Far too often in the workplace, tasks are performed without due care to occupational health and safety being thought out and exercised prior to commencement of the task. Job Hazard Analyses (JHA’s) are one tool to assist OHS that can be found for most tasks and roles, but they are only a small function of being ready to commence work.
Working in confined spaces
Any task that involves confined space entry or working at heights should also have a recovery plan in place should a negative outcome occur PRIOR TO ANY WORK BEING UNDERTAKEN. Without an adequate recovery plan for confined spaces, people working in, or assisting people working in a confined space, can be potentially be put at risk.
Working at heights
While Fall Arrest Systems are a huge boon to safety when working at heights, workers and OHS officers should be aware of the risks associated with their use. After five minutes left suspended in a Fall Arrest System (FAS), life threatening damage begins to occur to the individual stuck in the FAS. When they are rescued from the FAS, toxins my have built up in their bodies so when the harness is released, these toxins spread throughout the body rapidly and can be fatal. Therefore systems need to be in place to rescue anyone suspended in less than five minutes, and extra care must be taken with workers who have been caught out for longer.
People working from heights or tasked with ensuring the safety of those working at heights must REMEMBER THE TIME LIMIT. FIVE MINUTES IS ALL IT TAKES TO POTENTIALLY KILL A WORKER.
As a safety officer, or even just a forward thinking and conscientious worker, you should inspect your own workplace for OH&S risks or issues. Find out what recovery plans are in place after an incident has occurred and identify which components of a complete safety plan are missing. To have complete JHA documentation for your workplace, these recovery plans need to be developed and taught to employs – or else you have not addressed the complete range of hazards that should be encompassed in a JHA.
For example, an audit conducted on a work site where the lead mechanic regularly entered and cleaned diesel tanks, found that the following safety procedures were not in place:
1) Entry to this confined space occurred alone with no supervision
2) No breathing apparatus was utilised
3) No notification of entry was publicised to make others aware of a potential situation
4) No JHA was completed prior to entry
5) No training had been undertaken even though the materials given MSDS applied
6) There were no policies, procedures, and or systems in place for this task
7) No Permit To Work (PTW) existed
8) A total lack of any PPE for the task
This is just the tip of the iceberg for issues that were uncovered!
Don’t wait until it’s too late
Alterations to systems should not be done after an incident has occurred. Safety professionals need to be proactive in keeping others safe!
Look, Think, and then Act to be proactive and fulfill your duties under the Duty of Care section of the Acts and Regulations.
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