Eddie Bugajewski started his working life as an ambulance officer. He was tasked with helping people on the worst day of their life, including caring for victims of industrial accidents, and seeing people who were injured daily.
“It was hard work and emotionally challenging, but I just wanted to help,” says Royal Wolf’s Director of Health, Safety, Environment, and Quality (HSEQ).
After a number of rewarding years in the ambulance service, he made the decision to turn his skills to finding ways and developing solutions to prevent people from being hurt in the workplace.
“I’ve been a safety professional for 32 years, I love my job, and helping people stay safe is what I do best. It’s about using everything from analytical skills and experience, through to needs-based outcomes and finding solutions to difficult problems, to keep people safe.”
Bugajewski says a company’s proven health, safety, and environment (HSE) credentials are key to attracting top talent and business success in the current workplace market.
“Ultimately, it’s all about creating a safe place to work, taking care of your staff, and reducing injuries and fatalities.”
Prevention and solutions
He knows incidents and accidents will happen, and even though it’s part of the job, he takes these personally. Yet, instead of dwelling on the impact of incidents, he turns straight to an explanation based on prevention and solutions.
“There's always a step change that you can make to help improve the process in the workplace. It's about looking at the bigger picture of what you're doing at work. So, I'm always talking to our people about the different tools that are available to keep them and their work mates safe.”
He uses the example of Royal Wolf’s Hazard 360 process, a dynamic risk assessment that is used to observe and identify dangers or hazards.
“The way I describe how it works is, if you're driving, you're always looking at things coming towards you and coming from the side. So, some of the questions you ask are: If I start this job right now what are those things that can hurt me? What can hurt my work mates? What can we do to stop that from happening? It's quite a simple yet effective process.”
Safety the highest priority
Safety is Royal Wolf’s highest priority and since joining the company in early 2023, Bugajewski has worked to enhance and further strengthen its commitment to HSE.
“The team is truly dedicated to safety which is supported by a Regional Vice President and a senior leadership team that is passionate about their people and their safety. What I was able to do was implement a strategy and direction to take it to the next level by enhancing factors such as document control, consultation, and communication of HSE policies across the entire business.”
Bugajewski is personable, the kind of guy who gets on with anyone, and it’s just as well because it takes a certain type of personality to ensure processes and policies are followed by employees.
“I spend time at our operational sites, working with our people, meeting and greeting, and talking to them – that’s really important. There’s no point being a shiny bum in my position because you can’t lead from a throne. You need to be out there with the people.”
Along with being a people person, Bugajewski also brings technical expertise and a true understanding and enthusiasm for HSE.
He has been a member of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety (AIHS) for more than 22 years and recently received the AIHS Fellowship, awarded to those who make an outstanding and ongoing contribution in the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) sector.
Induction, training, and, if needed, stop work
For Bugajewski, safety in a business starts with ensuring new employees are given a thorough induction to provide them with safe work practises and procedures that are expected of them. Then, providing appropriate, and ongoing training, is the next step.
“We're constantly reviewing the types of training we're delivering to ensure that people in high-risk positions are competent to do that work and to keep people safe as they do their daily activities.”
Another key process, which makes teamwork important, is Royal Wolf’s Stop Work Authority process.
“It's imperative when they’re faced with an issue they don't know how to handle, they need to take a step back, stop what they're doing, and understand the process before they continue rather than doing something in a hazardous way.
“That process is essential and will save a lot of people from getting hurt – I hate people getting hurt.”