The Northland and Southland shopping centres will be the focus of WorkSafe Victoria’s first Safer Suburbs campaign for 2008.
Beginning 14 January, a team of safety inspectors will visit Southland and Northland to help employers resolve safety issues, WorkSafe Victoria’s general manager, Eric Windholz said.
A major WorkSafe Victoria’s project to achieve significant safety improvements within a short period, Safer Suburbs has traditionally looked at industrial areas, but it was extended to major retail centres, Chadstone and Highpoint, last year.
“Southland and Northland are self-contained suburbs with retail, entertainment, commercial kitchens, construction sites, manufacturing, warehousing and heavy transport sectors under one roof. There can also be significant public safety issues.
“Many safety improvements can be made for little or no cost. Employers and workers should discuss known and potential workplace hazards, develop and implement safety improvement plans and monitor progress.”
While deaths in retail environments were rare, Windholz said the cost of treating retail sector injuries exceeded $150 million over the past five years.
Unguarded equipment, inadequate fire suppression, dangerous storage racking, poor housekeeping and sub-standard staff amenities were often found during Safer Suburbs visits.
About 70% of all workplace injury claims in all industries come from strains, sprains, slips, trips and falls but these are particularly common hazards in the retail and hospitality industries.
Where WorkSafe Victoria needs to ensure safety improvements are made or where there is an immediate risk to injury, inspectors will issue improvement or prohibition notices.
“We’ve found many people welcome improvement notices because they identify problems and some of the ways to deal with them. In other cases a notice gives staff or managers the support needed to ensure issues not attended to in the past were resolved,” Windholz said.
Improvement notices require safety improvements within an agreed period.
Prohibition notices are issued where there is an immediate risk of an injury or to health. Once issued, a dangerous work practice must stop until the safety or health issue is resolved.
Both notices require sign-off from an inspector before the issues are considered to be resolved. Fines are not issued, however WorkSafe Victoria takes seriously any failure to comply with a notice.
There is a quick and no-cost process for objecting to, or amending, notices.
Inspectors will carry out follow-up visits to check on compliance with any notices issued.
The WorkSafe Victoria’s website has information on a wide range of safety topics.
Your Safer Suburbs checklist
- Workplace health and safety duties apply to full and part-time staff and contractors on your premises.
- Is there a process by which the employer and employees consult on health and safety matters?
- Have steps been taken to reduce the prospect of slips, trips and falls (e.g. worn carpet or lino, power cords on the floor. Is staff wearing suitable footwear? Are steps well lit and in good condition?
- Are the risks of falls from height controlled?
- Is machinery properly guarded? Are staff trained to use maintain and clean it?
- Are pedestrians separated from forklift traffic or trucks?
- Are forklift drivers properly qualified?
- Have options to prevent manual handling injuries (e.g. trolleys and other mechanical aids) been considered?
- Is the workplace (including storage and rubbish disposal areas) neat and tidy, clear of obstructions and fire hazards?
- Can the workplace be safely evacuated in an emergency?
- Are fire suppression measures adequate?
- Are chemicals appropriately used and stored? Are staff trained to use them.
- Are storage racks suitable for the items held?
- Are refreshment and toilet facilities adequate and clean?
- Have potential first aid needs been considered?
- Are you actively supporting an early and sustainable return to work for any injured workers?
- Is an If you are injured poster on display?