With the season’s first cyclone off the North-West coast of Australia, businesses throughout WA have been reminded to ensure that contingency plans have been established and are in operation.
It was crucial that everyone on both sea and land knew what to do when there was a cyclone in the area, said WorkSafe WA director Chris Kirwin.
“Under workplace safety and health laws, employers must have adequate plans in place and provide adequate training to protect workers in the event of a cyclone,” Kirwin said.
“The Bureau of Meteorology has forecast a slightly lower than average number of tropical cyclones in the waters off the North-West coast this season.
“The average number of cyclones that approach the WA coast each year is 10 to 13, but it only takes one to cause significant damage and suffering, as demonstrated by the tragic circumstances surrounding Cyclone George in 2007.
“It’s extremely important that everyone in a workplace – regardless of their employer - knows exactly what he or she needs to do in the event of a cyclone threat.
“This is particularly important on sites with employees of several companies where coordinated plans must be in place.”
Fishing vessels need to keep a list of sheltered anchorages and have information on how to use them, along with a specific action plan for each vessel depending on the distance from the cyclone and safe havens.
For the fishing, charter and recreational sectors, the Department of Transport has cyclone contingency plans for regional boat harbours at Point Samson (Johns Creek), Onslow (Beadon Creek), Exmouth, Carnarvon, Coral Bay and Denham.
“Employers should not leave anything to chance when a cyclone is threatening, and must make sure safe work practices are in place well before a cyclone is in their vicinity,” Kirwin said.
“Whether the workplace is a fishing vessel or in a land-based location, everyone should be trained in the cyclone contingency plan and follow all instructions given when a cyclone is approaching.”