The first serious cyclone threat of the season has prompted WorkSafe to issue a reminder to ensure contingency plans have been swung into action and that workers in all workplaces under threat are familiar with the plans.
WorkSafe WA Commissioner Lex McCulloch said today it was crucial that everyone at sea and on land knew what to do when there was a cyclone in the area.
“With Severe Tropical Cyclone Narelle threatening the North-West this weekend, it is timely to remind employers that, under workplace safety and health laws, they must have adequate plans in place and provide adequate training to protect workers in the event of a cyclone,” Mr McCulloch said.
“The worst thing people can do is underestimate the power of a cyclone. Seven people died as a result of Cyclone Bobby in February 1995, and three more lives were lost during Cyclone George in March 2007.
“There are a huge number of workers in the North-West of the State, including workplaces with employees of several companies all working on the same site.
“Consequently, it is particularly important that emergency evacuation plans are coordinated so every worker – regardless of their employer – knows exactly what he or she needs to do in the event of a cyclone threat.”
Fishing vessels need to keep a list of sheltered anchorages and have information on how to use them, along with a specific action plan for each vessel depending on the distance from the cyclone and safe havens.
For the fishing, charter and recreational sectors, the Department of Transport has cyclone contingency plans for regional boat harbours at Point Sampson (Johns Creek), Onslow (Beadon Creek), Exmouth, Carnarvon, Coral Bay and Denham.
“Employers should not leave anything to chance when a cyclone is threatening, and everyone in the workplace – whether a fishing vessel or any other land-based workplace – should be trained in the cyclone contingency plan and follow all instructions given when a cyclone is approaching,” Mr McCulloch said.
Further information on cyclone contingency plans can be obtained by telephoning WorkSafe on 1300 307877 or on the website at www.worksafe.wa.gov.au. Information on Department of Transport plans can be obtained by telephoning the department on 9216 8876 or on the website at www.transport.wa.gov.au.