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Update and responses to serious burn incident

 Dont light up

Incident recap:  During May 2015, a skidworker sustained serious burns when his cigarette (or perhaps lighter) ignited fuel that had spilt from the chainsaw onto his clothing and body. We identified the root cause as ‘smoking while using petrol (or a petrol powered device)’ and that ‘fuel-spills are common’ and have led to fires on several occasions. We identified an ‘ever present risk’ when working with fuels!

Our previous Safety Bulletin advised everyone to read and follow the rules contained in the ACoP at 4.1.6 and in our contracts i.e. the sections that cover refuelling and smoking in particular!

Additionally, we asked for this incident to be ‘discussed at your next safety meeting’ – to see what ‘additional steps’ could be applied to ensure everyone stays safe!  Have you completed this request?

In response to this incident:  The Harvesting Contractor at the centre of this incident has put in place a revised hazard management plan for both its crews. Together with employees¹, it has decided the following new controls (additional steps):In both crews, workers shall not smoke when operating chainsaws and in the safe zone. In relation to crew 1, the only time/place workers can smoke is when the crew is travelling between skid sites in the van or on lunch breaks. Crew 2 is slightly different in that it now has a designated smoking area, which is 7m away from the safe zone and marked (with a sign) ‘smoking area’. While not trying to be overly prescriptive i.e. with generic rules, we do support the effort that this Contractor has taken to improve, and we encourage all others to do the same!

¹When deciding matters that involve smoking in workplaces – please refer to the Smoke-free Environments Act 1990.

View this article in Safety Bulletin 93