08:36 pm, Tuesday 28 September, 2010
The Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) has entered into an enforceable undertaking with WorkSafe Victoria after a tank explosion seriously injured a worker last year.
In April 2009, a 31 year-old DSE worker was told to weld a leak in a 400-litre fuel tank at an Alexandra depot.
“The unsupervised worker was told the tank needed to be ready by the following day – he wasn’t told that he would need to clean the tank or remove any fuel,” said Executive Director for Health and Safety Ian Forsyth.
“When he began to weld the tank, it exploded. He suffered second degree and superficial burns to around 8% of his body, as well as other injuries from the force of the blast.”
The enforceable undertaking requires DSE to create a senior full-time health and safety position to work across its regional depots.
It also entails DSE to invest $120,000 in a safety leadership program. Half of the amount will be allocated to dangerous goods training, while the other half is allotted for training of managers and supervisors in health and safety.
DSE will also spend $10,000 for advertising an alert on the dangers of welding fuel drums. The ads will run in regional papers around the state.
“As this situation clearly shows, welding or cutting a container which contains traces of flammable substances can be extremely dangerous,” Mr Forsyth said.
He said it was not communicated to the worker how to carry out the work safely, nor was he informed of the risks associated with the work.
“Even if there’s a suspicion of flammable substances, hazard identification and cleaning procedures need to be carried out by someone who is trained to do this kind of work,” he said.
Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004, an enforceable undertaking is provided as an alternative to prosecution. It is a legal agreement requiring an organisation to carry out acts that improving health and safety for employees, which will benefit the wider community.
Since the passage of the Act in 2004, WorkSafe has entered into 13 enforceable undertakings. Two of these were with government departments.
DSE’s progress will be monitored by WorkSafe to ensure the undertaking is being met.
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