Work safety subsidies for food processors

Monday, 28 March, 2005

WorkSafe Victoria is taking expressions of interest from small to medium-sized food and beverage processors for a new subsidy scheme to help them improve occupational health and safety.

The financial assistance is being offered as part of Project FRESH - a joint initiative between WorkSafe and the food and beverage industry. Project FRESH companies work together to identify and solve common OHS problems.

The subsidy scheme will help smaller Victorian-based manufacturers implement the best practice OHS solutions identified through the project.

Project FRESH started in March 2004. Since then, small groups of companies (11 in total) have been working together to develop best practice risk controls and OHS management solutions.

Another four new companies are now onboard in the latest round. They are Coca-Cola Amatil, Heinz Australia (Girgarre site), Warrnambool Cheese and Butter and McCain Foods (three sites at Ballarat).

Project FRESH manager, Sue Pilkington, said there were also a number of other companies waiting to take part in the project, which is scheduled for completion at the end of this year.

Ms Pilkington said the single most significant aspect of this project was the enthusiasm of participants.

"There has been a genuine desire to work together, not only with other participants, but with other organisations in their local area not involved in project," said Ms Pilkington.

"For example, in the Echuca region, Heinz and Simplot Australia arranged a collaborative group with other local food industry workplaces to work together to address a number of common OHS issues."

She said all participants had indicated that a major benefit of the project was being able to speak to others facing the same issues and having the opportunity to investigate issues systematically.

"They have also been able to visit other workplaces and work together with their peers to identify practical and sustainable risk controls."

The best practice initiatives identified from the first round of the project are now being compiled in a user-friendly format, which will be made available on the WorkSafe website early in 2005.

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