A committed, systematic approach to OH&S benefits both AQIS employees and the organisation. Workplace related injury and illness affect not only employees, but also their families and work colleagues.
AQIS is committed to improving OH&S management systems to reduce the risk of incidence of injury and illness of AQIS employees.
Related legislation and Related Information
The Occupational Health and Safety Act 1991 (the Act) is the principal legislation for the Commonwealth.
The objectives of the legislation are to:
- secure the health, safety and welfare of persons at work
- protect people at or near workplaces from risk to health and safety arising out of the activities of employees at work
- ensure that expert advice is available on OH&S matters affecting employers, employees and contractors
- promote an occupational environment for employees at work that is adapted to their physiological and psychological needs
- foster a co-operative, consultative relationship between employers and employees on OH&S matters
- encourage and assist employers, employees and other persons to observe obligations imposed under the Act
- provide for effective remedies if obligations are not met.
The legislation requires employers to establish and maintain a working environment in which employees, contractors and visitors may work in a safe manner and without risk to their health, safety and welfare.
All employees have responsibilities under the Act for OH&S matters. AQIS employees must:
- take all reasonable steps to ensure their workplaces are maintained in a healthy and safe manner
- ensure their work is carried out without detriment to the health and well being of themselves or their colleagues
- follow safety instructions and procedures, participate in health and safety training as requested and use safety equipment where directed
- respond to health and safety issues by reporting all incidents causing potential or actual injury and/or illness.
The AQIS OH&S policy sets out senior management’s commitment to providing a safe work environment and how they will achieve this goal.
Roles and Responsibilities
To assist staff to meet their OH&S obligations within AQIS, individual roles and responsibilities have been established.
Some key roles and responsibilities are outlined as follows:
- the Secretary and Executive Director AQIS are responsible as the employer for the health and safety of all staff
- the Executive leadership team supports the Secretary in meeting employer obligations
- Executive Director/Executive Managers are responsible for the health and safety of staff within their business, focusing on prevention and effective rehabilitation
- the General Manager, People and Strategies provides strategic advice and support to the Secretary and Executive Management Team on OH&S issues
- the AQIS National Manager, Human Resources is responsible for the provision of strategic advice and support to the Executive Director AQIS on OH&S issues
- Managers and supervisors are responsible for the health and safety of staff under their control and for the maintenance of a safe and healthy workplace
- the Occupational Health and Safety Committee is responsible under the direction of senior managers for assisting in the development, implementation and monitoring of OH&S policies and procedures, and helps disseminate health and safety information
- Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs) exercise responsibilities and powers specified under the Act and OH&S agreements, address issues raised by staff and managers as required, as well as working cooperatively with managers and supervisors
- unions have similar functions to HSRs as outlined in the Act and OH&S agreements, as well as promote a healthy and safe work environment and they also have the responsibilities in filling HSR positions
- regional OH&S staff are responsible for the provision of professional advice to AQIS regional management and staff on all OH&S and rehabilitation matters
- outsourced OH&S advisors maintain reporting capability for all relevant OH&S and workers’ compensation statistics, provide a dedicated case management service for ill or injured staff (qualified AQIS staff carry out case management within AQIS regional offices)
- employees all have responsibilities for OH&S matters as outlined above.
AQIS is committed to reducing the risk of workplace injuries to employees, contractors and third parties resulting from workplace accidents.
Accurate reporting can prevent future occurrences and the reporting of incidents is vital to the AQIS accident prevention programme.
What are OH&S accidents and incidents?
An OH&S accident or incident can include events where:
- a potential hazard is identified
- a person is injured or suffers ill health
- property is damaged
- there is potential to cause injury or damage.
Why is notification important?
Timely notification of incidents and the reporting of hazards are useful ways of helping AQIS to:
- identify causes of incidents/accidents
- identify and reduce/control hazards
- target appropriate prevention strategies
- identify when investigative action is necessary.
How to report an incident: AQIS Safety Manager System
All accidents, incidents and hazards, regardless of severity, must be reported. AQIS uses a software system called ‘Safety Manager’.
An authorised officer must discuss an incident, accident or hazard with the Regional Plant Export Program manager who will determine how the report is to be initiated in Safety Manager, and discuss the incident details and create strategies to ensure the situation does not occur again.
Once the notification page is completed, your supervisor/manager and regional OH&S Manager are automatically notified.
For more severe instances or trends managers are required to notify Comcare, who may perform specialised investigations, and in the event of fatality the police will become involved.
Reporting timeframes for notifiable incidents are two hours for a fatality and within 24 hours for other major accidents or incidents.
The rehabilitation process assists an injured employee after an injury to return to work. The rehabilitation process is governed by legislation and organisation policy which outlines the responsibilities of all involved parties.
The Department has both a Rehabilitation Policy and Plan, and enquiries about these should be directed to your Regional Plant Export Program Manager.
Horticulture and OH&S – common issues
Below are a number of OH&S issues relating to inspection of premises used to process horticultural produce.
The premise owner/manager is responsible for ensuring that the inspection area meets State or Territory OH&S, and AQIS requirements.
The inspection bench/table must be in a safe environment designated for the inspection of export commodities. Only product samples selected for inspection are to be located in this area.
