When it comes to Work Health and Safety (WHS), individuals and organisations shouldn’t simply solve problems for their business – it is important that they aim to solve challenges for their whole industry. This is what our 2018 WHS Champion of the Year, Owen Leslie, believes.

Owen Leslie is the WHS Manager for NECA NSW, which is a not-for-profit peak industry body for electrical contractors. Based from his home office in Cessnock, Owen helps hundreds of electrical contractors in the Hunter and hundreds more from all around NSW with their WHS challenges on a daily basis.

“Being recognised as the 2018 WHS Champion of the Year is one of the best feelings,” Owen said, “I was overwhelmed with so much gratitude.”

“There are a lot of people who helped me on the sidelines that I would like to show sincere gratitude to,” Owen continued. “Those people who I work with and supported me should also be recognised.”

Owen received this award due to his work in the field of Electrical Safety, specifically arc flash hazards often faced by electricians.

“There have been a number of electricians that have died at work due to arc flash explosions over the past five years,” Owen said.

“The Hunter Safety Awards honours their memory by rewarding initiatives that seek to prevent these types of incidents in the future.”

Owen represents NECA NSW members by providing submissions to State and Federal Governments and attending many professional service positions.

As part of these initiatives he has developed a working on or near exposed energised conductors’ policy, written in consultation with the NECA WHS committee.

“We are currently working with two major utility companies to help assess and develop even greater arc flash protection and guidance for the electrical industry,” Owen said.
With the 2019 Hunter Safety Awards fast approaching, Owen shared some advice for individuals and organisations facing WHS challenges.

“My advice to other individuals would be to take on problems or barriers to safe work,” Owen said, “Work through the problem and engage the industry and suppliers to help you solve it.”

“Seek the advice of your industry associations and include them in your WHS challenges,” Owen continued.

“Someone else may have already solved the same issue and you can learn from their experiences.”

“Most importantly, remember that if it hasn’t been done before, it doesn’t mean it can’t be done.”


IMAGE | Hunter Safety Awards 2018 WHS Champion of the Year, Owen Leslie.