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Robert’s tips to a safe, healthy and inclusive workplace

Celebrating United Nations World Safety and Health at Work Day (April 28) is a perfect time to share Robert’s story, and his Top 5 things to do for a safe and inclusive work environment.

Robert Butterfield ESM (Emergency Services Medal) is the Occupational Health and Safety Coordinator at Copper Mines of Tasmania’s My Lyell Mine. He’s also an adjudicator for the Tasmanian Mines Emergency Response Competitions.

The United Nations’ World Safety and Health at Work Day, acknowledges, among other things, that new and emerging occupational risks may be caused by technical innovation or by social or organisational change.

Robert started his career in mining in 1995 as an operator and progressed through various supervisory and safety roles. His interest in safety has seen him take on volunteer roles in emergency response services on the West Coast for many years.

His service was recognised with the Emergency Services Medal in January 2011. In the last 20 years, Robert has seen the focus on safety shift from Reactive to Proactive, with more awareness, more recognition, and more training in the field of safety. Collaboration, support, and guidance have become key components of safe workplaces. There is a greater willingness to talk about safety, particularly mental health, and to share experiences and concerns.

He has seen that everyone is more prepared to talk about struggles, and more training resources are available.

One of Robert’s key messages to his clients is ‘You are not alone”.

Everyone responds differently to stressors, to social issues, and to change. Asking people to share requires genuine interest and empathy, and creates an inclusiveness focus.

“A safe workplace is a respectful one”

Safety, inclusion, and respect are linked. An inclusive workplace ensures everyone feels safe mentally, physically, and emotionally. It is important to create a culture where everyone can share their different experiences and backgrounds and where they can be heard and respected.

Here are Robert’s tips on what businesses can do to ensure inclusivity and safety, he advised the following:

1. Have an open-door policy and be willing to engage with everyone
2. Keep private chats private (confidential)
3. Build confidence that people can share safely – it takes time
4. Listen and be nonjudgmental. Remember, you don’t have to have all the answers. Sometimes, all you have to do is listen.
5. Establish an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to offer free and confidential counselling services to address various personal and work-related problems.

Thank you, Robert, for all you continue to do in our industry and, in turn, across the community.

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