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WA: inspection program in scientific testing workplaces

Tuesday, 23 July, 2019 - 14:15
Policy & legislation
Western Australia

WorkSafe WA recently conducted an inspection program examining safety in workplaces where scientific testing takes place.

The program involved WorkSafe inspectors visiting workplaces in Perth and regional areas of the State where non-destructive scientific testing including radiographic, ultrasonic, magnetic particle, liquid penetrant, electromagnetic and visual testing is carried out.

The scientific testing sector had been identified as having seen a noticeable increase in lost-time injuries classified as severe, said WorkSafe WA Acting Director Eve Speyers.

“Workers in scientific testing facilities are frequently required to handle heavy samples or to move heavy testing equipment when they are out in the field,” she said.

“Injuries associated with manual tasks frequently last some time, and can keep workers off work for 60 days or more.

“Improvement notices were issued during this inspection program related to a lack of risk assessment for manual tasks, so awareness could be improved. But overall, the results of this program were encouraging.”

Inspectors visited a total of 20 workplaces as part of the program, resulting in the issue of 112 improvement notices and 17 verbal directions.

The largest number of notices issued – 21 notices - related to mobile plant and vehicle movement in the workplace (load charts for plant and operators’ manuals), and 20 notices related to hazardous substances (registers and training records).

During this inspection program, inspectors concentrated on priority areas including manual tasks, hazardous substances, electricity, guarding of plant and slips, trips and falls.

In addition, they also looked at issues related to air compressors, personal protective equipment, noise, emergency procedures and working alone and/or remotely.

“This inspection program found that awareness was generally good in the larger organisations due to support from their own safety professionals and internal client audits,” Speyers said.

“However, the smaller operators needed some guidance to manage potential hazards, for example manual task hazards, and raise awareness of the risks associated with particular tasks in the industry.

“Consequently, we will continue to monitor compliance in this sector by conducting follow-up inspections and maintaining contact with stakeholders in the industry.”