Wine industry fact sheet

This publication is for: 
Employee / workerEmployer

This fact sheet provides information on the safety issues within the wine industry. 

Induction training

All new employees must receive adequate information, instruction and training on hazards they are or may be exposed to in the course of their duties at the workplace, prior to commencing work. A documented safety induction process allows the employer to fulfil this duty of care required of them under the Occupational Safety & Health Act 1984.

A safety induction needs to include the following four areas. 

Duty of care of employers and employees

  • Employers must: 
    • provide and maintain a workplace where employees are not exposed to hazards; 
    • provide safe systems of work; safe plant and substances; 
    • consult with their employees on matters of safety and health, and 
    • provide personal protective clothing and equipment. 
  • Employees must: 
    • take reasonable care for their own safety and health and that of others affected by their work; 
    • wear protective clothing and equipment supplied by employer; 
    • report hazards to their employer, and 
    • co-operate with their employer in regard to matters of safety and health


  • Identify and document each hazard employees are exposed to, and measures implemented to reduce the risk of injury to employees. 
    • eg. Electrical hazards example: Employees using electrical leads and tools in wet areas are at risk of electrical shock injuries. The risk of this hazard is reduced at this workplace by: 
      • The provision and maintenance of a residual current device (RCD) at the switchboard. 
      • The regular inspection, repair and testing of electrical leads and equipment  
      • Ensuring all leads are secured off the ground and away from wet areas. 
    • Other hazards in the workplace could include: 
      • Guarding of machinery 
      • Hazardous substances 
      • Forklift operations 
      • Tractor operations 
      • Manual handling 
      • Confined space entry

Accident and emergency procedures

  • What to do in the event of a fire or other emergency 
  • Emergency phone numbers 
  • Develop a diagram of the workplace showing location of exits, fire equipment, first aid equipment and emergency assembly areas. 
  • A documented system of injury reporting. 

Safe work procedures for hazardous tasks

  • Examples of hazardous tasks include: 
    • Tractor operations
      • Detailing maintenance and pre start checks, rules of operation and speed limit on slopes and other areas, age limit of operator, understanding of attaching 3 point linkage, PTO's, implements and guards correctly, refuelling procedures. 
    • Spraying of chemicals
      • Instructions on safe decanting, use and spill procedures. Correct use and maintenance of PPE such as respirators, coveralls and boots. Important information can be obtained from product Material Safety Data Sheets for use in developing procedures, appropriate certification. 

Access to wine fermentation tanks

Previous inspections of wineries conducted by WorkSafe Western Australia inspectors revealed many hazards associated with falls from height, non-compliance with the regulations relating to edge protection and the inappropriate use of portable ladders. 

Regulation 3.55 of the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996 requires that a fixed stair, landing, suspended slab, scaffold formwork or falsework that is located in such a position that a person could fall two or more metres, must be provided with edge protection in the form of a guard rail complying with sub regulation (5) of regulation 3.55 off the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996

Other open edges not referred above where a person could fall three or more metres from an edge must be provided with edge protection complying with sub regulation (5) or a fall injury prevention system in situations where a person could fall three or more metres from an edge. 

In addition, guard rails should be extended around the top hatch of tanks. This removes the need to use fall arrest equipment when accessing tank hatches. 

In many instances portable ladders have been used to provide permanent access to tanks and elevated walkways. This is an unacceptable practice. 

All wineries, using portable ladders need to reassess this situation and take remedial action. 

Confined space entry

It is paramount that adequate confined space procedures are implemented and training provided if employees are required to enter confined spaces as part of their work duties. 

Employers have a general duty of care under Section 19 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 to, so far as is practicable: 

  • provide and maintain workplaces, plant and systems of work such that employees are not exposed to hazards; and 
  • provide information, instruction, training and supervision of employees to enable them to perform their work in such a manner that they are not exposed to hazards. 

The definition of a 'confined space' is contained in regulation 3.82 of the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996. It means: 

An enclosed or partially enclosed space which:

  • is not intended or designed primarily as a workplace; 
  • is at atmospheric pressure during occupancy; and 
  • has restricted means for entry and exit; 

And which either:

  • has an atmosphere containing or likely to contain potentially harmful levels of contaminant; 
  • has or is likely to have an unsafe oxygen level; or 
  • is of a nature or is likely to be of a nature that could contribute to a person in the space being overwhelmed by an unsafe atmosphere, or a contaminant. 

