Michael Muscat - 2017 HSR of the Year

MM Official 

Michael Muscat, Visy Board Coolaroo
2017 HSR of the Year

So what makes a great HSR?

At the WorkSafe Awards Dinner on Thursday October 19, Michael Muscat, HSR at Visy Board Coolaroo was named the 2017 Health and Safety Representative of the Year.

SafetyNet had an opportunity to interview Michael about how he felt getting the Award, and what his experiences have been. Check out his answers – and you will be able to answer the question, "So what makes a great HSR?"

1 - How long have you worked at Visy Board Coolaroo?

I have been with the company for 26 years.

2 - How long have you been an HSR and why did you take on the role?

I have been an HSR for 19 years. I took the role on due to the pride I have in my work and the interest I have always had in helping to achieve a safe working environment for my fellow workers.

3 - When your name was read out at the Awards Dinner as HSR of the year, were you surprised? What did you think?

To be quite honest I was very nervous on the night, but when my name was read out I was extremely happy not just for myself but for the whole team it's a reflection of the hard work that we put in and I was extremely proud for the recognition.

4 – In your acceptance speech, you said that you'd realised that a third of your life has been dedicated to safety. Was it getting the award that brought this home to you, and why?

Health and Safety is something that I take seriously and am very committed to. Being able to demonstrate the same commitment in my work place becomes second nature.

5 – What are some of the hazards and risks faced by the members of your DWG?

Like any workplace, there are (or have been) a number of hazards, such as manual handling hazards, plant, equipment and traffic hazards and fatigue.

6 – What do you think you've been able to achieve during your time as HSR? What do you think has been your greatest achievement? And how did you manage to achieve these things?

  • Implementing and maintaining Risk Controls to high traffic management areas;
  • Reducing manual handling across the workplace;
  • Initiating discussions with regards to fatigue in the workplace. As a result of this a third shift has been created to reduce working hours and this has reduced the risks of fatigue for employees.

7 – What have been some of the difficulties you have encountered as HSR? How did you tackle these difficulties? Have things improved or deteriorated?

  • Changing the work culture to achieve a safer place at work;
  • Identifying risks before they happen;
  • Getting Management on board with the change in culture to achieve a safer work place.

8 – Do you think receiving the award is going to make it easier or harder for you in your role as HSR? Why?

I was very honoured to have received the Victorian HSR Representative of the Year Award. Work at Visy will continue to run as normal . My fellow co-workers have been advised that the award was a team effort and that safety in the work place is also a team effort.

9 – What have you found most useful in terms of being an effective HSR?

Having the full support of my HSE Manager Glen Sharp and Percy Pillia from AWU, as well as allowing fellow co-workers to be involved in the changes made.

10 – What advice would you give:

  •  a new HSR?
    • Start by improving the work culture
    • Remember nothing at work should come before Health and Safety. 
    • Ensure that your fellow co-workers are confident to come to you with any work related issue.
  • an HSR who has been in the role for some time and is feeling frustrated?
    Always remember – 
    • do not be too hard on yourself. 
    • Things take time to change
    • The end result of going home each night knowing your fellow co-workers are safe makes it all worthwhile.

11- Is there anything else you would like to add?

Ensure that the hard work towards these changes are passed on to others. And to me:  A good HRS is a Rep who listens to and works with their team. I want to ensure that the people I work and represent are comfortable coming to me with their work related issues. I encourage them to come to me and discuss with them how they feel and how we can improve a situation to resolve their issue in order to make their work place a happy and safe environment.

Michael at the Gala Awards dinner, with AWU OHS Officer, Percy Pillai

Michael Muscat Percy Pillai