The awarding of safety awards by government OHS authorities in Australia have needed reviewing for some time. There remains inconsistencies on the openness of the judging processes and differences in award categories. In 2009, John Holland’s award nomination was withdrawn and now, according to the a video report on TV program Today Tonight in Adelaide, another safety award has been withdrawn.
According to the Today Tonight (click on SafeWork story on the left of the screen or in archives) South Australian manufacturing company Harsco has had its award withdrawn because the company fudged its safety performance figures. The media release issued on 21 January 2011 by SafeWorkSA, the regulator managing the state-based awards, says:
“After careful consideration, the Panel has decided to rescind the award presented to Harsco Metals in the category of Private Sector Employer of the Year on the basis of anomalies in the interpretation and presentation of injury claims data made in the award entry.”
SafeworkSA is at pains to stress the ongoing integrity of the awards process but this action, emphasised by the attention given to the issue by Today Tonight, is a serious blow.
However, some good has come from the incident. SafeworkSA says:
“In order to avoid such confusion in future, the judging criteria will explicitly state the preferred means of interpreting and presenting injury claims data for all award entrants.”
“The award, given annually to the contractor who has made the greatest contribution to safety, health and the environment throughout SABIC’s global operations, recognizes Harsco’s exceptional safety performance at SABIC’s Geleen petrochemicals plant in the Netherlands. Harsco has worked at the site for more than three years without any EU-OSHA violations.”
“This award reaffirms the pre-eminent importance of safety to our customers, our employees and our entire Harsco organization,”
“All nominations for the annual awards are adjudicated by a team of SafeWork SA representatives and after review and assessment the process moves to auditing and interviewing nominees to determine the award winner.”