Inspection program in vegetable growing reinforces concerns with mobile plant and hazardous substances

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An inspection program in the vegetable growing industry has reinforced previous concerns over mobile plant and hazardous substances in the industry.

 

The proactive inspection program, carried out by WorkSafe inspectors across the 2014/15 financial year, focused on both under cover and outdoor vegetable growers in the Perth metropolitan area.

More than 300 improvement and prohibition notices were issued across the 41 workplaces visited as part of the program.

WorkSafe Director Construction, Regional and Primary Industries Chris Kirwin said today vegetable growing had been identified as an area of interest because of the high level of fatal and serious injuries in the agriculture industry.

“More specifically, vegetable growing in the Perth metropolitan area was highlighted when properties were raided by police and other agencies and it was suspected that safety standards were not high,” Mr Kirwin said.

“It was further suspected that injury statistics for the industry were underestimations due to the high number of transient workers involved in vegetable growing and harvesting.

“A total of 297 improvement notices and seven prohibition notices were issued during the program, with the greatest number of notices relating to problems with mobile plant and hazardous substances.

“Seventy-seven notices were issued relating to mobile plant, mostly for problems with maintenance, records of maintenance and pre-start checks and guarding not fitted to power take-offs.

“A further 76 notices related to hazardous substances, with most relating to risk assessment records for hazardous substances, a lack of hazardous substance registers, no training for employees and a lack of health surveillance of workers.

“The results of this program confirmed the fact that mobile plant is known to be the biggest single cause of death and serious injury in the vegetable growing industry.

“Wherever vehicles and people interact, strict rules need to be in place to ensure the work environment is kept as safe as possible, and a large number of recent incidents across industries indicates that more attention needs to be given to this crucial workplace issue.

“Machinery guarding continues to be a serious concern, with 26 notices issued during this program relating to a lack of guarding on power take-offs.  PTOs can draw clothing or body parts into the moving parts of machinery, often resulting in serious injury or even death.

“The industry gave feedback to the inspectors during the program that there was little knowledge within the industry about the need for health surveillance when workers were coming into contact with organophosphate chemicals.

“Of the 41 growers visited, 12 were using organophosphates and none of the workers at these were undergoing health surveillance.

“As a result of this inspection program, WorkSafe will continue to closely monitor the vegetable growing industry, work with industry groups to improve compliance in the industry and liaise with training providers to ensure that legislative requirements on health surveillance are met.”

Further information, including the Vegetable Growing Checklist and the Agricultural Safety and Health Checklist, can be obtained by telephoning WorkSafe on 1300 307877 or on the website at www.worksafe.wa.gov.au.

Media contact: Caroline De Vaney 6251 2363 or 0408 927563 (media enquiries only)

caroline.devaney@commerce.wa.gov.au

Follow @WorkSafeWA on Twitter

WorkSafe
Media release
13 Nov 2015

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