Wed 02 Aug 2017

WorkSafe Update – New Responsibilities for Employers:

CCF Members are reminded that under the new OHS Regulations 2017 (Vic), ‘Chapter 5 – Hazardous industries, Part 5.1 – Construction; Division 2 – Control of risk – Subdivision 1 – Duties of employers and self-employed persons’; at sub section 331 Emergency procedures – employers and self-employed persons are now required to develop emergency procedures if there is a risk of a person becoming engulfed by soil or other material when construction work is being performed.

This is particularly relevant to the civil contracting industry, and applies for all deep trenching and excavation activities (> 1.5 metres in depth or even <1.5 metres in depth if there is a risk present (i.e. Sandy soil type). Given the nature of sewer and drainage trenching and construction activities, and other types of construction excavation activities, civil contractors are urged to give serious consideration to the development of Trench and Excavation emergency procedures within your organisations. This will involve a thorough review of emergency procedures, and may include training in trench and confined space rescue techniques and development of worker competencies therein.

A sound Emergency Rescue plan may take into account the following key criteria and be aligned with the federal government’s Unit of Competency PUASAR030A ’ Undertake trench rescue’. Key elements include:

  • Prepare for trench rescue operation
  • Assess and manage a trench rescue scene
  • Stabilise the trench (inc. trench protection measures)
  • Locate and gain entry to confined space
  • Remove casualties
  • Equipment and PPE to be used
  • First Aid competencies and infrastructure

Consideration needs to be given to the nature of the emergency and the immediate actions required by first responders. This may include the immediate actions required with consideration of the risk to the first responders, the nature of the emergency (eg. Engulfment severity, risk of further engulfment/collapse and/or exacerbation, immobilised worker at bottom of the trench, etc.), the relationship between immediate rescue actions and the use of Emergency Services (and associated time delay); all to be considered commensurate with the nature of the emergency and the possibility of a serious injury or fatal outcome.

WorkSafe Victoria has been contacted to clarify their expectations on the Emergency Rescue Plan; their initial response is that they don’t expect the contractors to be fully trained rescuers but have some methodology in place for attempting rescue. There is an acknowledgement that each situation is different and that the rescue plan will consider all site specific factors.

The draft Excavation Compliance Code provides some guidelines on the process – CLICK HERE.

We will be in a better position to provide you with a generic rescue plan after further consultation with WorkSafe. In the meantime, as with all emergency procedures, don’t place yourself or others in further danger.