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National Safe Work Month: Interview with Ben Bennett

October 14 2020

Ben BennettTo acknowledge National Safe Work Month for 2020, we sat down with Ben Bennett, Branch Manager of RISsafety’s Far North Queensland Branch, to learn what safety means to him during this important month.

1. What does Safety mean to you?

It means everyone goes home safely to their families and friends after the day’s work. It means taking the time to identify potential hazards that are not only in our work environment but our social environment as well; and then taking the appropriate steps and measures to protect yourself, your fellow workers, family and friends by implementing the correct controls using the hierarchy of controls. Everyone should develop the habit of thinking about safety during their workday, on the way to and from work, as well as at home or on holidays.

2. What got you involved in the Safety industry?

At a young age in my working career I was involved in an industrial accident, and I also witnessed several other industrial and vehicle accidents over several more years which resulted in some horrific injuries. As a result of witnessing not only firsthand but other incidents I became very passionate about how safety was implemented in the workplace. When the opportunity arose to be part of a company whom design, manufacture and install products and services that not only save people’s lives but potentially change how the height safety industry operated – it was a no brainer to join the team.

3. Explain a memorable safety project that you have been involved in?

I was engaged to carry out a height safety audit for a mining company in an isolated location. Shortly after starting, it became apparent there was a large gap between senior management and the workforce in relation to working at heights. This gap was a result of many of the senior people not fully understanding their own working at heights procedures and processes which resulted in the workforce not wanting to carry out specific tasks and so they would cut corners. This then would result in an increased incident rate including injuries, disciplinary actions and or dismissals. Instead of the workers and management working together to understand their own working at heights processes and procedures, people would impart their own personal opinions which was outside the company’s policies. By the time I had finished the audit I was able to change the attitude of both senior management and workers alike, which was very rewarding and quite a simple process to do once I understood the core issue.

4. What is your biggest concern when it comes to Safety?

That one of my family, friends, contractors or employees may be injured or killed as a result of an accident in the workplace or home. Even with all the education, training and processes in place for working safely at heights; people still aren’t getting the message and incidents of falls from heights are still occurring at an alarming rate. The construction industry alone accounted for 37% of falls related fatalities and workers aged 45 years and over made up 70% of those who died following a fall from height according to Work Safe Australia. Our attitude when working at heights needs a major reset; the days of thinking “I’ve being doing this for 30 years and never had a problem before” has to go

5. What’s one of the most impactful changes that a company can make to help improve their Safety?

There are so many things companies can do to improve workplace safety; but to truly embed a sustainable safety culture, they must overcome the mind-sets that underlie unsafe behaviours. Correct and accurate information, not personal opinions is one key element to ensure both employers and employees understand their obligations when working at heights.

 6. What is your No.1 piece of advice when it comes to Height Safety?

Don’t fall (LOL). Make certain that you take the time to risk assess the task at hand; identify all the hazards and implement the correct controls. Don’t cut corners and look out for yourself, work colleagues and the environment.

7. And finally, we hear you’re into personal training – tell us a little bit about that?

I became a trainer as a result of an industrial accident when I was 20 years of age. I went through a very intensive rehabilitation program that I set for myself and people over a period of time noticed the results and started to ask if I could train them. I realised after about 10 years when fitness really started to take off, that there was something in this so I went to TAFE and 20 years later I’m still doing it. My greatest achievement is a young lady who has lost over 60kgs. To watch not only the physical but psychological change is something that is extremely rewarding to witness.

 

If you have any safety questions or requirements during National Safe Work Month, or beyond, please get in touch with us.

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