Black Hops award win after Qld safety program

Black Hops Brewing‘s focus on safety has earned the brewery a major prize in the Safe Work and Return to Work Awards 2022.

The Gold Coast brewery worked with Workplace Health and Safety Queensland and its Injury Prevention and Management program (IPaM) to improve its safety practices.

As a result of this partnership and adding a new safety role to the business, Black Hops scooped the Small Business Award for Most Significant Improvement to Work Health and Safety Performance.

Dan Shane joined Black Hops last year to focus on health, safety and HR.

“We had John [Smith], the Senior Advisor for Workplace Safety Queensland, come out to do the IPaM programme session,” Shane explained.

“We undertook an audit of the business and had developed a business improvement plan including 54 items to be compliant and [instigate] best practices in beer manufacturing.

“They gave advice on [things like] which code of practices refer to, which piece of legislation or guidance we needed on how to implement what we need to implement,” he said.“And we worked very closely with staff to change the safety culture.

“Now we’ve won the award for health and safety and a few more breweries in Queensland – I think six – have taken up the programme and they refer to us as best practice for health and safety.”

Health and safety has been a major focus of the industry as it grows, with the Independent Brewers Association declaring that embedding quality control and quality management systems in place will be key to ensuring the future of the industry.

Health and safety culture

Shane explained that developing good practices in the brewery is about creating an internal culture which is geared towards safety.

“It’s a commitment from the staff. So [they] understand why we have the procedures and why we have everything in place – we’re not just doing it because we have to do it because it’s the law.

“There’s a reason we’re doing it. We want people to be safe and happy at work, and so they can get home from the worksite every day.

“A lot of feedback from people on the floor is that it was just normal in brewing to not be doing everything correctly,” he explained.

“For example, with confined spaces like entering tanks, and noise protection and hearing – it’s pretty frequent for brewers to get some hearing loss because they don’t have the right measures in place.

“There are a lot of horror stories out there just because people didn’t realise the dangers of what they were doing.”

This is changing as brewers come into the industry from other sectors or from health and safety-focused educational routes such as TAFE Queensland, and as a result of the introduction and engagement of brewers with programmes such as IPaM.

“Having that programme, it gave me a focus on what we needed to do. And because of my background I do have some health and safety working, warehousing and retail, I was able to interpret what we needed to do,” Shane explained.

“It’s an industry where [Workplace Health and Safety Queensland] is really keen to get involved in it because craft brewing is growing quite a lot across Australia, especially in Queensland. It’s good to set the standard with all these new breweries coming in place.

“It’s a great programme – it’s the only programme in whole Australia that they actually allocate a senior advisor for the whole period of time that you need to come in and work with you not to come in and you know, say you’re doing this wrong and handout compliance notices or fines, they actually genuinely want to come in and improve businesses.”

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland has a safety fundamentals toolkit to help brewers get started.

The organisation is also scoping interest for a free Safety Fundamentals Virtual workshop specifically tailored to breweries. Any brewers wishing to take part in the virtual workshop should contact IPaM programs advisory field services manager John Leigh.

Employers who are interested in joining the IPaM program can find out more and register here.

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