Quest 3 - Damsel in distress!
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Heather Birt- Cleaner

Heather Birt- Cleaner | Quest 3 - Damsel in distress! | Scoop.it

This is Heather. Heather is a commercial and domestic cleaner. Her roles varies from doing activities such as dusting, to washing the outside of houses. In the picture provided she is carrying out a mould removal. Heather believes that one of the biggest Occupational Health and Safety issue she has to deal with at work is slips, trips and falls and exposure to chemicals.

Kate Vagg's insight:

In my quest to guide Heather towards a safer workplace, I have found the following resources that will be effective in opening up a better understanding of safety in the workplace and provide some guidance to becoming compliant under workplace health and safety regulations. 

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Kate Vagg's curator insight, April 9, 2014 2:02 AM

In Heathers workplace there are a number of risks involved in her job. She enters private residences, whose owners are not always so concerned about Occupational Health and Safety. Before starting a job, Heather makes sure that she has minimized the risk of tripping by removing objects from the area she is working in. She uses wet floor signs to warn her fellow employees and clients that the floor may be slippery and ensures that any chemicals she is using is out of the general area she is working in. 

 

When washing down the outside of houses and performing mould removals Heather uses Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) supplied by her employer. She said that she is supplied with gloves, safety glasses, and hats. Heathers employer also provides sunscreen whilst working outdoors. 

 

Heather works with a number of electrical appliances, which her boss ensures are tested and tagged yearly to ensure they are fit for use and all chemicals in the workplace are labelled as per the Labelling of Workplace Hazardous Chemicals Code of Practice 2011. 

 

Heather very rarely works on her own, she says "my boss thinks its safer if there is two of us, as we can keep an eye on each other, especially if we are using ladders"

 

Whilst there are a great number of risks to Heathers health and safety in her job, her employer and her fellow team members do a good job of minimizing the risk and remaining vigilant. When I asked Heather if there had been any injuries in the workplace, her reply was, "none that I can recall". 

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Prevention of Falls - Ladders

Kate Vagg's insight:

Although Heather isn't put in a position where a fall from above two meters is likely to happen, there is still a risk surrounding the use of ladders and falling from a short height. This document provides images to support the information provided on positioning and securing of ladders. 

 

The prevention of falls guide also provides points that should be addressed when carrying out a risk assessment on the use of ladders. Also provided in this guide, is the codes of practice relevant to the use of ladders and other materials available to aid with risk assessment and compliance under the WHS Act. 

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Stop for Safety kit - Slips, trips and falls - Workplace Health and Safety Queensland

The Stop for Safety kit contains everything you need to host a short health and safety event in the workplace on slips, trips and falls.
Kate Vagg's insight:

Although Heathers position in her company is not in management, this short safety presentation is a great resource. I work with heather in a supervisory role and as a result of coming across this in my quest to to guide her towards a safer workplace, I have set a date and time with the owner of the company to run through this in the coming weeks.

 

The presentation provides a brief overview of some simple but effective ways to reduce the risk of slips, trips and falls in the workplace. 

 

This information would be particularly useful in regards to the outside cleaning of buildings and houses as the process involves both the use of water and soap and the area can become very slippery. 

 

Although most of the information provided in this 'kit' can be thought of as common knowledge, it is best to revisit this information occasionally to ensure that safety in kept in the forefront. 

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psychhealth-smallbusiness.pdf

Kate Vagg's insight:

During my initial interview with Heather she made no mention of the risk to workplace stress her job carries. Psychosocial risk management is important in every work place. The psychological Health for Small Business document highlights how to identify psychological risk factors and provides a flow chart on how to manage the risk.

 

Whilst reading the document I noticed at least three risk factors that can be linked to Heathers work:

- working alone

-tight time frames with high output; and

-little control of job

 

There are many more factors that could be identified in Heathers' work place. This document provides helpful tips as to how to manage those risks and create a safer psychosocial environment in the workplace. 

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Managing%20Risks%20of%20Hazardous%20Chemicals.pdf

Kate Vagg's insight:

Managing the risks of hazardous chemicals in the workplace is important to providing a safe working environment. This Code of Practice provides a guide to achieving the standards required under Work Health and Safety regulations and the Workplace Health and Safety Act.

 

Heathers' company would benefit from having a copy of this code available. It provides information regarding how to identify which chemicals are hazardous and risk assessment.

 

The Code also provides methods of controlling the risks, focusing on the Hierarchy of Control. The hierarchy of control can be described as the ranking  of measures of control from the highest level of protection and reliability to the lowest. 

 

Although the company Heather works for is quite a small business with few staff, the Managing Risks of Hazardous Chemicals in the Workplace Code of Practice July 2012 is still a valuable piece of information.

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labelling-workplace-hazardous-chemicals-cop-2011.pdf

Kate Vagg's insight:

This code of practice is an effective tool in assuring that all chemicals in Heathers' workplace are stored and labelled correctly. In Heathers' workplace and many others in the cleaning industry, cleaning chemicals are generally purchased in bulk and then de cantered into more manageable and ergonomic bottles and containers.  Regulation 335, part 3 of scheduled 9 outlines what is required in regards to labelling when chemicals are transferred from larger containers to smaller containers. It also includes information about the quantities in use and the specific labelling requirements that need to be met. The code of practice also includes a check list for the preparation of a label, which can be used as a reference to ensure chemicals are being labelled as per WHS regulations. 

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