If you are a PCBU, you must eliminate risks in the workplace, or if that is not reasonably practicable, minimise the risks as is reasonably practicable.
This includes the risk of bushfires. Bushfires occur any time of year but most likely in the current season now, during warmer weather and within the local bushfire season.
Conducting a risk assessment for bush fires will assist in:
identifying hazards that impact the workplace
assessing the risks, and
determining the most effective control measures
All states and territories have now implemented the:
Australian Fire Danger Rating System (AFDRS), which provides information about the risks of bushfires in the local area, and
Australian Warning System (AWS), which provides warnings during emergencies such as bushfires.
The AFDRS and AWS can be useful resources when conducting your risk assessment for bushfires.
What should you do before a fire danger rating is issued?
Fire danger ratings are used to indicate the level of risk and the actions you need to take to protect yourself and your workplace from bushfires. Depending on the rating, you may need to activate your emergency plan, relocate to a safer place, or evacuate immediately.
You should have a clear and up-to-date emergency plan for your workplace that covers the following aspects:
How to monitor fire danger ratings and fire warnings
How to identify and reduce fire hazards and risks
How to communicate with your workers, clients, and authorities
How to evacuate or shelter in place safely and effectively
How to provide first aid and mental health support
How to review and improve your plan after an incident
What should you do when a fire danger rating is issued?
You should follow the advice of your local fire authority and take the appropriate actions based on the rating. Here is a summary of what each rating means and what you should do:
Low-moderate or high: Monitor the situation and review your emergency plan. Be ready to act if the situation changes.
Very high or severe: Activate your emergency plan and relocate to a safer place if possible. Only stay if your workplace is well prepared and you can actively defend it.
Extreme: Relocate to a safer place as soon as possible. Do not stay under any circumstances, as your workplace will not be safe.
Catastrophic: Evacuate immediately. Do not wait for a fire warning, as you will not have time to escape. Your workplace will not be safe.
Where can you find more information and resources?
For more information read the new information sheet and resources on how to prepare your workplace for fire emergencies, visit the following websites:
Safe Work Australia: Provides guidance on work health and safety and workers’ compensation during bushfires
Bushfire CRC: Provides research and education on bushfire prevention, management, and recovery
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