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West Warrnambool safer after WorkSafe campaign

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West Warrnambool businesses have proved themselves safe, but last week’s Safe Towns campaign found two people working in such a way that they could have died or spent the rest of their days in a wheelchair.

Fewer than 50 improvement notices and two prohibition notices were issued to 106 businesses, one of the low since the program began at Swan Hill in 2004.

WorkSafe ’s Executive Director, John Merritt, said while West Warrnambool was doing well, he was concerned that two prohibition notices were issued for working at a dangerous height.

One prohibition notice related to someone working 5.5m above the ground without fall protection the other involved work while standing on the forks of a telescopic all terrain truck at approximately 4.7m.

“These are heights from which death, brain damage or paraplegia are real, instant, and permanent possibilities.

Fall protection is needed when working higher than two metres.

Five improvement notices were issued for each of machine guarding, forklifts and mobile plant, housekeeping and amenities and hazardous systems of work.

Three notices were issued for electrical issues and another three concerning first aid facilities.

“The inspectors found many places where fresh safety work had been done. By letting businesses know we were coming, improvements were made across the community, not just the places visited.”

Merritt said businesses which received a notice should use the time before the return-date for the WorkSafe follow-up visit to make the required improvements.

“There’s no room for a ‘she’ll be right’ attitude. WorkSafe deals with many cases where this approach ends in disaster.

“In most cases safety improvements can be made at little or no cost. Machine guards have often been removed for cleaning or maintenance and not re-installed.”

“Review your situation, don’t ignore known hazards or take shortcuts. Make sure machines have the right guarding, replace faulty power cords, remove slipping hazards and properly store chemicals.”

The Safe Towns project moves to Colac next week.

Improvement notices are a formal direction to make a safety improvement within an agreed period. Prohibition notices are issued when there is an immediate risk to health and safety. Receiving a prohibition notice means a machine or work practice must cease.

Both notices require sign-off from a WorkSafe inspector before they are lifted and that is generally the end of the matter. Breaching notices often results in prosecution.

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