Local Government

The term Local Government refers to the system in which 68 local councils operate in South Australia employing approximately 7,700 people. All councils provide regulatory services to the community within specific statutory responsibilities. These services are provided and work is carried out at the discretion of each council as part of its general roles and functions under the Local Government Act, including the following:

  • road construction and maintenance
  • footpath construction and maintenance
    • street lighting
    • maintenance of parks, ovals and sporting facilities
    • waste management and recycling
    • storm water drainage
    • library and information services

INJURIES
Due to that hazardous nature of the work generally performed by council workers there are numerous injuries that occur.
The most common are sustained due to:

  • structural collapse
  • working with powered mobile plant and equipment
  • roadside traffic
  • noise
  • hazardous substances
  • asbestos
  • manual handling

HAZARDS  

UV RADIATION AND HOT TEMPERATURES
When working outdoors the extreme weather can have an effect on an individuals ability to perform their job. When the body can not get rid of as much heat as is needed to maintain a normal body temperature (35 – 37° C) heat stress can arise. This may result in:

Heat rash – excessive sweating results in the sweat glands becoming blocked which, inhibits your ability to sweat and lose heat.

Heat cramps – can occur as a result due to the loss of salt and/or potassium during sweating.

Heat exhaustion – clammy skin, confusion, nausea, vomiting, weakness, fatigue, slurred speech and light headedness. Sweating becomes profuse resulting in moist and pale skin. It is important to be aware of these signs as those experiencing heat exhaustion are often unaware.

Heat stroke The skin is no longer able to sweat disabling the bodies cooling system. This can result in staggered walking, mental confusion, hot skin, convulsions, deliriousness and incoherence and even death.

In these circumstances some of the most effective ways of managing these conditions is by introducing some simple administrative controls:

  • reschedule work to cooler times of the day
  • provide more frequent rest breaks
  • provide free access to cool drinking water
  • introduce shading in areas where individuals are working
  • induction and acclimatisation of new workers
  • workplace monitoring
  • educate workers about recognizing the early symptoms of heat stress

  Problem and symptoms caused by hot temperatures

Temperature Range (°C) Effects
19 – 27° C Comfort Zone Maximum Efficiency
As temperature increases¦ Discomfort:

  • increased irritability
  • loss of concentration
  • loss of efficiency in mental tasks
    Mental problems
Increase or errors:

  • loss of efficiency in manual tasks
  • more accidents
Physiological problems
Loss of performance in heavy work:

  • disturbed water and electrolyte balance
  • heavy load on heart and circulation
  • fatigue and threat of exhaustion
Physiological problems
35 – 40° C Limit of high temperature tolerance

 Employees who work outdoors for all or part of the day are at greater risk of skin cancer. All skin types can be damaged by exposure to solar ultraviolet radiation (UVR). Damage is permanent and irreversible and increases with each exposure.

Under Australian occupational health and safety legislation, employers should be considering steps to reduce this risk and protect their employees from ongoing exposure to solar UVR that could lead to skin cancer.  Implementing a comprehensive sun protection program, including a range of simple protective measures, can prevent sun-related injuries and reduce the suffering and costs associated with skin cancer.

How to protect your skin
1) Reduce exposure to the suns UV radiation

  • Work and take breaks in the shade. Where no shade exists, use temporary portable shade.
  • Plan to work indoors or in the shade during the middle of the day when UV radiation levels are the strongest.
  • Plan to do outdoor work tasks early in the morning or later in the afternoon when UV radiation levels are lower.
  • Share outdoor tasks and rotate staff so the same person is not always out in the sun.

2) Slip on some sun-protective work clothing

  • Cover as much skin as possible.
  • Long pants and work shirts with a collar and long sleeves are best.
  • Choose lightweight, closely woven fabric with an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) of 50+
  • Choose loose fitting clothing to keep cool in the heat.

