Safety, Health and Wellbeing

Newsletter September 2014

Our role is to develop and assist in the implementation of the UWA safety, health and wellbeing programs in order to minimise the risk of injury, illness and property damage.

We provide consultancy and other services to promote best practice and legislative compliance in all University and related activities.

Further Information

  • UWA Smoke Free
  • Become a first aid officer
  1. Safety Related Training 2014
  2. Move towards better mental health
  3. Bushfires: Time to Prepare
  4. Bushfire Monitoring
  5. New template: Health and Safety Fieldwork Register
  6. Marine Research Diver Training
  7. Protect yourself against UV Radiation
  8. Chemical Corner - Phosphoric and Hydrofluoric Acids
  9. University Safety Committee
  10. Previous Safety and Health Newsletters

Safety Related Training 2014

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Move towards better mental health

Mental Health Week 2014 is coming up from October 5-11, and is a good opportunity to take some time out to consider what you can do to maximise your mental health. A number of free activities and lunchtime seminars are available to staff and students during the week, and this year we’re also asking members of the campus community and to make a personal pledge of action toward improved wellbeing. Get involved! Find out more at www.safety.uwa.edu.au/health-wellbeing/well-being/whats-on-offer/mental-health

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Bushfires: Time to Prepare

Typically Western Australia’s (WA) bushfire season in the south west starts in November and continues through to April. While in the Kimberley the season runs from June through to late October. As climate and seasonal conditions change, bushfires in WA are becoming more common and the risks are increasing. The devastating impact a bushfire has on a community has a lasting affect and can take years to recover from. Even if you live or work in a metropolitan area near bushland, then bushfire is a real threat.

The Department of Fire & Emergency Services (DFES) has essential information and advice to assist you to Prepare, Act and Survive at this webpage: http://www.dfes.wa.gov.au/safetyinformation/fire/bushfire/Pages/default.aspx  Now is a good time to prepare including clearing gutters, over hanging trees, bush and flammable material close to property. Contact UWA Campus Management if you require assistance on UWA sites.

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Bushfire Monitoring

Travel advice includes:

  • Stay up-to-date with the bushfire situation by listening to your local radio station and by monitoring the fire and emergency services websites
  • Ensure you are aware of the emergency procedures in place in higher risk areas. Personnel should adhere to any instructions issued by the authorities
  • Those in higher risk areas should consider preparing a ‘grab bag' containing items such as a portable radio, high-energy food, photocopies of essential documents, maps of the area and a small amount of cash
  • If your life is at risk, call Triple Zero (000) immediately
  • Bushfires could cause network outages, which would affect emergency alerts sent to both landlines and mobiles. In this event, monitor the radio, television and internet for bushfire alerts
  • Roads in the vicinity of bushfires may be closed without warning

The following sites should be monitored where there is a risk of bushfire:

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New template: Health and Safety Fieldwork Register

A new template designed to help keep track of fieldwork trip essential information is now available at www.safety.uwa.edu.au/topics/off-campus/field-work-remote , the ‘Fieldwork in rural and remote areas’ webpage. The approval process for proposed fieldwork is completed when the Head of School/Unit grants permission to proceed by endorsing the fieldwork plan. Following each approval, the planned work should be recorded using the new template. In addition to providing easy access to this centralised information source, this process greatly assists demonstration of due diligence by senior managers in creating a method through which they can readily oversee and review all planned, ongoing and past fieldwork.

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Marine Research Diver Training

Congratulations to the six members of the UWA Academic and Professional Staff who completed the first Marine Research Diver SSBA Scientific Diver Training in Australia in August. The qualification developed by Orca Training http://orcatraining.com.au/marine-research-diver/  had a great deal of input by UWA’s Diving and Boating Safety Officer, Warren (Starry) Starr, as well as by other industry specialists. This qualification is designed to meet the Australian Standard 2299.2 as an occupational diver for scientific diving. Starry was both an instructor and trainer on the course.

This nationally recognized training course, producing both diving and VOC qualifications, is recognised by Government departments such as Department of Parks and Wildlife and other Universities, such as Edith Cowan University and James Cook University. This cost effective and targeted training, places UWA Scientific divers ready for the new harmonised laws and will help our teams in upcoming collaborative research. Participant’s positive comments include “the excellent experience of new techniques and SSBA equipment” and “providing a structure that promotes safety for our teams”. Starry can be contacted for further information on 6488 5800 or Warren.starr@uwa.edu.au

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Protect yourself against UV Radiation

Although it's not technically summer yet, it's certainly time to be thinking about protecting yourself from harmful UV radiation (UVR), particularly if you spent a good portion of your day outdoors. It’s important to be aware that reflective surfaces can also create significant levels of UVR, so workers on roofs, near water or next to a glass window in a vehicle for example should be vigilant.

Did you know you can use the daily UV alert tool to work out when you need to use sun protection? Published each day in the weather section of the newspaper, or on the Bureau of Meteorology site, the alert tells you when the UV index will reach 3 or above, which is when you need to be SunSmart. You can also download a SunSmart UV Alert app to your phone for an easy way to check while you're on the go. Check our UWA web page for more detail about skin protection
Bureau of Meteorology: http://www.bom.gov.au/wa/uv/perth.shtml  
SunSmart UV Alert app: http://www.bom.gov.au/uv/iphoneapp.shtml  
More information: http://www.safety.uwa.edu.au/health-wellbeing/physical/protective-equipment/skin

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Chemical Corner - Phosphoric and Hydrofluoric Acids

It’s important to know what is in your work environment. An annual audit of chemicals and reagents is a legal obligation that can uncover hazards. One of our campus workshops recently discovered that one of their unused aluminium and stainless steel cleaning agents contains phosphoric and hydrofluoric acids.

Concentrated phosphoric acid is a dangerous goods class 8 (Corrosive) and must be handled with due care and proper controls. Concentrated hydrofluoric acid (HF) is the most corrosive acid known. The corrosive effects may not be immediately apparent as lower concentrations of HF rapidly penetrate human tissues leaving skin and nails intact. Over time, the corrosive damage to internal tissues becomes evident. HF will scavenge calcium and magnesium from the human body, without sufficient calcium and magnesium the heart, muscles and nervous system cease to function and death ensues.

Do you really need to use this product? Can you substitute one without HF? Can you use a more dilute form? If you must use it then review control procedures. Don’t work with HF alone or afterhours. Check that emergency showers are immediately accessible and that you have in-date calcium gluconate gel available. Review the MSDS and the risk assessment prior to using HF.

If you discover a product containing HF in your work area leave it undisturbed and contact Safety Health and Wellbeing. We will arrange a supply of calcium gluconate and then safe disposal of this product. Worksafe WA – Working with hydrofluoric acid: http://www.commerce.wa.gov.au/publications/working-hydrofluoric-acid

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University Safety Committee

The University Safety Committee last met on Tuesday the 12th August 2014. The next meeting is on Tuesday 14th October 2014. Approved minutes from previous meetings are available from the Safety, Health and Wellbeing website. http://www.safety.uwa.edu.au/people/committees/safety

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Previous Safety and Health Newsletters

For those who have missed out on our earlier editions, copies of previous newsletters can be obtained from the following web site: http://www.safety.uwa.edu.au/newsletter . All are encouraged to distribute relevant safety information in your workplaces.

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