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WA: Safety warning issued over cyclone season

Date: 
Wednesday, 31 October, 2018 - 11:15
Category: 
Industry news
Location: 
National News
Western Australia

Mining and petroleum operations across Western Australia were reminded to ensure contingency plans are established and can be activated ahead of the start of the cyclone season on 1 November.

While a fewer number of cyclones are expected hit the North West according to the Bureau of Meteorology’s Australian Tropical Cyclone Outlook for 2018 to 2019, it was still critical for sites to be prepared.

The region typically experiences five cyclones every season, and this season the Bureau has forecast a 41 per cent chance of the region experiencing more than the average.

WA Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety, deputy director general safety Ian Munns, said it only took one cyclone to impact an unprepared site for there to be a devastating impact.

“It is critical that mining and petroleum operators have adequate plans and provide appropriate training to protect workers from hazards at the workplace, including natural hazards such as cyclones,” Munns said.

The bureau’s outlook found that the Northwestern sub-region, which includes the Pilbara and Kimberley, has a 41 per cent chance of more tropical cyclones than average.

A safety alert developed by the department offers the following advice for workplaces in cyclone-sensitive regions.

  • Employers should develop emergency procedures and plans in conjunction with advice from DFES and other regional emergency planning groups where their work sites and camps are located.
  • The emergency plans should include details for making the site safe and ensuring the safety of personnel as far as is practicable. This should include the removal or restraint of loose objects and structures and evacuation of personnel. The plans must be communicated to all personnel likely to be on site during the cyclone season.
  • Every accommodation unit or donga and every transportable building on work sites in cyclone sensitive regions should be adequately secured.
  • During the Blue and Yellow Alert Cyclone Warning phase, a safe and orderly evacuation of non-essential personnel from the work site or camp should be considered before high intensity cyclones pass by.
  • To prevent injuries during transfer, any personnel remaining on site during the cyclone should be moved to a designated appropriate shelter well in advance of the arrival of the cyclone.
  • Where personnel are required to stay on site, adequate stocks of food and other essential items should be available during the period when the site may be cut off due to high winds or flooding.
  • During the Red Alert Cyclone Warning phase, when all power has to be isolated or in the eventuality of damage or interruption occurring to the power supply or telephone and internet connections, an adequate means of reliable emergency backup communication should be available on site to make contact with external emergency services should help or assistance be required.
  • Each site should continuously monitor cyclone warnings issued on radio, television or the Bureau of Meteorology or DFES websites. Battery-powered radios should be available in the event of power interruptions on site.