"Have a Look Mate"

This came from Barry Dunn, currently a WorkSafe Inspector, previously an HSR on the docks.

It was on one of my first night shifts, that I heard the words used, for that meaning, for the very first time.

I looked at the old hand Wharfie who’d spoken the words through the darkness in the ships hold, and wondered… ‘What’s he on about’?

Cliff gestured upward with his head, and I looked up to see another container was being craned in, some 20 odd metres directly above me; not surprisingly - I remember the words well!

Over 8 years working on the Waterfront, I heard (and used) the words countless times, always when a colleague was in a hazardous situation which they hadn’t recognised.
 
I never once saw a person ‘take offence’ upon hearing the words.

I’m not quite sure where the words originated, the Bosses never ‘taught’ them to us; but Stevedoring is a ‘tight’ industry, rich in heritage where traditions and lingo have passed through generations.

It’s easy to imagine that the words evolved among mates, when Tall Ships plied the new country, or perhaps they arrived with us from Docks in our Motherlands?

What’s difficult to imagine though, is how many lives the words have saved, or how much suffering they’ve prevented.

I left the Waterfront in 2004 and returned to Construction; off-the-tools now and working OHS.

The work (unfortunately) regularly gives me cause to ponder questions about ‘safety-culture’, and similarities between Stevedoring and Construction; in both industries, risk never sleeps…
    

  • Men work to tight schedules, in tight spaces, which they have to share with suspended loads and heavy powered mobile plant… second chances are few.
  • Men toil at heights and heavy repetitious manual tasks, in all elements, to secure a livelihood for themselves and the ones they love.
  • Mates care, and try to watch out for each other’s backs.
  • Both industries contain many ‘rough diamonds’ that are not particularly fond of interference, or being told what to do.
  • Workers continue to be killed, maimed and injured needlessly, with unacceptable regularity.
 
Still, despite all similarities, Construction remains poorer, but for want of one small thing…

A few simple, but ‘universally understood’ words that can be spoken between fellows, without fear of offending… “Have A Look Mate!”

Barry Dunn – Inspector
Construction & Utilities Program
WorkSafe Victoria

PS: Thanks Cliffy

More Items

  • Marg Howard: 2011 OHS Rep of the Year

    Read more about Marg Howard, HSR at Nestle Uncle Tobys and member of the NUW....read more

  • Glen Barber: 2010 OHS Rep of the Year

    What makes Glen a great rep? What advice does he have for others?...read more

  • Derek Jones: 2008 OHS Rep of the Year (co-winner)

    Derek Jones is one of the joint winners of the 2008 OHS Rep of the Year. We spoke with him about winning the award and some of the important lessons he has learned over his six years as an occupational health and safety rep...read more

  • Tarek Soueid: 2007 OHS Rep of the Year

    Tarek Soueid was awarded the Health and Safety Representative of the Year for 2007....read more

  • Brodene Wardley: 2006 OHS Rep of the Year

    At the 2006 WorkSafe Awards Brodene Wardley was nominated Occupational Health and Safety Representative of the year.  Brodene is a CFMEU member who believes that standing up and speaking out are very important on sites like the one she worked at: the Hamilton Sands Project....read more

  • Vale Bernie Banton, a true Australian hero

    The tireless anti-asbestos campaigner, Bernie Banton, passed away peacefully in his sleep at 1am Tuesday November 27th, 2007. ...read more

  • Vale Tony Medina

    A dedicated union member and organiser, Tony lost his fight with mesothelioma...read more

  • Pat Preston - OHS Manager CFMEU

    Pat Preston, the 2005 recipient of the Award for Outstanding Leadership and Contribution to Health and Safety, is well known throughout Victoria’s construction industry as the previous Manager of the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union’s OHS & Environmental Unit. ...read more

  • Professor Harry Glasbeek - Corporate Crime Fighter

    Professor Harry Glasbeek has been described as ‘one of several almost unsung heroes of the Canadian occupational health and safety movement’....read more

  • Peter Gordon: Fighting for asbestos victims' rights

    Peter Gordon is a Senior Partner with the well-known labour law firm Slater & Gordon, who has for over 20 years sought justice and compensation for thousands of workers exposed to the deadly fibre, asbestos. He spoke with SafetyNet about 2 asbestos-related matters that are currently engaging his attention....read more

  • Owen Tudor - Unions and OHS

    Owen Tudor, then the director of the Occupational Health and Safety Unit at the UK Trade Union Congress was in Australia in May 2003. Owen spoke at a number of OHS related forums, including the ceremony at VTHC for International Workers Memorial Day, at the ACTU and at WorkSafe Victoria. SafetyNet asked Owen a few questions on OHS generally, and the role of reps and unions in particular....read more

 

AskRenata

Please send in your occupational health and safety questions to Renata. We will respond within a few days.

Ask a question

Safetynet

Please complete the form below to subscribe to the SafetyNET Journal email newsletter.

Required fields are marked with an asterisk (*).

Your details

BE TRADES HALL TRAINED

Have you had your initial training yet? Want to do a refresher course? Register online!

OHS Training