This safety alert reminds business owners, managers and workers about the dangers involved in undertaking work outside of their qualifications and experience.
SafeWork NSW has investigated a range of incidents where workers were seriously injured or killed while attempting tasks new to them. The workers were either not trained to do the task, did not have the correct equipment and/or had not been authorised by their manager to attempt the work.
In one incident a truck had become bogged while delivering a container to a rural property. A second truck was sent by the trucking business to attempt to tow out the bogged truck. During the recovery attempt, the under-rated chain snapped, flinging back and striking the driver in the face and eye.
While being experienced heavy vehicle drivers, neither driver was properly trained in heavy vehicle recovery procedures. The trucking company had an arrangement with a heavy vehicle recovery business but the manager and workers decided to attempt the recovery themselves this time.
In another incident, two plant operators were asked to provide assistance to a plumbing contractor who was removing rusty corrugated iron sheets from an industrial roof. The plant operators had not been trained to do this task, did not receive instruction about what the job involved and had no means of fall prevention.
One of the plant operators fell through a hole in the roof, striking a truck that was parked in the garage below. He suffered a broken wrist, which required time off work and unnecessary pain.
Both of these injuries could have been fatal.
Before a business requires its workers to attempt any tasks that are new or different, first consider: will it be safer if the work is performed by an expert contractor?
If the tasks are to be performed by your workers, then ask:
- are activities within the capability and experience of the workers?
- does the work involve serious work health and safety risks arising from the work environment or the nature of the work, if so how will those risks be eliminated or reduced to the lowest level possible?
- what level of supervision and resources will be required to safely perform the work?
New or different work should not proceed unless the workers are capable of safely performing the tasks, risks have been reduced to the lowest level possible and appropriate levels of supervision are in place. And remember every worker has the right to say no to unsafe work.
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