Regulation 3.85 requires that work done in a confined space at a workplace must comply with the provisions of Australian Standard 2865. 

The objectives of Australian Standard 2865 are to:- 

  • eliminate or, where this is not practicable, minimise the need to enter confined spaces; and 
  • provide safe systems of work for all persons who need to enter or work in confined spaces. 

Adequate confined space procedures must be developed taking into account the specific hazards that may be encountered. Persons to be involved in confined spaces work must be adequately trained in the agreed procedures

Effectively, the regulations and Australian Standard 2865 require that no person shall enter a confined space unless: 

  • the risks have been assessed, an entry plan established and an authority to enter (entry permit) has been provided; 
  • the atmosphere of the confined space has been tested and ventilated prior to and during entry; 
  • there is a contingency (rescue) plan that can be implemented in case of an emergency. (This will involve ensuring that all necessary equipment needed is available and serviceable and that relevant staff have been trained in its use). 

Electrical safety

Recent inspections in and around wineries by WorkSafe Western Australia inspectors revealed many hazards in relation to the use and supply of electricity. The following information is a summary of the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996 and Australian Standards relating to electricity: 

  • Hand held portable electrical equipment must be protected by a residual current device (RCD) - regulation 3.60(1). 
  • All components on electrical switchboards must be marked to indicate their relationship with other sections of the installation - regulation 3.59(a). 
  • Lights, fixtures and switchboards must be protected where there is a risk of them being damaged - regulation 3.59(a). 
  • All extension cord plugs and sockets are required to be of either the moulded or transparent type - regulation 3.59(b). 


Maximum allowable length of extension cords is restricted to
Extension Cord Rating Conductor Area Maximum Length
10 amp both plug ends 1.0 mm 25 m 
10 amp both plug ends 1.5 mm 35 m 
15 amp both plug ends 1.5 mm 25 m
15 amp both plug ends 2.5 mm 40 m 


  • Double adaptors and domestic power boards are generally not designed to cope with the electrical load of wineries and should not be used - regulation 3.59(a). 
  • Electrical equipment and fittings used in wet or damp locations must be suitable for the environment - regulation 3.59(a). 

This information is intended to assist the industry to improve electrical safety. 

A sound approach to electrical safety is to engage the services of a licensed electrician to provide regular inspections, maintenance and reports on the electrical installations at your workplace. 

Evacuation procedures

Evacuation procedures should be developed for emergencies such as: 

  • fire; 
  • explosion; 
  • chemical spills; 
  • accidents; 
  • medical emergencies; 
  • floods; and 
  • bushfires.

Occupational Safety and Health Regulation 3.10 prescribes that workplaces must: 

  • have an evacuation procedure to be followed in the event of a fire or other emergency; 
  • display the evacuation procedure in a clear and prominent position; 
  • include in the evacuation procedure a diagram showing the location of exists and assembly areas; 
  • practice the evacuation procedure at regular intervals; and 
  • ensure that persons at the workplace who may be required to use fire extinguishers are appropriately trained.

It is good practice to have emergency phone numbers readily available as part of the emergency procedures. These should include: 

  • nearest hospital; 
  • doctor; 
  • ambulance; 
  • fire brigade; 
  • local police station; 
  • poison information centre; 
  • chemical manufacturer; and 
  • key workplace personnel.

In addition to the above, the address of the workplace and directions on how to get there are vital for emergency services as is a guide to show emergency services how best to get to the emergency scene.

Gas cylinders

Previous inspections of winery and vineyard premises by WorkSafe Western Australia inspectors found many breaches of OSH regulations. In respect of gas cylinders regulation 3.27(a) states: 

'A person who, at a workplace is an employer, the main contractor or a self-employed person must ensure that any gas cylinder at the workplace - 

  • is appropriately secured and protected from damage; and 
  • is not lifted or lowered by mechanical means unless it is contained in an appropriate type of box."

Unsecured gas cylinders in the work environment present many hazards: 

  • Physical - personal injury from cylinder falling 
  • Projectile - personal and material damage 
  • Combustion - fire/explosion 
  • Asphyxiation - breathing in escaping gas 

The following are necessary to ensure gas cylinders are stored and handled appropriately: 

  • They must be secured against falling and protected from damage; 
  • MSDS are available for the contained product; 
  • They be kept away from artificial sources of heat and ignition; 
  • They must be kept clear of combustible and flammable materials; 
  • Routine checks to detect leaks, damage and obstructions are required; 
  • Appropriate personal protective equipment should be used for moving cylinders; 
  • Cylinders should only be used in an upright manner unless otherwise permitted by the manufacturer/supplier; 
  • Cylinders should not be dropped and care should be taken to ensure valves are not damaged; 
  • All equipment should be kept clean and free of grease and oil; 
  • Clear emergency instructions should be developed and implemented; and 
  • There must be flashback arrestors fitted at both the regulator and the hand piece of Oxy-Acetylene cylinders.

