Safety, Health and Injury Management and Wellbeing

Newsletter October 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. UWA Safety Seminar on Tuesday 11th November
  3. UWA Safety Awards 2014
  4. Work Health and Safety Bill 2014 - open for public comment
  5. Chemical Corner - Hazardous and/or Dangerous Chemicals - You Need to Know
  6. Office Relocations
  7. Traffic Light System Compliance Survey (January - June 2014)
  8. Potting Mix, Soils and Mulch
  9. Laser Safety Video - For the younger audience
  10. Social and Christmas Functions
  11. Working Safely in Hot Conditions
  12. Staff Sports Fun Day registrations closing soon
  13. University Safety Committee
  14. Previous Safety and Health Newsletters

Safety Related Training 2014

Back to top

UWA Safety Seminar on Tuesday 11th November

UWA Safety Seminar on Tuesday 11th November, 9.00 am – 11.30 am in the Woolnough Lecture Theatre, Geology & Geography. Ian Munns (Director, Policy and Education, WorkSafe WA) and Michael Rafferty (Associate Director, UWA Safety, Health and Wellbeing) will be presenting on the Work Health and Safety Bill (see below) and its implications for the University.

Back to top

UWA Safety Awards 2014

The UWA Safety Awards 2014 were presented on Thursday 30th October by Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Dawn Freshwater. The awards recognise initiatives, successful implementation of processes and outstanding service for work health and safety by groups and individuals.

  • The Group Safety Award was made to the School of Animal Biology.
  • The Individual Safety Award was made to Alex Scholz (Campus Management).
  • The Safety Leadership Award was made to Geraldine Pieterse (Rural Clinical School of WA).
  • The Safety Recognition Award was made to Greg Cawthray (Plant Biology) and Lorraine Wilson (Earth and Environment).

The awards were kindly sponsored by the University Co-operative Bookshop and UniCredit. Further information on these awards will be provided in our November newsletter.

Back to top

Work Health and Safety Bill 2014 - open for public comment

On 23 October 2014, the Minister for Commerce, the Hon Michael Mischin MLC, tabled in Parliament the Work Health and Safety Bill 2014 (WHS Bill) and announced the opening of a public comment period for this draft legislation.

The WHS Bill is a Western Australian version of the model Work Health and Safety Bill (model WHS Bill) developed by Safe Work Australia for implementation by Australian states and territories. The Government has released the WHS Bill as a Green Bill for public consultation. The Green Bill is for consultation purposes and does not necessarily represent the Government's settled position. The tabling of the Green Bill should not be construed as locking in a transition from the WA OSH Act to a Western Australian version of the model WHS laws.

The WHS Bill contains the core provisions of the model WHS Bill with some modifications to suit the Western Australian working environment. But the Government has included uniform penalties in the draft Bill, despite indicating in the past that it wouldn't adopt the model Act's high maximum fines of, for example, $3 million for a body corporate convicted of reckless conduct, or up to $600,000 and up to five years imprisonment for an individual PCBU or officer similarly convicted of a category 1 offence. Workers and other non-PCBUs or officers can be fined up to $300,000 and jailed for up to five years for reckless conduct.

Western Australia, under its current OSH Act, has one of Australia's more lenient penalty regimes, with maximum fines of $500,000 for first-time corporate offenders.

Back to top

Chemical Corner - Hazardous and/or Dangerous Chemicals - You Need to Know

If you have chemicals in your area, you need to know enough about them to store and use them safely. First of all you should consider why you have the chemicals. Do you use them? Were any left behind by someone else?

If you don’t need them, then you should dispose of them appropriately. For chemicals that you use consult the M/SDS to establish if it is hazardous and/or dangerous. Dangerous goods need to be appropriately stored and maintained. A list of chemicals is only a starting point.

