Safety alert issued as flood clean-up commences in Qld
Workplace Health and Safety Queensland has issued a safety alert for all Queenslanders who are preparing to clean up in or around their workplaces or homes to remember that there are serious health and safety risks following a flood. Employers and workers (including volunteers) involved in the flood recovery efforts must still remember their obligations under Queensland’s health and safety laws. By being vigilant and maintaining safety during this difficult time, employers can help reduce the risk of death, injury and illness to themselves, their workers and others involved in the clean-up and repair effort.
When planning to carry out clean-up and repair efforts, employers are advised to check that an electricity clearance has been given and to identify any likely asbestos-containing materials or dangerous chemicals. Employers should work out the order of the work to be done so that new risks are not introduced; they are also advised to consider the possibility of creating instability from removing things in the wrong order. Employers must determine what tools and equipment will be needed to do the work safely and check that the correct equipment is available and is in good working order.
Volunteers must also be informed of the potential dangers and the proper safety precautions through a group safety briefing or induction before commencing any recovery or clean-up work. Employers must ensure that the people required to operate equipment have the right skills and competencies, and that less-skilled workers are adequately supervised. Workplace Health and Safety Queensland also advises that employers should check that people allocated to perform work are not fatigued.
Workers must have the correct personal protective equipment (such as rubber-soled shoes, gloves, hats, sun-protective clothing and high-visibility vests), with appropriate first aid, clean drinking water and hand hygiene measures available. Workers must also have access to medical treatment in the event of an injury. Employers must ensure that there is access to toilet facilities and highlight any counselling services available to staff and encourage their use.
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