3) Slap on a hat

  • A hat should shade your face, ears and neck.
  • A broad brimmed style hat should have a 8 cm brim.
  • A bucket style hat should have a deep crown, angled brim of 6cm and sit low on the head.
  • Legionnaire style hats should have a flap that covers the neck and joins to the sides of the front peak.
  • If wearing a hard hat or helmet use a brim attachment or legionnaire cover.

4) Slide on some sunglasses

  • Be aware that your eyes can also be damaged by the suns UV radiation
  • Wear loose fitting, wrap around style sunglasses.
  • When buying new glasses, check the swing tag to ensure they meet the Australian Standard (AS 1067: 2003) and are safe for driving.
  • Look for an eye protection factor of 10.
  • Polarised lenses reduce glare and make it easier to see on sunny days.

5) Slop on SPF 30+ sunscreen

  • No sunscreen provides complete protection so never rely on sunscreen alone
  • Choose sunscreen that is broad spectrum and water resistant.
  • Apply sunscreen generously to clean, dry skin 20 minutes before you go outdoors.
  • Reapply every two hours or more often when sweating.
  • Protect your lips with an SPF 30+ lip balm.
  • Always check and follow the use by date on the bottle.


Personal Protective Equipment includes:
– Use of cooling vests
– Broad brimmed hat at least 8cm
– Long sleeved, closed weave shirt (AS/NZS 4399: 1996)
– SPF 30+ sunscreen
– Sunglasses (AS 1067: 2003)

CONFINED SPACES
The Work Health and Safety Regulations 2012 defines a confined space as an enclosed or partially enclosed space that –
(a) is not designed or intended primarily to be occupied by a person; and
(b) is, or is designed or intended to be, at normal atmospheric pressure while any person is in the space; and
(c) is or is likely to be a risk to health and safety from—
(i) an atmosphere that does not have a safe oxygen level; or
(ii) contaminants, including airborne gases, vapours and dusts, that may cause injury from fire or explosion; or
(iii) harmful concentrations of any airborne contaminants; or
(iv) engulfment,
but does not include a mine shaft or the workings of a mine;

The types of hazards which can exist in confined spaces which may lead to injury include:

  • restricted or tight access
  • ladders
  • wet areas
  • deep pits
  • poor lighting
  • electricity in wet areas
  • protrusions
  • poor housekeeping
  • lack of communication facilities
  • flooding
  • infection
  • lack of machine guarding
  • fire/explosion
  • lack of hand rails
  • excessive noise
  • lack of safety equipment and tools
  • lack of manpower
  • animals (snakes, rats)
  • slips, trips and falls
  • hot/cold stress
  • hot/cold stress
  • suffocation
  • engulfment

 

JOB / TASK:

Confined Space Entry
(This procedure is to be used in conjunction with any operating manuals or training relevant to the task)

SPECIAL COMMENTS:

This is a generic Safe Work Procedure only and Council will need to refine it to suit specific tasks. All employees entering or working as an observer in a confined space must have completed the confined space training course.

 

WHAT TO DO HAZARDS HOW TO DO IT PPE

STEPS IN ORDER OF ACTION

APPLICABLE TO EACH STEP

IDENTIFY EQUIPMENT, SAFETY, QUALITY AND PERFORMANCE REQUIREMENTS

Planning Complete a confined space risk assessment form or review any existing risk assessment that is held for the particular confined space that is to be entered.
Once the hazards have been assessed ensure a safe work method is identified and all necessary equipment is obtained and precautions are implemented.
 
Pre-Check of Safety Equipment Sprain/Strain Equipment is to be checked before leaving the site to go to the confined space location.
Check harnesses, lifelines, hoisting devices and protective clothing for defects and cleanliness.
Ensure gas detection devices, breathing apparatus, rescue equipment and communication devices are available and functional.
Check the first aid kit is fully stocked.
 
