WorkSafe WA recently conducted a proactive safety inspection program of workplaces where machinery and equipment are repaired has uncovered concerns with hazardous substances, mobile plant and emergency procedures.
The program involved WorkSafe inspectors visiting workplaces where repairs are carried out on items such as agricultural and farm machinery, lawnmowers, outboard motors, pumps and compressors, mining equipment and material handlers in Perth and regional areas of the state.
The machinery repair and maintenance sector had been identified as an industry with high rates of work-related injury, said WorkSafe WA Director of Industrial and Regional Chris Kirwin.
“One of the reasons for conducting an inspection program in this sector was an increase over the past five years of more than 80 per cent in the number of injuries that kept employees off work for more than a day, and a whopping 230 per cent increase in the number of injuries that kept employees off work for 60 days or more,” Kirwin said.
“This inspection program has uncovered some concerns with safety in the areas of hazardous substances, emergency procedures and mobile plant and vehicle movement.
“The inspectors were also surprised to find more cases than they expected of workers operating mobile plant without being in possession of a High Risk Work Licence.”
Inspectors visited a total of 128 workplaces as part of the program, resulting in the issue of 980 improvement notices, three prohibition notices and 78 verbal directions.
The largest number of notices issued – 210 notices – related to hazardous substances, with 105 of these concerning the lack of a register of hazardous substances and/or material safety data sheets.
A significant number of notices (160) related to mobile plant and vehicle movement, with most relating to the maintenance of mobile plant and the keeping of records of pre-start checks and maintenance.
A total of 148 notices related to emergency procedures, with 57 related to a failure to develop and clearly display evacuation procedures.
During this inspection program, inspectors focused on priority areas including manual tasks, electricity, lock-out and tagging, the use of hazardous substances and slips, trips and falls.
They also looked closely at issues more specific to the industry such as the use of single-post hoists, pressure vessels and guillotines and the induction training of new and young workers.
“The number of workers the inspectors came across who were performing high risk work without the relevant licence was quite alarming,” Kirwin said.
“As a result, inspectors will be paying extra attention to High Risk Work Licences in all workplaces they visit, and this sector in particular will be closely monitored.”