National strategy improves winery safety

Wednesday, 20 September, 2006

A campaign born of cooperation between five Australian states has improved the health and safety of workers at Australia's wine manufacturers.

Problems such as falls from height, electricity, training and machine guarding have been under the spotlight since the initiative began in early 2005. The states involved are Western Australia, Queensland, Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales.

The National Targeted Auditing Strategy for Wine Producers has seen WorkSafe inspectors from the Manufacturing Team and the Regional and Primary Industries Team conducting safety inspections of wineries.

The campaign was developed in response to a perceived lack of systematic occupational safety and health management in the wine industry.

Australia's regulatory agencies cooperated to work towards national consistency in winery safety. "We used a common checklist that every state agreed to use before inspections commenced. Our inspections were able to pinpoint common areas of concern," WorkSafe WA senior inspector, Tony Robertson said.

"In Western Australia, we inspected 30 wineries and issued 287 notices for breaches of the Act and Regulations, which covered 20% of wineries in WA."

The inspections found inappropriate systems of work for confined spaces and a lack of edge protection or fall arrest systems for the tops of wine tanks, which can be up to nine metres high.

The safety of wineries inspected has improved, with WorkSafe WA reporting a high level of compliance with notices issued. WorkSafe is also working towards presentations to inform industry of the outcome of the project.

Robertson is urging wineries that have not been visited to obtain a copy of the checklist used in the strategy and use it to do a safety audit of their workplace.

20/9/06

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