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5 Minutes with Kym Bills

Posted by: The Communicator

We spent 5 minutes with WA Chair of Safety Institute of Australia Ltd, Kym Bills, who has a wealth of experience in workplace health and safety.

Describe your role in 1 sentence…

In my day role I lead a collaborative joint venture of CSIRO, Curtin University and University of Western Australia resource scientists and engineers called WA:ERA in the National Resource Sciences Precinct in Perth, but in my spare time I am also WA Branch Chair of the Safety Institute of Australia.

My proudest achievement is...

Beyond what is reflected from my wonderful wife and daughters, was setting up the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) in 1999 and leading its world class aviation, rail, marine and road safety professionals for the decade to 2009.  The ATSB did (and still does) a lot to reduce accidents and injuries and promote safety.

What makes you smile?


Smiling and laughing are important for health and I learned much from a public service mentor, Dr Allan Hawke AC, whose humour and regular belly laughs complemented his extraordinary leadership.  I smile at the many absurdities of life including when I take myself too seriously.  Amidst all the international strife and political turmoil, crime and tragedy we see in the news, it is important to notice and smile at the beauty of the world and reflect on the good including the many acts of kindness we see day to day.  Various genres of music also help sustain me.

What keeps you awake at night?

Having been involved in so many accident investigations where lives were lost or where scores could have been but for one critical control or defence, I still lose sleep when I see a casual approach to personal and process safety.  My investigation role with the Varanus Island gas pipeline explosions (see: ), where mercifully no-one was injured, provides some good lessons and even more dramatically, the recent Deepwater Horizon movie is well worth watching.

What makes your day rewarding?

My day is rewarding when I can encourage researcher collaboration with industry partners to solve difficult problems such as involving liquefied natural gas (LNG) and improve exports, employment and productivity.  Similarly, when encouraging safety partnerships and promoting best practice lessons and increased professionalism such as through the Safety Institute of Australia, makes a difference in reducing accidents, injuries and future workforce health problems, it is a rewarding day.

The Safety Institute of Australia is Australia’s professional association for the health & safety profession. Established for more than 60 years, the Institute has a membership of over 4,000 people interested in health and safety in the workplace, or actively working in the field of OHS.

About The Communicator

Spreading the word on the importance of good health and wellbeing in the workplace, home and community.

View all posts by The Communicator

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