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Regulator urges safe approach to storm recovery

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of members. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Date: 
Thursday, 10 June, 2021 - 21:45
Category: 
Industry news
Location: 
Victoria

Victorians were recently urged by WorkSafe Victoria to be aware of potential dangers during post-storm clean-up and recovery work.

Unstable or partially collapsed structures, fallen or damaged trees, fallen powerlines and floodwaters are among the common health and safety risks following the destructive weather across the state.

Many property owners and volunteers will also be using potentially hazardous equipment that they may be unfamiliar with or use infrequently, such as power tools and ladders.

It was critical to fully consider how each task could be done safely before getting started, said WorkSafe Victoria executive director of health and safety Julie Nielsen.

“It is not just those who are working on the clean-up who could be at risk but also friends and family, emergency service workers, vehicles, neighbouring properties and public infrastructure,” Nielsen said.

“People will understandably want to get things back to normal as quickly as possible, but rushing and taking shortcuts could potentially only make the situation even worse.”

WorkSafe Victoria said there were a number of important considerations during storm clean-up and recovery:

  • Before starting any task, take time to identify potential hazards and consider how to remove or mitigate the associated risks.
  • Ensure work is properly planned and coordinated with regular communication, sufficient supervision and regular rest breaks.
  • Only use equipment that is in good condition, fit for purpose and has appropriate guards in place.
  • Have appropriate personal protective equipment for each task (for example boots, gloves, eye and ear protection, hats, sun protective clothing and high visibility vests) and ensure it is worn correctly.
  • Ensure machinery and vehicle operators are competent and experienced in using specific equipment for the intended task.
  • Clear debris from areas where vehicles are operating, implement traffic management plans and be aware of potential washouts hidden by standing water.
  • Use powered machinery for lifting large or heavy items, particularly if they are waterlogged.
  • Identify any likely asbestos-containing materials or dangerous chemicals.
  • Ensure children are well supervised and away from areas where work is going on.