A safe workplace is a sustainable workplace
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A safe workplace is a sustainable workplace

Category Client Stories

   Farm safety image

Jocelyn Etherington is dedicated to promoting a safe workplace for Rabobank employees.


As a former registered nurse, working in operating theatres across Sydney and rural Australia, Patricia McCann unfortunately knows all too well the reality of workplace accidents.

And today she’s taking a lead helping promote safety and wellbeing to prevent potential injuries, illness and tragic outcomes as part of the Rabobank Work Health Safety Team.

Together with Jocelyn Etherington, the two women are helping raise the visibility of Rabobank’s workplace safety and wellbeing message.

“Yes, there are legal compliance obligations we must manage, but it’s about looking after our people and focusing on our ethical and moral obligations to provide a safe and healthy workplace,” Patricia explained.

“We want to encourage staff, particularly those visiting farms, factories or manufacturing facilities, to be aware of the environment they are working in – putting on personal protective equipment (PPE) like a high vis vest, just makes you a moving target, it is not the best form of defence in keeping you out of harm’s way,” Patricia explained.

”We encourage our people to be aware of their surroundings and the environments they are working, in the first instance, that is the better option.”

Leading through experience

Living in the rural community of Gunnedah, NSW in which she was born and bred, and having also worked as a workplace health and safety professional for 25 years for companies in high risk industries like mining, civil construction and building construction, Patricia has an acute understanding of the daily risks people face wherever they may be working.

“While our Rabobank staff don’t have the same risks as their farming clients, we do have a number of potential high risks in the fact that we visit farming clients, have a B-Double RaboTruck that travels the country, and our people are travelling for work purposes in varied environments in one of our 360 fleet vehicles, or personal vehicles.”

Jocelyn, who is based in the Sydney office, has an extensive background in workplace health, safety and environment – initially in newspaper manufacturing facilities across Australia, and eventually rolling out corporate-wide health promotion and risk management initiatives including for journalists travelling in war torn and Avian flu affected countries.

Later, in what she describes as a total 180 degrees, she helped build a boutique food and cocktail business for an international company, affording her extensive insights into the food manufacturing and distribution industry.

“I visited farmers in Australia, Thailand and Malaysia who produced crops of Hibiscus flowers and other native fruits, which were manufactured into a range of products in Australia and distributed and marketed globally. It gave me a really good understanding of farming systems, machinery, procedures, food safety, sustainable practices, and the people involved from Farm to Plate.”

Now, Jocelyn feels like she’s in her ‘happy place’.

“All the elements of my career – workplace safety and food production – are now directed into the one place here at Rabobank, and I’m so excited to help contribute to a matured culture of safety.”

Encouraging a culture of safety

Acknowledging that a large number of staff hail from a farming background and are aware of the risks, an aim of the safety team is also to encourage staff to add value through continued client safety conversations. 

“We want our staff to be comfortable raising safety concerns with their clients when on farm, or if there’s something they’ve seen on a client’s property that they’re not sure about. We’re here to explore the problem, and facilitate solutions with clients through a safety lens,” Jocelyn said.

“We encourage a culture where people feel safe raising safety issues, on-farm or in the workplace, so we can be proactive rather than reactive when developing our programs.”

Patricia said that workplace health and safety compliance was part of a modern business, and that their function was to ease this process by helping interpret the legalities, and make processes and systems workable for staff.

“We want people to really think about their safety before they step into the office, a vehicle, or on-farm. If staff put their safety into a personal perspective, and consider an injury’s impact on family or the ability to work, the flow-on impacts can be enormous.”

Patricia McCann

Patricia McCann has an extensive background working in health and safety across rural and regional Australia.

Building a sustainable future

“A sustainable business is a safe business – a workplace needs productive staff, not one interrupted by incidents and people being hurt.”

The pair are currently building and writing management systems, and working on a number of programs that will help mitigate staff risk, including a ‘Driver and Vehicle Safety’ Program.

“Our Rabobank relationship managers drive an average of 40,000km per year annually, and while some staff think nothing of driving five hours for a two hour meeting, and then driving five hours home again, we want to make sure no one feels unsafe doing their job,” Patricia said.

“We want to reset the mindset across the bank, and encourage staff to take a moment to think about risks before travelling, rather than a ‘let’s jump in the car’ mentality.

Jocelyn explained that another aspect of their role focussed on psychosocial wellbeing, and helping manage workplace stress and anxiety.

“Workloads, interpersonal relationships, deadlines, organisational pressure all take a toll, and we’re committed to the mental wellbeing of our staff,” she said.

“It’s these factors, if left unchecked, that can lead to poor lifestyle choices and serious mental health challenges, so again, we want to take a proactive stance rather than a reactionary one.”

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