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.
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.