Herculean efforts to ensure staff and student safety earns team Vice-Chancellor’s Excellence Award

Some of the Laboratory Services Team receiving the Vice-Chancellor’s Excellence Award for OH&S. Pictured L-R Dr Kylie Wilson, Ms Ann-Maree Jefferis, Dr Pamu Kularathna, Dr Smita Mehta, Professor Margaret Gardner AC, President and Vice-Chancellor, Dr Ann Bohte
Some of the Laboratory Services Team receiving the Vice-Chancellor’s Excellence Award for OH&S. Pictured L-R Dr Kylie Wilson, Ms Ann-Maree Jefferis, Dr Pamu Kularathna, Dr Smita Mehta, Professor Margaret Gardner AC, President and Vice-Chancellor, Dr Ann Bohte

The Vice-Chancellor’s Excellence Awards for Occupational Health & Safety (OH&S) recognise staff who have made an outstanding contribution by implementing innovative and exciting ideas in OH&S at Monash. Nominated and led by Monash BDI’s Dr Ann Bohte, the Team Award this year went to the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences Laboratory Services Team.

The award recognises the team’s commitment to ensuring a safe work environment for students and staff and to delivering an outstanding student laboratory experience despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The team was instrumental to the ongoing success of the newly-operational Biomedical Learning and Teaching Building, consisting of large multi-disciplinary laboratories, by developing and implementing a complete OH&S system for it. Using a collaborative approach, these processes and procedures have now been standardised across biomedical teaching at Clayton, Caulfield and Peninsula campuses.

The team’s award-winning efforts included:

  1. Producing and distributing online a building safety video and laboratory-specific COVID safety videos, allowing inductions to take place at a time that suited users whilst also reducing the number of people required onsite to attend training.
  2. Overhauling operating instructions and risk assessments to include measures for working in a COVID-safe environment.  This included writing 155 new instructional Safe Working Instructions and 200 new Risk Assessments, and benchmarks the safety standard of future practical classes, building and equipment use.
  3. Developing new online practical content and supporting the delivery of face-to-face teaching with new strict safety protocols so that students were able to experience laboratory classes and master hands-on technical skills, even during the harshest lockdowns.

Professor John Carroll, Director of the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute, spoke of the team’s unwavering dedication and commitment when he congratulated them.

“Semester 1 2021 saw some of the highest student numbers in the Biomedical Learning and Teaching Building and we had to run night sessions for the first time ever. The technical and teaching team showed incredible resilience, and tirelessly went above and beyond to ensure students still had the chance to participate in practical laboratory classes, despite the challenges of lockdowns,” Professor Carroll said.

Team leader, Dr Ann Bohte stated: “I am grateful and inspired by the team’s effort, courage and dedication to support face-to-face laboratory teaching at Monash during this global pandemic. The creativity and ingenuity of collaborative efforts has led to a rigorous online induction process and the overhaul and implementation of safe practices that eliminate risk wherever possible.”

“These standards and safety mechanisms can be implemented beyond the BDI and benchmarks a new way forward for safety in the COVID era,” Dr Bohte said.

Congratulations to each member of the award-winning team:

  • Stephen Thompson
  • Rachelina D'Agruma
  • Dr Kylie Wilson
  • Dr Smita Mehta
  • Barbara Smith
  • Ann-Maree Jefferis
  • Dr Pamu Kularathna
  • Michelle Demetrious
  • Dr Anita Barry
  • Narelle Metcalf
  • Kushani Weerakoon
  • Dr Scott Clarke
  • Danielle West
  • Marie Bond
  • Frances Broomhead
  • Hinal Vekaria
  • Chris Bramich
  • Dr Kim Catania
  • Dr Claire Hirst

You can read about the other Vice-Chancellor Excellence Award recipients, including those for Diversity and Inclusion and Professional Staff Excellence Awards, here. And you can read about the 2021 Vice-Chancellor’s Education and Research Awards here.


About the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute

Committed to making the discoveries that will relieve the future burden of disease, the newly established Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute at Monash University brings together more than 120 internationally-renowned research teams. Our researchers are supported by world-class technology and infrastructure, and partner with industry, clinicians and researchers internationally to enhance lives through discovery.