In the aftermath of the Victorian Bushfires, WorkSafe is concerned for the ongoing safety of emergency personnel, essential services workers, contractors and members of the public who may be working in the fire affected regions.
The following ‘Bushfire Recovery’ documents provide advice for handling hazards that you may encounter when searching though or cleaning up fire affected areas.
Potential hazards include asbestos-containing material, damaged gas cylinders and their valves, pesticides and other chemicals, nails and sharp objects.
There are also dangers associated with damaged buildings that may be unstable; trees that are at risk of falling or dropping limbs and a range of issues involving routine hazards on building or demolition sites.
For employers and workers, the standard requirements of Victoria's workplace health and safety laws apply on work sites in bushfire-affected areas.
Make sure people have appropriate training on the equipment they'll be using; that they have access to breaks, food and water, and ensure people not involved in the work (including children) can't access the site and ensure your workforce is using protective clothing.
Look after yourself and your workmates, and the chances of injury or further tragedy will be minimised.
- Fact Sheet 1: Using hired equipment or machinery
- Fact Sheet 2: Exposure to asbestos from bushfire affected areas
- Fact Sheet 3: Bush fire hazards
- Fact Sheet 4: Re-fencing properties after bushfire
- WorkSafe injury insurance premium and the bushfires
- Fact Sheet 6: Recycling of materials from bushfire damaged properties
- DHS advice: Asbestos in the home
- Health & Safety Solution: 'mini-loaders overturning'
- Building Commission: A guide to a safe return to your property
Update:Dangerous goods order relating to removal of asbestos from bushfire-affected properties
On 16th February 2009 a Governor in Council Dangerous Goods Order (DGO) was made to apply to workplaces where asbestos is being removed from the February 2009 bushfire-affected areas. The DGO is in place for a 6 month period.
It should be noted that the DGO only applies to an asbestos-contaminated area that becomes a workplace. It does not apply to homeowners carrying out their own asbestos removal. However, homeowners carrying out their own clean up are encouraged to follow the same advice in the DGO about how to remove the asbestos safely.
In summary, the DGO:
1. Applies to asbestos removal from a site that is a workplace and that has been affected by the February 2009 bushfires.
2. Requires that asbestos removal be carried out by a:
- (non-specific) Class A or Class B licence holder or by an employee of a licence-holder; or
- a person holding an equivalent asbestos removal licence issued by another state jurisdiction; or
- by a person who is assisting the licence holder and is supervised by the licence holder or employee.
3. Requires that persons carrying out removal must:
- carry out asbestos removal (including the collection and disposal of waste) in a manner that prevents the release of airborne asbestos fibres, so far as is reasonably practicable;
- use appropriately placed signs and barricades to indicate the area where asbestos removal is being performed;
- prevent water-runoff of asbestos-contaminated water so far as is reasonably practicable;
- wear appropriate protective clothing and equipment, such as Australian Standard approved respiratory protection and disposable coveralls;
- be instructed on safe work methods and procedures;
- use decontamination facilities for the decontamination of equipment, tools, clothing and for personal decontamination;
4. A visual inspection must be carried out on completion of the asbestos removal to ensure that there is no visible asbestos residue remaining as a result of the removal work.
This fire season all Victorians will be at risk.
- Clean up around your home and property
- Make a fire plan
- Learn how to protect yourself and your family
- Be fire ready
For more information see cfa.vic.gov.au or call 1800 240 667.