Note Printing Australia is situated at Craigieburn, 25 kilometers from Melbourne on the Hume Highway. Its main function is to design and print Australia's polymer currency and to sell banknotes to overseas central banks. This article summarizes how we introduced Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) Best Practice and employee accountability for OH&S into the day-to-day activities of the organization.

Prior to 1991

Before 1991, Note Printing Australia had no commitment from senior management to OH&S. We had approximately 8 work site safety committees, who met on a monthly basis and reported every three months to a Central Safety Committee. Thiskind of reporting system was highly inefficient and resulted in a large number of issues not being addressed.

The Safety Officer employed at that time was involved in other areas, including organisational restructure and industrial relations with OH&S receiving scant attention. Only when a serious issue was raised that affected production, would something be done.

The organization had major problems in OH&S and workers. compensation, with an average of four injuries each week and over 130 compensation claims per year, from a staff which then totalled 600 employees. In 1990 twelve employees had been absent from work for over two years with alleged compensation injuries.

Post 1991

In 1991 the organization took a change of direction. The Reserve Bank of Australia implemented the recommendations of a study conducted by the McKinsey Consultancy on how they believed Note Printing Australia could become a successful business enterprise. The report recommended that Note Printing Australia should become a Division of the Reserve Bank of Australia, with its own board of directors. A new managing director, senior management and a full-time OH&S coordinator were appointed. At the same time, the Federal Occupational Health and Safety Act was proclaimed.

The first task of the new management team was to engage the services of an outside risk management team, whose project was to benchmark where NPA was in OH&S. Richard Oliver International conducted a three-day site visit and audited the organization on nineteen key elements. The results of the audit revealed that Note Printing Australia had a long road to travel if it wanted to become a Best Practice employer.

The Vision of Management

The new management's vision was:

  • to provide a duty of care to all employees, contractors and visitors;

  • to meet Commonwealth and State legislative requirements;

  • to develop a sense of responsibility for OH&S in management's and employee's day-to-day activities;

  • to develop a user-friendly safety manual, and to provide a framework to measure safety.

A team was established, consisting of myself (as the Occupational Health and Safety Coordinator) and our Project Engineer, whose terms of reference from management covered the implementation of the Richard Oliver Report recommendations, establishment of a Best Practice Safety Program and realization of the vision for OH&S.

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