Isolate and Testing (if applicable) Sprain/Strain
Traffic
Install bunding if required and erect signs and barricades to keep vehicles and pedestrians clear of the worksite.
Close valves and install locking plates and danger tags.
Blank off pipes.
Disconnect lines.
Isolate and danger tag all electrical and energy sources.
Ventilate the area ensuring air intake is clear of any toxic fumes and open other access points.
Use breathing apparatus if indicated by the risk assessment.
Continue to monitor the atmosphere as required.
Set up a winching system i.e. tripod if required.
Fit harness and adjust straps correctly if a harness is indicated in the risk assessment.
If lighting is needed, use only earth-free extra low voltage supply from an isolating transformer, OR equipment protected by an RCD.
Both transformer and RCD must be located outside the confined space.
Set up the rescue system that provides an observer, communication, first aid, support and rescue as required.
 
Issue Entry Permit Ensure all tests have been completed and recorded.
Authorise permit.
Issue a new permit if a change of personnel is needed, there is a significant break in work continuity or there is a significant change in the risks.
 
Entry of Confined Space Asphyxiation
Atmospheric Contamination
Slips, Trips, Falls
Sprain/Strain
Explosion
Electrocution
Attach lifeline arrestor to the safety harness.
Check ladder, handrails and other fittings are secure and in good condition.
Lower all tools and equipment into the confined space safely.
Check air monitoring equipment regularly.
 
Exit of Confined Space Ensure all persons have left the confined space.
Complete the entry permit stating the status of the task.
Make worksite safe and equipment is removed.
Return permit to the appropriate person.
 

(Table taken from the Local Government Association Workers Compensation Scheme)


STAND-BY PERSON

In all situations a stand-by person/attendant must be posted outside the confined space when work is performed, and must remain on duty throughout the duration of the entry, unless relieved by another person of equivalent experience and training. This individual should be provided with the same level of protection worn by those within the confined space so that they can look into the vessel also.

The specific duties of the standby person include the following:

  • Maintain an accurate count of all persons within the confined space.
  • Monitor activities inside and outside the confined space to determine weather it remains safe for the entrants to continue inside the confined space.
  • Maintain effective and continuous contact with ALL the people working inside the space using radio, agreed hand signals, horn lights etc.
  • Prevent entry of unauthorised persons into the confined space.
  • Order evacuation of the confined space if necessary.
  • Raise the alarm for rescue teams and emergency services.
  • Assist with the rescue services as necessary without entering the confined space.

The stand-by person should attempt to remove the entrants from the confined space using tripods, hoists and lifelines. They must NEVER enter the confined space. Only properly trained and equipped emergency rescue personnel may enter the confined space to make a rescue

** Over 60% of workers who die in confined spaces are would-be rescuers.

Other hazards in the local government sector include:

Hazardous Substances UV Radiation Slips and Trips Confined Spaces
Plant/Machinery Heights Manual Handling Asbestos

Note:
Many companies have been found in breach of their OHS obligations to employees.
Take an informative look at the successful prosecutions by SafeWork SA .
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION 

Safe Working in a Confined Space – Australian Standard AS2865-1995  
The Australian standard outlining risk assessment and prevention,
control measures and record keeping.

Working in Confined Spaces 
Fact Sheetprovided by SafeWork SA

Local Government Association of South Australia website

Simple stretches to reduce the risk of suffering a manual handling injury
Prevention is better than cure! You can do just a few of the
stretches anytime during the day. Try some of them before you get stiff and sore –
Stretch prior to doing any manual handling tasks.

UV Index Forecast for Adelaide
The UV Alert, is issued when the UV Index forecast is 3 or above. This alert identifies the period when you need to be Sun Smart. Check the daily UV alert for Adelaide.
The Cancer Council of South Australia website

Acknowledgements:
Health and Safety Executive – UK www.hse.gov.uk
Cancer Council of South Australia – www.cancersa.org.au
Local Government Association – www.lga.sa.gov.au