Workplace Health and Safety
My name is Peter Smith and I will be working across the whole community as a Safety Inspector. My focus will be workplace health and safety covering government, private sector and volunteer enterprises. You will see me out and about, feel free to contact me and have a chat about safety matters. I am happy to assist in any way I can.
My last role was as a safety advisor with the Sunshine Coast Council, and prior to that I have over 30 years’ experience in the field of safety. A great deal of that was in ‘remote’ ’locations, so I really understand the issue of working safely when you don’t have the resources you would have in, say, a major city for example. If you need a safety sign or equipment in most places you can pick them up at Bunnings or dozens of other safety shops. So far I haven’t found a Bunnings on Norfolk Island. But there also wasn’t one on Groote Eylandt, Goulburn Island, Flinders Island, or 180 km NW of Port Headland on an offshore construction barge. No matter how remote an area was we can always sit down, discuss the work being done, and work out a way of doing it safely.
My work experience covers construction (civil and highrise), maritime, health, government sector, education and mining. Along the way some jobs have been challenging;
Senior Worksafe Inspector, Northern Territory- covering an area half the size of Europe with just 7 inspectors. Safety Manager-Queensland Health, 5000 staff and over 200 separate workplaces. Secondment to the Philippines- working with their Department of Labour to implement basic safety information in remote provinces.
This is a Eurocopter 225 – used for transfers from Karratha to the Lewek Crusader during construction of Woodside Petroleum’s North Rankin B gas platform. I was the safety officer for the construction barge and had responsibility for helicopter operations as well. Everybody who flys is trained in escaping from a crashed and sinking helicopter. When it lands I have two men in high temperature suits aiming foam cannons at the landing pad – if there was a crash you only have seconds to suppress a fire.
Groote Eylandt, BHP GEMCO’s manganese mine. We were installing miles of HDPE pipe-that’s like the polypipe you use for gardening except it’s over a metre in diameter and thick. You cut it with a chainsaw. The hardest part of the job was looking after a dozen or so young Irish 457 workers. I had to alcohol test them before every shift and they kept on working out ways to wreck my alcohol tester.
In the picture below you see the entire safety inspectorate for the Northern Territory (I am at the back, right. The gentleman on the front left was the Territory Minister responsible for WHS. We also did dangerous goods, occupational hygiene, asbestos, and hazardous chemicals. The person taking the photo was responsible for workers compensation for the whole of the Territory and also fixing the 5 computers we had. Hardest part of the work was dealing with fatalities and workers who had suffered spinal injuries or amputations.
It’s for that reason that workplace safety has to be taken seriously by all of us. An accident at work can change your life forever.