Positive safety approach

WHEN Billy Ayres bought the building for his auto mechanic business in Traralgon, he said it was probably the most unsafe workplace in the Valley.

“It was old, dark and damp; it took a lot of money to replace and upgrade everything, but we have no budget limit for safety here,” Mr Ayres said.

He now prides himself on running one of the cleanest businesses in the Valley.

“I have worked in a lot of different and dangerous environments, both off-shore and in the power industry, where you stringently need to apply a lot of safety regulations.”

However Mr Ayres said just as much diligence was required in smaller businesses, where things could be often overlooked.

As an employer of seven staff, the business holds a “tool box meeting” each week, where employees are encouraged to bring up potential safety issues which they think need more attention.

“As a business owner I’m not on the tools every day, so that feedback is hugely important; if you don’t monitor it yourself, you can miss things, so the guys all communicate about things they come across in their day-to-day work and come back to me,” Mr Ayres said.

“No one is under any pressure here to work unsafely, I can’t stress that enough; some diagnosis jobs can sometimes turn into four or five hour jobs, but no one is under pressure to get things finished quicker than what is safe to do so.

“The last thing we want here is people rushing around making mistakes; having worked in environments where everyone is under the pump, something will always happen.”

After the business was visited as part of the WorkSafe crackdown last week, WorkSafe acting group leader for Traralgon Phil Maskrey said Mr Ayres had welcomed the scrutiny as a learning process.

“He took a positive approach to our idea of visiting, he said that it was a learning experience where he wasn’t intimidated by the potential of us being there,” Mr Maskrey said.

“He’s taken the care to get it right; the responsibility definitely lays with both management and workers to engage in discussions and move forward in a joint effort; they are responsible for their own health and safety and it ultimately is a joint issue.”