Consider the following items:

  • Osmic acid
  • Nitric Acid
  • Acetic Acid
  • Picric Acid
  • Formic Acid

Although these are all acids one is also a flammable solid when wet but an explosive when dry. Another is extremely toxic. None of these items should be stored together and three need to be strictly regulated. If you have chemicals keep only what you need and make sure you know them well enough to keep safe!
Please see the alert in the July Newsletter and the Picric Acid hazard alert:

Back to top

Office Relocations

There are many office relocations occurring across the campus. Please see the following procedures and responsibility chart:

Back to top

Traffic Light System Compliance Survey (January - June 2014)

The Traffic Light System health and safety survey for the period January to June 2014 has been published. There were submissions from 52 areas of the University. The self-assessment methodology of the Traffic Light System appears to be stimulating the development of local strategies for future improvement. Analysis of results indicates a general improvement in compliance. Chronological scores for overall compliance of the whole University have been 67% (H2 2012), 77% (H1 2013), 86% (H2 2013) and the latest score of 91%. The colour chart of collated responses and the accompanying reporting summary are available at (Pheme log-in is required)

Local health and safety committees are proven as an effective means for planning, coordinating and monitoring the progress of locally developed improvement strategies. Following the restructuring of the University in early 2014, it is an appropriate time to consider how work places may be most effectively represented. Senior managers (Officers) should strongly encourage the efficient communication, consultation and flow of information which an active committee can provide. This helps to meet their own due diligence requirements in accordance with existing and future work health and safety legislation and will also stimulate better workplace safety cultures. UWA Safety Health and Wellbeing are available to meet with Officers, senior managers and others to provide guidance and assistance as required.

The Traffic Light System information and procedure is available for reference at  Further information on health and safety committees is available at .

Back to top

Potting Mix, Soils and Mulch

Legionella longbeachae, which has been related to several deaths, is commonly found in gardening soils, potting mix and mulches in Western Australia. To prevent Legionella infection from potting mix and other compost materials, people should take precautionary steps such as:

  • opening potting mix bags with care to avoid inhaling airborne potting mix;
  • moistening the contents of the bag on opening by making a small opening and inserting a garden hose to dampen the potting mix;
  • avoiding potting plants in unventilated areas, such as enclosed greenhouses;
  • wearing gloves;
  • avoiding transferring potting mix from hand to mouth, eg rubbing face with a soiled hand;
  • wearing a face mask;
  • always washing hands after handling potting mix, even if gloves have been worn, as Legionella
  • bacteria can remain on hands contaminated by potting mix for up to one hour;
  • storing potting mix in a cool place, away from the sun;
  • keeping soils and potting mix damp;
  • avoiding raising soil near evaporative coolers;
  • watering gardens and composts gently, using a low pressure hose; and,
  • when handling bulk quantities of potting mixes or other soil products, using procedures that minimize dust generation.

The same precautions should be taken when handling soil, peat, mulch and garden composts. Face masks should be either P1 or P2 particulate masks, as specified in Australian Standard, AS 1715. Selection, use and maintenance of respiratory protective equipment, or Australian Standard, AS 1716 Respiratory protective devices.

Experts in the field are concerned about part bags being stored till next season and the potential for increased proliferation of Legionella longbeachae. It is therefore recommended that all contents of opened bags are used or disposed of following opening.

For more information please see the Code of Practice – ‘Prevention and control of Legionnaires’ disease’.

Back to top

Laser Safety Video - For the younger audience

"Dumb Ways to Blind" is a video in the style of "Dumb Ways to Die", a November 2012 safety video from Metro Trains in Melbourne. “Dumb Ways to Blind" shows cute animated characters that misuse lasers in various ways. They suffer fates such as being scarred, getting jailed, and losing an eye, while a catchy song narrates each scene. The intent is to get a safety message to a younger, internet-savvy generation raised on irony.

Back to top

Social and Christmas Functions

Work related social events can be particularly enjoyable and are a way of developing better working relationships. Don't allow this possibility to be spoiled. By being aware of, and being prepared for the potential unintended consequences, many of the risks associated with these events can be reduced or removed. For further information see:

Back to top

Working Safely in Hot Conditions

The WorkSafe WA bulletin ‘Working Safely in Hot Conditions’ provides practical advice on heat illness, related health and safety problems and actions and measures to take to prevent or minimise the likelihood of heat illness. Further information on heat stress is also available.

Back to top

Staff Sports Fun Day registrations closing soon

A reminder that the annual Staff Sports Fun Day is coming up on the afternoon of Friday, November 7. This is always a great day, and a good opportunity to get to know your colleagues in a fun environment that brings together staff from across the whole University. Register online at  by 5pm on Friday October 31.

Back to top

University Safety Committee

The University Safety Committee last met on Tuesday the 14th October 2014. The next meeting is on Tuesday 9th December 2014. Approved minutes from previous meetings are available from the Safety, Health and Wellbeing website.

Back to top

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: . All are encouraged to distribute relevant safety information in your workplaces.

Back to top