Wet weather forecast prompts warning for workplaces

WorkSafe is warning employers about the risks associated with working in the wet as the state braces for three days of downpour.


Heavy rainfall that may lead to flash flooding is expected in parts of Victoria over the next three days.

The Bureau of Meteorology expects gusty northerlies and large rainfalls, particularly in North Central, Northern Country and Northeast districts on Wednesday and Thursday.

Construction sites are of particular concern, especially when it comes to the risk of falls, slips and trips.

Ladders, stairs and elevated work platforms can all become more dangerous in the rain. WorkSafe accepted 5531 injury claims involving falls, slips and trips last year.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Narelle Beer urges employers to put a pause on outdoor work during heavy rain and storms.

"Avoiding exposure to bad weather is the best way to protect yourself and your workers," Dr Beer said.

Builders and contractors are also urged to secure their sites before wet and stormy weather hits. All loose items should be safely tied down or placed indoors.

"Temporary fencing, construction tools and scaffold planks can cause serious harm to workers and the public if they become airborne in wild weather," Dr Beer said.

"It goes without saying, but water and electricity are a lethal combination. Powered tools must be stored away in a dry place before the rain hits."

Farmers should also be wary of the dangers that come with wet weather, and are advised to inspect their property before recommencing work.

"Rain can change the texture and consistency of soil, making it easier for farm vehicles to get stuck in muddy ground," Dr Beer said.

When recovering bogged down equipment, machinery or animals, workers are encouraged to seek assistance or have access to a phone or radio.

Other measures such as wearing warm, protective clothing and marking soft ground or open water areas with flags or barriers are essential when it comes to preventing injury and death.

"Regularly checking weather conditions and rescheduling major outdoor projects for milder days is a sure way employers can help keep their workplaces safe," Dr Beer said.

Employers can help manage wet weather hazards by:

  • Inspecting the work site to ensure ground stability has not been compromised and foundations are secure.
  • Spreading crushed rock on walkways, over mud and placing boot scrapers at access points.
  • Ensuring plant operators are aware of the risk posed by waterlogged ground before they begin work.
  • Ensuring electrical equipment that has potentially been affected by water is taken out of service until inspected, tested and made safe.
  • Identifying soft ground and marking it with flags, bollards or other indicators as a warning to workers.
  • Seeking assistance when recovering bogged equipment or animals.
  • Avoiding employees working alone and ensuring they have access to a means of communication, either a phone or radio.