When working in remote areas gets ugly

by Safety Nerd on March 3, 2015

in Road Safety



When working in remote areas gets ugly

Originally published by Sarah Jane here: http://www.riskologyconsulting.com.au

Working in remote areas can be lonely at times, but a lot can happen, when you’re alone in a tin box with four wheels under you travelling at over 100km per hour, in the blink of an eye.

If you have employees driving long distances to earn a crust, are there plans in place to make sure they are safe?

When I first became a Safety Manager, I was a city slicker and if I was travelling to the remote areas I was usually asleep on the passenger side in holiday mode during annual leave. Part of my job then changed and I had to visit some of the remote office locations and I found myself driving long distances in my car. I had no idea about the ‘grey hour’ where it’s halfway between day and night and the wildlife go wild. I didn’t know that if you saw an animal dash across the road, not to slam your breaks on, as your bonnet then acts as a scoop.

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I was one of those people that thought that because I had been driving for years I knew what I was doing, in any scenario. Even working in safety I didn’t think anything of it as it wasn’t an area I was specialised in early on in my career. The risk assessment only covered off on sales people and their cargo barriers and driving hours, as head office people rarely travelled the distance to the remote offices, so the risk was overlooked.

I’ve since moved out of the big smoke and I hear all the time from friends hit animals, and I’ve come to understand the huge damage hitting an animal can do, and the risk of what could go wrong if it hits your windscreen.

Not only is hitting animals a real risk, you are then broken down on the side of the road, sometimes during that dangerous grey hour.

Do you flag down Ivan Milat, or stay in your vehicle and call the emergency services?

Are you armed with the orange traffic triangles that you can set up and a fluoro vest so people can see you?

What happens if you really are in the middle of nowhere, do you have water and food available in your car?

Everyone knows not to wander off to find help don’t they? Surely people don’t still do this … what about the 20-year-old office worker, first time travelling alone to a remote office, would they know? (no offence to the 20-year-olds!).

A worker was recently driving to work in central west NSW, it was dawn and he was coming over a crest. He felt the car slow down a little as it came over the crest, only to be horrified that a flock of 40 sheep were also crossing the road at that same time. Sadly he hit 35 of them and they didn’t survive.

It happens. Think about the amount of road kill you see on country roads animals get hit. The question is – are your employees aware of the risks of outback driving and are they armed with the driving skills and the right vehicle to handle the jungle out there and do they know what to do when all hell breaks loose?

If you would like some assistance reviewing your risk assessments for employees working in, and travelling to, remote areas, please get in touch.

Please be warned that some readers may be uncomfortable with the graphic nature of some of the images below.

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Safety Nerd

Owner and Principal Consultant at Riskology
I’ve been in safety my whole career. Well nearly my whole career, I started off as a secretary for a recruitment company, then dabbled in HR whilst stumbling onto safety, which I fell head over heels ….literally in love (I know safety nerd alert) with safety after reading the book Lessons from Longford by Anthony Hopkins at the age of 19 and haven’t looked back since. I had a few friends that had been permanently injured in their early 20s and my Dad nearly lost his foot in a workplace accident when I was a twinkle in his eye and the Lessons from Longford book made so much sense to me. I started my life in safety knee high to a grasshopper working for Aristocrat in the 90’s, a gaming machine company in Sydney where I introduced national safety handbooks, alerts, industry focus groups and decided this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life; during this time I also headed off to Uni and completed an MBA specialising in industrial relations, the closest qualification at the time related to safety, since then there’s been an explosion of courses so I then got my teeth into a masters of safety. I then went onto a safety role at Coca Cola Amatil and tackled the logistics of ensuring multiple sites were compliant from call centres to sales to manufacturing workers. This was an interesting time when new manufacturing plants were opening and becoming fully automated, never a dull moment in the world of safety. I’m a bit of a car buff so then moved into a safety role at Inchcape, you know the guys that own Subaru. I was looking after the safety for 45 sites and came up with some great strategies to get them all confident and running with safety. After saving my employers in total over $1.5million in workers comp and setting up some great strategies I decided to jump ship and moved away from the big smoke for love. That was a couple of years ago now and that’s when Riskology was born. I love helping other businesses create safer workplaces helping them through the minefield of legislation with simple easy solutions with the end goal of making workplaces safer. The safety industry has changed significantly in recent years, with new legislation and tougher penalties. Small businesses are expected to comply just as much as large businesses, that’s where I come in, helping to bridge the gap and cut through the jargon. Safety doesn’t have to be the elephant in the room, good safety practices is good for business. Qualifications Master’s degree in Occupational Health and Safety Master’s degree in Business Industrial Relations Accredited Lead Auditor Graduate Certificate Health and Safety Management Systems Cert IV – Workplace Training, OHS, HR(and Dip), Secretarial

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