The inspection bench/table must be solid with a white surface so that insects can be readily distinguished.
Minimum 600 lux lighting must be available at the inspection surface.
In most stores such as bond stores, packing establishments and cool stores, goods are stacked in many different ways and to differing heights. In some environments unstable stacking of heavy goods in workplaces has led to serious injury and even death.
When carrying out inspections it is the responsibility of the premise owner/manager to ensure that goods are stacked in a safe manner for inspection and sampling in the inspection area.
Exposure to cold
Consignments of fresh produce are often kept in a cool room to maintain the integrity of the product. The cold storage area can present a number of environmental hazards that officers should consider.
- exposure to extreme cold
- slippery (wet/ice) floors
- mobile plant working in area
- falling pallets/goods
- accidental release of refrigerant gas (ammonia).
Prior to entering cold storage areas officers should have had specific training in the standard operating procedure for ‘Inspections in Cold Stores and Freezers’, which specifies personal protective equipment and safety precautions that must be followed in order to remain safe in the work environment.
Chemical residue on produce
In order to produce high quality horticultural produce free from pests and disease, farmers use a number of chemical treatments and controls. Although this may have been carried out a long time before you inspect the produce you cannot be sure that there is no residual chemicals still remaining.
Wearing gloves will prevent direct skin contact with any chemical residues but you must also remember to remove the gloves, and wash your hands prior to eating and rubbing your eyes.
Knives are used by AQIS officers across a number of programs and it is important that staff are aware of the potential risks associated with knife usage. It is important that all employees receive adequate instruction in knife usage, which includes maintenance and storage.
Grain and OH&S – common issues
Below are a number of OH&S issues relating to inspection of premises used to process grain.
The premise owner/manager is responsible for ensuring that the inspection area meets State or Territory OH&S, and AQIS requirements.
Adequate inspection facilities must be available and fit for use.
- ability to take samples, from the flow path for inspection
- sufficient space around stacks of bags to allow access to all bags
- pallets are stacked a maximum of two high
- adequate lighting natural or artificial is available, artificial lighting should provide a minimum of 600 lux at the inspection surface.
Moving belts at inspection points
Bulk grain inspection requires you to work in an environment with machinery and moving belts. In order to avoid injury with moving belts you must always slow or stop the belt, whilst always ensuring that the sample rate is appropriate, if you have to closely inspect the sample while the belt is moving.
Do not wear lose clothing that can be caught on moving machinery parts. Tie long hair back and well out of the way.
Truck movements around terminals
There may be significant movement at terminals of trucks and other mobile plant as trucks come in to unload grain.
To avoid unnecessary incidents be aware of your environment and take care to:
- walk only on designated walking paths
- comply with safety signage
- never approach a truck unless it has stopped
- do not stand at the rear of the truck as the grain is unloading
- do not use mobile phones in areas where mobile plant is in use
- always look and listen for truck movements.
As grain is being unloaded or moved around there is often a lot of dust in the air. Consider the use of an appropriate mask to reduce the likelihood of inhaling dust and/or leaving the area until it is suitable to re-enter
Excessive noise in the workplace can expose people to other hazards that may lead to accidents and near misses by drowning out sounds that would otherwise warn of imminent danger.
It is important to wear suitable earplugs or earmuffs in designated areas and report to the premise owner/manager and your supervisor any noisy areas or changes in noise levels, for example equipment that has suddenly become noisier.
Hearing protection should be:
- regularly tested for defects
- properly fitted and worn
- cleaned and maintained
- replaced as appropriate
- properly stored.
Slips, trips and falls
There could be a number of factors contributing to slips, trips and falls in the work environment such as:
- poor housekeeping
- liquid spillage
- grain spillage.
It is essential that the work area is kept clean and clear of these hazards.
In the case of grain spills this presents issues in terms of hygiene and sanitation as well as posing an OH&S risk. It is therefore essential that all grain spills are dealt with as quickly as possible.
Posture and manual handling
Grain sampling on belts involves looking down for long periods of time. To avoid strains, change positions and do stretching exercises regularly.
When handling loads be aware of posture and manual handling techniques. The premise owner/manager must provide a person to assist with manual handling when required. Reduce your manual handling to a minimum and always seek assistance.
Methyl bromide and phosphine are fumigants often used to treat grain for pests. As officers you should never be directly involved with the fumigation of a consignment, however you may order goods for fumigation and conduct follow up inspections.
Before conducting the re-inspection on a container of fumigated goods, request the Fumigation Certificate and the Gas Free Certificate.
These certificates indicate the monitored level of gas remaining. Do not approach or open containers that have been fumigated and do not have a certificate.
Photoionising Detectors (PIDs) may also be available in some regions and an officer should be equipped with a PID (and given appropriate training) if one is available.
Relevant eLearning Modules
- Export OH&S
- Export Inspections: Ship Inspection
- Introduction to Empty Container Inspections
- Export Inspections: Commodity Inspection Parts A, B & C
- You can contact your Regional Plant Export Program Manager to clarify any aspects of this volume in the first instance.
- You can also direct a specific question or provide feedback to Plant Exports Training
Volume 15 | Index | Volume 18