Safety issues for employers, workers and helpers in flood-hit areas

WorkSafe has urged people in areas hit by floods in northern Victoria to carefully plan recovery work to reduce the chance of injury.
News article published

Tuesday 20 Mar 2012

“Our expectation will be that employers and workers will follow all appropriate procedures in line with workplace health and safety laws, while members of the public doing their own cleanup also need to take care,” WorkSafe’s Executive Director for Health and Safety, Ian Forsyth, said.

“Many people will be keen to get their clean-up and repairs underway, but they need to understand and prepare for hazards and safety issues to prevent injuries.

“Plan and coordinate the work to be done and think about what will be needed. It’s important to look after yourself and your workmates – they will often be family members and friends.”

Maximise safety – top tips to help prevent flood cleanup injuries:

  • Electrical services may have been affected by floodwaters. Ensure domestic or farm electrical systems are checked before use as should any tools or appliances that have been wet;
  • Boots are an important protective measure to protect again timber and metal debris.
  • Gloves will protect your hands;
  • If moving large heavy and awkward-sized items, particularly if they’re waterlogged, use some form of lifting equipment if available or get some help;
  • Ensure children are well supervised and away from areas where work is going on;
  • Ensure all equipment is in good condition, fit for purpose and that appropriate guards are in place;
  • Clear debris from areas where vehicles are operating, implement traffic management plans and beware of potential washouts hidden by standing water;
  • In some cases trees and structures may have been de-stabilised by water;
  • Ensure workers have access to water and food and schedule regular rest breaks to reduce fatigue.

“Getting on top of these issues will mean the work will be able to be done as safely as possible and that those who have been affected by the floods will be able to return to their lives without the aggravation of an injury,” Mr Forsyth said.  

“We might not be able to control what has happened, but we can prevent matters that would make the situation worse.”