WA safety inspection campaign reveals problems

Monday, 30 November, 2009

Eleven WorkSafe inspectors conducted 91 inspections in the Wangara industrial area in Western Australia over a two-week period in October.

WorkSafe Director of Manufacturing, Transport and Services Industries Joe Attard said the campaign found reasonable safety standards, but areas of concern that were serious in nature: “This inspection campaign was significant, in that it was the first metropolitan campaign to concentrate on a geographical region rather than a specific industry or activity.

“It targeted manufacturers of food, beverages and tobacco, wood and paper products, non-metallic mineral products, metal products, equipment manufacturing and other types of manufacturing.

“Inspectors visited a large number of workplaces and, although they were well received, enforcement action was required to ensure employers were complying with workplace safety laws.

“Inspectors issued a total of 261 improvement notices, four prohibition notices and 49 verbal directions in the course of the inspections.

“The major areas of concern were machine guarding, hazardous substances, forklift safety, electrical safety and edge protection on mezzanine levels, none of which are minor issues. There were also concerns about the number of workplaces issued notices for not having safe systems of work in place for the isolation and lockout and tagging of machinery and plant during cleaning and maintenance activities.

“Forklift safety and the safe movement of mobile plant continue to be among the significant issues in manufacturing workplaces and safe systems of work also need to be in place around these activities. Falls from higher levels within workplaces are readily preventable and it need not be difficult or costly to ensure that suitable edge protection is organised before a tragedy can occur. Electrical safety is always a serious concern and some employers had to be reminded of the requirement for portable RCDs if employees work off site.

“It’s important that employers and employees in manufacturing are aware of the chemicals and other hazardous substances in their workplaces; and they need to have access to information detailing the health effects in the event of exposure.

“Like all our proactive campaigns, the aim is to identify risks to the safety and health of workers in the industry and to provide employers with information on how to comply with workplace safety laws, though inspectors will take enforcement action if they find breaches of the laws.”

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