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Individual Contribution Award: Petty Officer Cameron Symons

Petty Officer Cameron Symons was the winner of the 2018 Comcare Work Health and Safety Individual Contribution Award.

Video transcript

About Petty Officer Cameron Symons

Petty Officer (PO) Cameron Symons joined the School of Survivability and Ship Safety (RANSSSS) as the principle Fire Fighting instructor. As a sailor, he has demonstrated a strong regard for health and safety matters and explicitly understands the requirement to eliminate or effectively manage the unique heat stresses within the fire ground.

The problem and/or challenge

Over time, PO Symons observed a pattern of deterioration in the physical and mental condition of his students and staff upon leaving their units at the end of a training session. He became concerned for their health and wellbeing. PO Symons began researching information and data on existing methodologies for the safe conduct of training activities in high temperature environments. PO Symons collaborated with training counterparts in Fire and Rescue New South Wales (FRNSW) and subject matter experts at the University of Wollongong. It was soon determined that whilst effects on the body were understood, there was no applied methodology for effective heat management in the workplace.

The approach and outcome

PO Symons, with a small team of seven, set up a range of controls to support data collection and trials. He was interested in measuring core, tympanic, oral and skin temperature, hydration, and the differences between two key zones (i.e., the fire zone and adjacent compartment). PO Symons amalgamated the testing and data collection with regular training processes that the students were undertaking. The data was collated and analysed and a heat management tool was developed to control exposure durations with adjusted recovery times and techniques to reduce the risk of heat related injuries. The sustained effort and outstanding commitment of PO Symons provided the organisation with a heat stress management protocol, designed and fit for purpose. Data gained from the trial has been used to inform the current procedure which has given instructional staff confidence that their health and safety is being effectively managed.

Key achievements

  • The development and implementation of heat stress protocols to prevent heat related injuries in relation to the use of the firefighting practical simulators.
  • Mandated use of the heat stress protocols across all RANSSSS facilities.
  • Updated standard operating procedures to reflect the implementation of heat stress protocols.
  • Increase in wellbeing and recovery time of staff involved in firefighting activities and a cultural change across the training school.
  • PO Symons has been contacted by other areas of Defence to roll out the training and procedures more broadly.

PO Cam Symons

Page last updated: 18 Oct 2018