As a cyclone approaches Western Australia’s North-West coast, WorkSafe Western Australia (WorkSafe WA) is urging businesses to ensure that they have established contingency plans, with everyone on land and sea aware of what to do when the cyclone makes landfall. Workplace health and safety laws state that employers must have adequate plans in place and provide adequate training to protect workers in the event of a cyclone.
“The Bureau of Meteorology has forecast a slightly lower than average number of tropical cyclones in the waters off the North-West coast this season. The average number of cyclones that approach the WA coast each year is 10 to 13, but it only takes one to cause significant damage and suffering, as demonstrated by the tragic circumstances surrounding Cyclone George in 2007,” said Chris Kirwin, WorkSafe WA Director.
As cyclone season approaches, it is crucial for workplaces to have a plan in place in the event of a cyclone threat, particularly on sites with employees of several companies where coordinated plans are needed to ensure employee safety. For example, fishing vessels need a list of sheltered anchorages with information on how to use them, along with a specific plan for each vessel depending on the distance from the cyclone and safe havens. The Department of Transport has developed cyclone contingency plans for the fishing, charter and recreational sectors, for regional boat harbours at Point Samson (Johns Creek), Onslow (Beadon Creek), Exmouth, Carnarvon, Coral Bay and Denham.
“Employers should not leave anything to chance when a cyclone is threatening, and must make sure safe work practices are in place well before a cyclone is in their vicinity. Whether the workplace is a fishing vessel or in a land-based location, everyone should be trained in the cyclone contingency plan and follow all instructions given when a cyclone is approaching,” Kirwin said.
More information about cyclone contingency plans can be obtained by contacting WorkSafe WA on 1300 307 877, while Department of Transport plans can be obtained by telephoning 131 156.
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