Our second annual HSER Forum was held in Darwin in October, with a fantastic 61 delegates representing 23 Member Companies, contractors, and regulatory bodies in attendance – a great turn-out for the NT.

The Forum began with some ‘Listening’, via an introduction by emcee Cassy Schmidt (Program Director at National Decommissioning Research Initiative (NDRI)) followed by Phil Reid (Vice President Change Integration Australian Operations, Woodside) opening the event proper, recapping what HSERs had requested at the 2021 Forum, and what Safer Together working groups have done to respond. Phil noted that even with all we are doing to improve safety, there are an are increasing number of dangerous occurrences and injuries, highlighting the critical role HSERs play at the frontline helping people to stay safe.

Following this Tom Pettitt (Principal Consultant, Safer Together) led HSERs through an ice breaker activity – the excellent initiative, Helping Hands.

Helping Hands is an engaging practical activity with participants working in teams of 4 to build a prosthetic hand for land mine victims in the developing world; doing so with their dominant hand out of action to have a taste of life without a dominant limb, and to motivate participants to improve hand safety at their workplaces and homes.

Several participants stated, "this was the best safety activity they had ever experienced".

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Facilitated by Brett Howard (Director of Subsea Projects and Operations, TechnipFMC, next up our attendees conducted a Safety Culture Survey in a ground-breaking industry first:  A cross-section of industry multi-company front line workers (HSERs) completing the Safety Culture Survey (rather than a company, division, a work group or team).

The intent behind this was:

  1. To empower frontline HSERs, and provide them with an opportunity to speak up without workplace pressures; and to be heard as a cohort of HSERs (rather than employees of a specific company), and
  2. To find out what HSERs are seeing ‘on the ground’ and to use this as an opportunity for industry to learn, with this information to be used to help guide planning into the future.

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Morning tea provided HSERs with an opportunity to mingle with members of our WA/NT Safety Leaders Group and the regulatory community.

Next up was the Regulator Panel Session, with the panel consisting of: 

  • Peggy Cheong (Acting Executive Director, NT Worksafe)
  • Justine McGillivray (Principal Inspector Mental Health and Wellbeing, DMIRS)
  • Derrick O’Keeffe (Head of Division, Safety and Integrity, NOPSEMA)

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Each panel member shared their respective organisation’s function, and its views with respect to psychological safety and mental health - before an open panel session was held.

Justine McGillivray, in particular - as a subject matter expert in this area was particularly well received by all and will no doubt be called upon for future events.

Brett Howard re-joined the stage to present HSERs with the Survey data output in real time – as these findings were being presented at the afternoon's ISF.

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Following the panel session was Tom Coolican (Executive General Manager - West, Upstream Production Solutions) with his presentation on ‘Creating a Psychologically Safe Workplace’. Tom walked attendees through the Safer Together campaign materials developed for ‘Stand Together for Safety’ month, including the very powerful video of an evocative poem to spark conversations at the worksite. He encouraged all HSERs in attendance to download the materials and use them to facilitate a discussion at their next toolbox talk.

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Phil Reid then returned to walk HSERs through materials available in Safer Together HSER Engagement Framework, showing delegates the HSER toolkit promotional video and pointing HSERs in the right direction to access materials on the Safer Together website.

The final part of the day was a Menti poll of attendees.

We learned that 35 delegates in the room were not receiving Safer Togethers’ quarterly HSER Connect bulletin – so we signed them up!

Poll results showed a need for more work to be done in the mental health space, with HSERs asking themselves the following questions:

a) “How can my organisation help?” 

  1. By providing dedicated HSER training,
  2. By providing time to dedicate to the HSER role and
  3. By providing support to comprehensively perform the HSER role.

b) What can Safer Together do?  

The response:

  1. By continuing to conduct Forums like this one,
  2. By sharing information and communicating learnings.

Safer Together, along with Working Groups and stakeholders will use the above to inform planning into the future.

Flowing into the afternoon's Industry Safety Forum, 2 HSER delegates presented the findings of the mornings HSER Safety Culture Survey and Menti poll to the 150 delegates (see article).

A huge shout-out to Isaac Kennedy (Marine Technician and HSER, Shell) and Katie Latimore (Operations Technician & HSER, Santos).  These two intelligent and articulate HSERs had come to the mornings’ Forum as a delegate, not expecting to be presenting. Their leadership skills were identified during the Helping Hands activity, and we asked them on the spot if they would be willing to present findings from the mornings’ Survey and poll on behalf their fellow HSERs at the ISF later that day.

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To their credit, they both accepted and absolutely shone – especially considering it was a first for both Katie and Isaac speaking publicly.   

All the ISF representatives present were busy taking notes as Katie and Isaac gave a rare insight for industry leaders into what HSERs are seeing and experiencing at the front line.

ISF delegates were pleased to see that HSERs don’t have a problem when it comes to speaking up about safety. They also noted and shared the HSERs concern of the impact of maintenance deferred (during COVID) on safety.

Detailed results from the and has been shared with the SLG to guide their 2023 planning.

A successful 2022 HSER Forum, setting the bar high for 2023!

Cassy Schmidt, emcee for both the HSER Forum and ISF said, “Thanks to Safer Together for bringing people together!

The HSERs, after spending the morning working together, making connections, and discussing the new and old trends impacting their workforces, have been able to leave the room with a greater understanding of the tools available to support them, and will take away some great conversation starters when they return to site.”

Justine McGillivray  added HSERs play a vital role in an organisation's safety and health management system. It is great to see HSERs being recognised for their valuable contributions through industry run events.”

For further information regarding the HSER role, to sign up for future events or to receive the HSER Connect bulletin, contact:  [email protected].