AIMS nails top national health and safety award


9 October 2009

AIMS has taken out a prestigious national award for leading the way in occupational health and safety associated with a major marine science research project at a remote reef off the Western Australian Kimberley coast.

The National Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission (SRCC) has named AIMS as the winner of its award for the Best Workplace Health ‘ Safety Management System for the Institute's safety practices as part of the Scott Reef Research Project.

The awards recognise and reward excellence in workplace health and safety. According to the SRCC, award winners are chosen for their demonstrated high level of passion, energy and commitment to making workplaces safer. Previous winners have included the National Australia Bank, John Holland Group and Visionstream.

The research project, a major undertaking over three years to better understand the biological and physical characteristics of an environmentally and economically significant coral reef system, has a complex array of health and safety challenges to ensure that all personnel involved are at minimal risk.

Marine science is carried out in ocean environments that often involve special safety requirements and AIMS has long-standing expertise in dealing with the unique challenges of the marine realm.

The research project is funded by the Browse LNG Development operated by Woodside and the work is carried out by AIMS staff including scientists, technicians and their collaborators.

AIMS' Co-ordinator of Health, Safety and Environment, Mr David Williams, said that the award provided recognition of the major effort AIMS had put in to developing its safety management systems and the priority placed on providing a safe workplace.

"At AIMS, safety is a priority and inherent in the way we work," Mr Williams said. "Of significance is the evolution of a safety culture where everyone is encouraged and in fact empowered to play an active role in continuously improving safety at AIMS.

"The project presented a range of unique offshore challenges including diving, oceanographic work and complex vessel operations, particularly given Scott Reef's remote location halfway between Broome and Indonesia," he said.

"The safety system was developed with significant consultation between AIMS and our main stakeholders Woodside, Riverside Marine and Arden Marine. This has provided a collaborative foundation for the research activities."

The safety system has been in place since January 2008 and is continuously reviewed and improved. Since its implementation, a strong culture has developed among field staff, ensuring that all participants are stakeholders in the process and valued for their input.

"We are proud to say that in more than 18 months of operation, the commitment to safety has provided a safe workplace." AIMS CEO Dr Ian Poiner said.

"We are never complacent and always vigilant, so the system is monitored and improved constantly to maintain an excellent performance." he said.

The SRRP, officially launched by the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research Senator Kim Carr in April 2008, is filling knowledge gaps about the Scott Reef system. The region is expected to be economically significant to Australia for the foreseeable future, as a site of future offshore energy exploration and production.

For further information, please contact:

Mr David Williams, AIMS HSE Co-ordinator ,07 4753 4304, 0417 140 486, dg.williams@aims.gov.au
Ms Wendy Ellery, AIMS media liaison, 07 4753 4409, 0418 729 265 ,w.ellery@aims.gov.au

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