Guarding of grape crushers

Crushers with augers are in wide use in the wine industry. The grape receival bins feeding the augers vary in size. Some are large enough for people to fall into. Others are small hand fed receival bins where a person can easily reach the auger at the bottom of the bin with their hand. 


  • by law, all dangerous parts of crushers/augers must be guarded to prevent access to the danger zones by persons who use the plant; and 
  • by law, manufacturers and suppliers of equipment must provide safe plant and make available adequate information about safe use and maintenance of their equipment. 

Receival bins must have adequate guarding to prevent people falling into, or becoming entangled in them. The bins can be guarded with appropriate grid or mesh barriers. The barrier must be designed to prevent a person's body parts coming in contact with the auger. The slot or opening dimensions will depend on the safety distance of the auger from the barrier and the accessibility of relevant body parts to the danger zone. 

For example, a large receival bin which people can fall into must be guarded with railing in accordance with Australian Standard 1657-1992 or by a mesh or grid barrier that will prevent a person falling through the openings, or limbs penetrating into the danger zone. A small hand fed bin must be guarded to prevent a person's fingers or hand coming in contact with the auger. 


Extreme care must be taken when persons access the auger for cleaning. The power supply to the plant must be isolated, locked-out and tagged  with a 'personal danger' tag and 'out of service' tag before commencing work (for more details see the Guidance note: Isolation of plant). 

Machinery hazards

Prior inspections of machinery guarding at wineries and vineyards found a high level of machinery that 

  • was not adequately guarded; and 
  • had for whatever reason had the fitted guards removed and not replaced.

The predominant areas in which compliance is lacking were:- 

  • V-belts and pulleys on machinery; and 
  • Power take-off drives to tractors and implements. 

Section 19(1)(a) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 requires that safe machinery be provided at the workplace. 

Unguarded machinery is not safe machinery

Spot the hazard

Further examples of unguarded machinery likely to cause injury include: 

  • gearing (including friction roller mechanisms), cables, sprockets, chains, clutches, cams and fan blades; 
  • the nip or run-on point of any belt, chain or cable. (All belts are hazardous, especially if joints are not smooth.) 
  • on rotating parts, keyways, keys, grease nipples, set-screws, bolts or any other projections; 
  • any pulley or flywheel that incorporates any openings, spokes, protrusions, etc, that render it other than totally smooth; 
  • any crushing or shearing points, eg augers and slide blocks, roller feeds, conveyor belts; 
  • ground wheels and track gear that incorporates protrusions, spokes, etc, that are adjacent to an operator's position (standing platform, seat, footrest) or passenger's seat; 
  • rotating blades, tines or similar parts of power driven machines that operate in or near the ground, or engage crops; and 
  • any machine component that cuts, grinds, pulps, crushes, breaks or pulverises farm product;

Assess the risk

Once a hazard has been identified, assess the likelihood of the hazard resulting injury to the operator or any other person, and the likely severity of any injury or harm. For more information see Plant in the Workplace: A Guide to Managing Risks from Plant in the Workplace for Employers and Employees (National Occupational Health and Safety Commission Publication). 

Make the changes

Ensure machinery guards: 

  • are designed in a practical way to protect the user but allow ready access for operation and maintenance; 
  • are always in place on dangerous parts of machinery unless they are, by any reasonable definition, located out of reach of users, operators or bystanders; 
  • are conveniently placed so that users, operators and service and maintenance people are less likely to remove them permanently; 
  • are strong and durable enough for the machine part they cover; 
  • are ventilated where applicable to avoid the machine over-heating; and 
  • are not removed until the machine is stopped and isolated with a lock-out device, and all sources of potential energy are neutralised, eg pressure in the hydraulics, or LPG 

Assess the changes

Once the identified hazards at the workplace have been mitigated, a reassessment must be made to ensure those changes do not create new hazards. 

Ongoing and regular assessments of workplace hazards must be made to ensure that changes to the workplace such as environmental, mechanical and personnel are not allowing for new hazards to develop.


Fact sheet
Last updated 20 May 2014

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