. He lost the hand.
The impact was felt by all the workmates around him. The emotion around it is very intense with workmates scrambling to help, and the police, ambos and fire trucks…it’s just mayhem when these incidents happen.
Then the counselling in the aftermath happens with employees and the family.
The most satisfying thing was the support the business gave him and his family and the fact that we were actually able to get the guy back to work.
The first thing you think when this happens is ‘how will he ever work again, and how will the family react, and how will they survive financially?’ He was the only breadwinner. And you think how do all his workmates and the rest of the business cope with such an incident. I’m proud to say, we had support programs to make all that as smooth as possible.
Are there any skills you wish you had mastered or developed?
Maybe singing? My dad wanted me to be a singer
What kind of singer?
Soul, or Rhythm & Blues. I live vicariously through my children. My daughter sings like Amy Winehouse.
My whole career has been like a journey of developing strategies and seeing them implemented. My personal journey is to see people adopt safety for themselves versus me telling them.
What lesson did you learn the hard way?
Know your credit card limit.
Best piece of advice?
You can do anything you put your mind to!
What do you love most about working at PMP?
The people are authentic. A great bunch of people. Telling it like it is. Speaking your mind but with care. Having an open and honest discussion and people not being easily offended. That’s what I see in my first 6 months in the role.
If you weren’t working at PMP, what would you be doing?
In my garden. It’s relaxing, the enjoyment of seeing what you can produce. It’s probably the only way I relax. I love my veggie patch, I’ve got chooks – they have names: ‘Two-Piece Feed’ was named by my son. ‘Daisy’ was named by my daughter. ‘Third Chook’, names “Whatever” because we couldn’t think of a third name!