Don’t know, don’t dig!

A new video was launched in March to raise awareness about the hazards associated with working near underground assets, such as electricity and phone cables, gas lines and water pipes – and to encourage people to dial before they dig.

The video is a great example of business and government working together to prioritise safety in the workplace.

More than 100 incidents regarding underground assets were reported during 2015/16, and the strike rate is on the increase. Just 30 centimetres underground you can find cables, pipes and 132,000 volts of electricity. That’s enough to power up almost 10,000 homes. Striking these assets can cause explosions, floods or fires, with the potential for serious injury or even death.

And besides the personal risk, striking underground cables or pipes can affect thousands of people, including hospitals and people with lifesaving medical equipment in their homes.

Proper planning is essential when undertaking work around underground assets. In fact, it is a legislative requirement.

Sadly, our research indicates that of all the incidents that occurred in the last couple of years, 75 per cent failed to have proper plans in place.

The 4 P’s of planning

Basically, if you don’t know what’s under the ground, don’t dig!

But how do you know what’s under the ground? It’s simple. Just follow the 4 P’s of planning:
• plan
• pothole
• protect
• proceed

‘Dial Before You Dig’ is a free national service and one-stop-shop for information about underground assets on your site. They will contact the underground asset owners on your behalf and have the information back to you within two days.

Access the service by phoning 1100, by downloading the app or online at 1100.com.au.

You should also assess site conditions and ensure you have the right tools to carry out the work properly.

A non-intrusive and safe way to locate underground cables and pipes is by potholing – ie using high-pressure water or a shovel.

Safety is all about being in the know. If you don’t know, don’t dig!

To find out more, watch the video and visit our website.

SafeWork NSW Awards 2017. We all win.

Entries are now open for the 14th annual SafeWork NSW Awards. Individuals and businesses across the state are invited to enter and showcase their innovative safety systems and commitment to workplace health and safety and recovery at work.

Established in 2004, the awards were introduced to recognise and reward individuals and businesses who go the extra mile to improve safety and injury management outcomes in their workplace environment.

This year, aside from earning that all important safety tick of approval, business winners will receive a marketing package, whilst individual winners will receive the opportunity to attend specialised safety training, a safety conference or receive a safety equipment rebate.

Plus, as a winner you will be recognised as a safety leader in your industry, just like Clive Woodnutt of Bohmer’s Tree Care, a 2016 winner. This award enabled him to win new contracts and business opportunities.

If you have developed an innovative solution that reduces workplace injury or know someone that is passionate about promoting safety culture in their workplace, then now is the time to enter!

You can enter yourself, someone you know, a business, government agency or not-for-profit organisation in one of six categories.

Entries close July 21, with the winners announced at the official awards ceremony and black-tie gala dinner on October 26.

For more information, entry details or assistance with completing your entry visit safeworkawards.com.au or call 02 4321 4444.

Create a safety culture

The safest and most productive workplaces are ones where safety practices have become part of the everyday business and second nature to workers.

Such a major shift might not be possible overnight but you can help get your workers on the right track by encouraging them not just to think and talk about safety, but to also look out for hazards and each other.

And to nurture a successful safety culture, you need to reassure workers that it is okay to report a potential hazard or unsafe work practice, or share ideas about how to do the task better. As renowned US workplace safety expert, John Drebinger, points out, workers should always be praised and thanked for raising concerns.

‘That’s how you create a safety culture: to make people feel so good they’re looking for the next person to help. Pointing out hazards becomes expected when everyone does it and gets praised for it,’ he said.

So stress to your workers that by keeping an eye on co-workers’ safety, their own safety awareness will improve and if everyone does the same, then the chances of incidents could dramatically drop.

Creating a good safety culture requires you to respond quickly to unsafe work practices and demonstrates a commitment to safety. Workers need to see that reporting is encouraged with a ‘no blame’ attitude and acted upon via appropriate measures to eliminate or minimise risks.

It’s best to ask your workers what risks are involved with a job as they may have good ideas about how to do it more safely. If workers are, for example, cutting corners, this could be because they have insufficient time, working space, resources, or necessary equipment requiring maintenance.

Any safe work procedure changes should be done in consultation with workers and followed up with refresher training and tool box talks.

If you can get all of your workers singing from the same song book, then the chances of every one being able to return home to loved ones safely at the end of a working day will be greatly improved.

Visit safetystartswithyou.nsw.gov.au and start a conversation about safety today.

Embedding the safety landscape in Ryde

Not surprisingly, local government is one of the high risk industries when it comes to musculoskeletal disorders. As part of SafeWork NSW’s strategy to reduce these types of injuries, our ergonomics team is working with local councils to provide training, guidance and advice on Participative Ergonomics for Manual Tasks (PErforM).

City of Ryde Council has put this training into action, making some significant changes to keep their workers safe and healthy.

Led by their enthusiastic Work Health and Safety Coordinator, Bryan Cropley, City of Ryde Council conducted risk assessments and devised controls to address a number of high risk hazardous manual tasks. They talked with their workers, managers and relevant parties and came up with some excellent safety solutions.

The problem

One of the identified risks was lifting the compactor or ’vibe plate’ from the back of a ute. It took two people to lift and lower the 70 kg machine, six to eight times per day. The lift was awkward and dangerous for workers.

The solution

City of Ryde workers now use a12 volt electrical hoist to lift the machine. The unit is able to lift and lower the compactor between the ute and the ground without using any force or awkward postures.

Workers have embraced the change. “This job is now much easier than it used to be,” they said.

“It only needs one worker now, enabling the second worker to focus on other tasks.”

Next steps

SafeWork is continuing to provide City of Ryde with the support and assistance that they need to build their capability.

City of Ryde is doing exactly what the WHS Roadmap for NSW 2022 is talking about – embedding the health and safety landscape in NSW workplaces. By gaining safety leadership from the top and middle management, consulting and communicating with workers, they have used safety in design to create a safer workplace.

Find out what the WHS Roadmap for NSW 2022 means for you.