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Be storm ready and help protect workers in agriculture

We’ve already had a number of nasty storms and flooding in Queensland this year, and the Bureau of Meteorology is predicting more for the rest of the summer. With that in mind, rural workplaces are being urged to make sure they’re prepared for the hazards heavy rain and flooding can bring, particularly in the bush.

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland has a comprehensive guide to managing the risks floods can bring, including hazards caused by the floods themselves and the after-effects such as biological, electrical and asbestos hazards, as well as psychological stress.

The tips and advice include a first aid guide and information on how to ‘hope for the best but prepare for the worst’. By being vigilant and maintaining safety during difficult times, rural producers can reduce the risk of death, injury and illness to themselves, their workers and others involved in the clean-up and repair effort.

Whether it’s during storm season or not, workplaces, both rural and in the city, still need to focus on identifying hazards, reviewing control measures and controlling risks. The guide has vital information on fatigue management, chemical and biological hazards, and the best protective gear to wear.

For instance, storms and floods may have buried, moved or damaged hazardous chemical containers including corrosives, oils, pesticides and industrial chemicals stored around a property. The guide lists how to handle such scenarios, including when to call emergency services.

Rural workplaces also face their own special storm risks, not normally encountered by city workplaces. That’s why the guide has information on dealing with snakes and spiders dislodged by rain, and precautions to take when driving quad bikes in the wet. The guide also refers to important safety information from Queensland Health, including tips and advice on risks involved in coming into contact with floodwater – illnesses such as leptospirosis and melioidosis and the need for a tetanus booster.

Workers who handle and dispose of animal carcasses should also be aware of the infection risks from this type of work and how to protect against it, including personal hygiene measures and personal protective equipment. Operating wheeled or tracked machinery in the wet also comes with its own dangers:

  • possible changed ground conditions which may increase the risk of roll over, bogging or loss of stability
  • decreased vision due to rain, mud and other conditions
  • the possibility of an unstable waterway, channel or dam.

Further information

Find out all the facts and more about storms and floods.