The rain and wind may be gone, but many of us are still cleaning up after the huge storms that thrashed eastern NSW last week. If you work in clearing fallen or broken trees, you may have a busy few weeks ahead. Here are some reminders on how to keep yourself, and your workers, safe.
Determine the safest way to tackle the job
When you get to a new job, work out whether it is safer to work from ground level, to climb the tree, or to work from an elevated platform. If the weather or anything else changes, check the method you are using is still the safest one.
Inspect the tree
Check its condition before you start. In addition to any storm damage, look for signs of pest infestation, decay, dead wood and bark inclusions. A lack of foliage, soil movement, cracking at the base or a leaning tree could mean it has weakened or shifted roots and is unstable.
Inspect the site and your equipment
Check for hazards such as uneven ground, electrical lines, underground services, bad weather, nearby traffic, and people. Also check in on your own energy and alertness levels – fatigue and dehydration can be hazards too.
Inspect your machinery and climbing equipment before every use. If you are using wood chippers or stump grinders, it is particularly important that the emergency stops are working and workers are trained on how to use them. Make sure you mark exclusion and drop zones, that no one enters them, and that ground workers have an escape route.
Conduct a toolbox talk
All workers need to know what approach you will be using for the job and their role.
Train, equip and prepare your workers
Staff should always have the right protective gear, be fit for work, and not affected by drugs or alcohol.
Each year more than 150 people are seriously injured while doing tree work because of things like falls, working around power lines, working with equipment or being struck by falling objects.
By following the steps above, those helping our community clean up after the storms can plan to avoid injury and get home safe.
- Target workers’ eating habits, especially if lunchtime fare is fast food high in saturated fats such as burger and fries. Install a larger fridge and an extra microwave so more staff can bring in meals from home to reheat – also saving them money.
- Offer more flexible working hours so workers go for walks, runs or swims, or attend a gym at lunchtime. Speak to a local fitness club about offering discount memberships for your workers.
- Print out simple exercise guides to place around the workplace.
- Establish a ‘break-out’ room where workers can make personal phone calls or have some quiet time.
- Help workers to quit smoking.
- Establish a workplace zero injuries target and promote this over one month, progressing to three then six months.
- Get a workers compensation policy if you need one.
- Talk about safety and get input from your workers.
- Make sure everyone is properly trained and understands how to do their work safely.
- Establish safe working procedures.
- Provide adequate workplace facilities.
- Use personal protective equipment if no other controls are available.
- Record any workplace injuries in a register.
- Notify us of serious incidents.
- Have a recover at work program
- If in doubt, ask for help – give us a call on 13 10 50.
Store and handle chemicals properly at all times.
Often the risk has never occurred to them because it’s how they’ve always done it or been told how to do it. And unfortunately it’s often only when an accident does occur that the penny drops.
SafeWork Assistant State Inspector
- Make sure chemicals delivered to your workplace are clearly labelled.
- Make sure workers understand safety data sheet and labels.
- Make a list of all your hazardous chemicals – and always keep it up to date.
- Isolate hazardous chemicals from the rest of the workplace, restrict access to dangerous areas, and use exhaust ventilation for fumes.
- Develop an emergency plan and provide appropriate personal protective equipment.
The workers compensation process can be complex – and this complexity is amplified when you have limited claims management experience, resources and cash flow.
For most small businesses, a workers compensation claim may only occur once every several years. Many employers pay their annual premium and have no further contact or relationship with their insurer.
A challenge for small businesses is the number of stakeholders involved with the workers compensation process, and the various relationships that exist between these stakeholders.
This seminar features three panel members representing the employer, insurer and regulator. They discuss the role of each in the workers compensation process, the supports available for business – eg vocation rehabilitation and work trials – and the recovery at work programs run by the State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA).
SIRA has also developed a tool that helps injured workers understand their weekly payments and entitlements at different stages of their claim.
- providing an air-conditioned area for frequent rest breaks
- providing air-conditioning and window tinting in work vehicles
- providing mechanical aids to reduce the need for strenuous physical work
- supplying lots of cool drinking water and encouraging workers to drink frequently.
- providing shade and shelter for outdoor workers
- rotating tasks, to reduce exposure to UV radiation and extreme heat
- scheduling work to cooler times of the day
- using the SunSmart app to identify sun protection times for outdoor work
- providing information, instruction, training and supervision
- providing personal protective equipment, eg: for outdoor workers – SPF 30+ sunscreen, SPF 50+ clothing, long-sleeve shirts, broad-brimmed hats and the like.