Council staff pose with the Smart Plate in a grassy reserve.

Published on 12 April 2022

Smart idea wins top safety award

City of Onkaparinga has been recognised with a South Australian workplace safety award for an innovative idea to eliminate a drowning hazard. 

Council was awarded the Local Government Association of SA Scheme Award for WHS Best Practice (metropolitan area) last week for its development of the “Smart Plate” – a platform that allows staff to safely unblock stormwater pits on council roads. 

The idea for the platform came from City of Onkaparinga Technical Officer Infrastructure Maintenance, Michael Smart, who identified a hazard while inspecting a blocked stormwater pit that was inundated with water. 

“On this particular night this officer had to get down on his knees and reach into the pit with a shovel to clear the blockage,” explains council Team Leader of Civil Maintenance, Graham Searle. 

“As you can imagine, with a fair-sized pipe, when the officer managed to clear the blockage, all of a sudden there’s a heap of water going into that pit. 

“The next morning, he came into my office and we had a bit of a talk through the event and the potential for a serious incident.” 

Council’s Civil Maintenance and Work Health and Safety teams then went about designing a platform that would allow staff to safely inspect or unblock inundated pits, combined with new measures such as requiring two staff to be onsite, to reduce the risk to council staff. 

“This came from a near-miss report, so this has potentially prevented a catastrophic event in the future,” said council’s WHS Senior Business Partner, Melissa Nathan, who called the Smart Plate a first-of-its-kind innovation for council. 

“I’m most proud of the inclusion. A single worker reporting the incident, right through from the leadership team down to the field workers as well—everyone got involved.” 

City of Onkaparinga receives $15,000 for winning the award as well as recognition for its work in putting the safety of its workers at the at the heart of everything it does. 

You can watch an LGA video on the development of the Smart Plate here.