WA: regulator issues warning about cyclone contingency plans

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of the Workplace Health and Safety profession. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Friday, 22 January, 2021 - 12:45
Industry news
Western Australia

Businesses throughout Western Australia were recently reminded by WorkSafe WA to ensure that contingency plans have been established and are in operation after the season’s first cyclone formed off the North-West coast.

It was crucial that everyone on both sea and land knew what to do when a cyclone approached, said WorkSafe WA Commissioner Darren Kavanagh.

“Under workplace safety and health laws employers must have adequate plans in place, and must provide employees with adequate training to protect everyone in the workplace in the event of a cyclone,” Kavanagh said.

“The Bureau of Meteorology has forecast an average to above-average number of tropical cyclones in the waters off the North-West coast this season. The average number of cyclones per season is five.

“BoM has forecast a likelihood of at least two coastal impacts, with a significant risk of at least one severe impact.

“Western Australia has experienced numerous cyclones that 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 from several companies where a coordinated plan is vital.”

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 to prevent injury and harm well before a cyclone is in their vicinity,” Kavanagh 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.”