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Rural workers urged to take care during flood clean up

Rural workers cleaning up after summer storms and flooding have been urged to heed safety advice because of the special work safety issues they face on the land.

A/Executive Director Workplace Health and Safety Paul Goldsbrough said extra safety precautions needed to be taken when using quad bikes, motor bikes and other farm machinery for flood rectification work.

Mr Goldsbrough also urged quad bike and off-road motorbike operators to wear a helmet at all times – reflecting proposed amendments to the Rural Plant Code of Practice 2004 that are currently open for public comment.

“Wearing helmets is already mandatory for people riding bikes and motorbikes on-road, and farm workers who ride quad bikes and motorbikes face a similar range of potentially fatal hazards – so wearing helmets makes sense,” Mr Goldsbrough said.  

Under the proposed changes to the laws, farm workers would have to be correctly trained and wear an approved helmet while operating a quad bike and motorbike off-road. Children under 16 would be banned from riding adult quad bikes and manufacturers would need to supply information about correct usage of their vehicles.

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland advises that workers using quad bikes to help with cleaning up after storms should check for potential hazards before attempting to cross any waterways, flooded or muddy terrain. Bikes should be operated at speeds suitable to the conditions and not by children or inexperienced, untrained adults.

Generally, operating rural machinery in the wet means operators have to beware of changed ground condition which may increase the risk of roll over, bogging or loss of stability.

When repairing fences, only use skilled operators for chainsaws, tractors or post drivers and be aware of barbed or fencing wire that may be hidden.

Snakes, mosquitoes and other dangerous or nuisance pests also pose special hazards peculiar to rural work environments.

Assess the safest option for the recovery of stranded or injured livestock, do not enter flood waters and maintain good personal hygiene practice to reduce risk of infection from contaminated sources.

For more information on working safely when cleaning up after storms and flooding, visit www.worksafe.qld.gov.au or call the WHS Infoline on 1300 369 915.

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Last reviewed
23 December 2011
Last updated
5 November 2015

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