Red Hot Hazards
The first Bushfire Warning of the season was issued just days into Spring – almost a month ahead of time thanks to one of the hottest winters on record.
The lengthy dry spell that has left large parts of the country parched makes the risk of bushfire that much greater.
It’s crucial organisations prepare themselves for such an emergency, so let’s take a look at what you need to do.
BEFORE A BUSHFIRE
- Get friendly. First and foremost, get to know your local fire brigade. They can give you advice on how to protect your staff and offices, before and during a fire. Both the rural and urban fire services offer training for businesses. The NSW fire service also has some great tips for workplaces on its website.
- Get organised. Create an evacuation plan. This includes consulting with your employees and appointing a team of leaders to take charge, make decisions and lead any responses to bushfire threat. Make sure everyone is clear as to what their roles are.
- Get gabby. Spread the word. Make sure staff know what the plan is. Chat to them, put up posters, hold a meeting, conduct a practice run. Do whatever you need to do to make sure employees are familiar with your Bushfire Response.
DURING A BUSHFIRE
In the unlucky event of a fire, here are some of the things you need to think about as employers:
Are your employees working in a fire prone area? If so;
- Contact them immediately to determine the risk to their safety
- If that risk is high, instigate your Evacuation Plan.
- Don’t forget to check on staff who travel as part of their work. Ensure they are not in fire prone places, and get them to leave immediately if they are.
What leave options are available if a workplace needs to close due to bushfires?
There are several different options available but they can vary from case to case even within the same organisation. We recommend you contact us at CCER to specifically determine what’s best for your employees.
Don’t forget! Employees can take community service leave during a bushfire if they are part of a recognised volunteer emergency service, such as the Rural Fire Service and the SES. This is unpaid and extends to casual staff too. Employees can take community service leave while they are assisting with the emergency, traveling to or from it, or recuperating afterwards.
AFTER A BUSHFIRE
If the worst happens and a fire sweeps through your workplace, there are still hazards you have to consider even after the blaze is extinguished. Property damage can present all sorts of risks. You need to know when it is safe to enter the premises and what dangers might still be present, such as live electrical wires or asbestos exposure.
SafeWork NSW has a great fact sheet that outlines what actions to take and how. You can find this here.
A sunburnt country is one thing, a fire-ravaged one is another. Don’t be caught off guard as we enter another bushfire season. If you’d like more information or need advice, please don’t hesitate to contact CCER. You can reach us on (02) 9390 5255 or firstname.lastname@example.org.