Confined spaces on a dairy farm can be dangerous - their hazards are usually hidden and can cause serious injury or death without warning. Yet through employing farm safety protocols there are ways of eliminating confined space hazards.
When working on a farm it is vital to determine if any work areas may be classed as a confined space. All the different jobs on the dairy, and any possible dangers of confined spaces, should be considered.
By law, the person conducting the business in any workplace with an area defined as a 'confined space' must comply with strict safety management and legal obligations. Work Health and Safety regulations require employers to identify hazardous areas in a 'Register of Confined Spaces'. If a potential hazard is registered, methods to assess and manage the risk must be developed and implemented on the farm. Some examples of risk management include:
*put up signage on all confined spaces: Danger Confined Space Entry by Permit Only;
*always have a written entry permit if someone has to enter the space;
*never allow anyone to work in a confined space without having a responsible second (standby) person present. This needs to be a person who is in constant communication, who can see what the person in the space is doing and someone who is capable of implementing emergency procedures in case of collapse or injury within the space.
*set up and rehearse the emergency rescue procedure to be used;
*provide information, instruction and training for everyone involved in entering a confined space or 'standing by' (by law, the person conducting the business is responsible for all people involved ù staff and contractors);
*ensure a safe atmosphere, for example, set up ventilation and lock access hatches open;
*provide the safety equipment required such as gas-testing equipment, respirators and retrieval systems and ensure that they are in good working order and used appropriately.
Confined spaces occur where there is:
*restricted entry or exit; or
*hazardous atmosphere, e.g. harmful level of chemical or contaminant or unsafe oxygen level; or
*risk of engulfment, e.g. by grain, pellets or liquid.
On dairy farms confined spaces can include milk vats or silos, grain silos, mixing wagons, tanks, effluent pits, wells, trenches, tunnels, and other enclosed or partially enclosed spaces.
The characteristics and risks of entry into each structure must be assessed - this is recorded in a Register of Confined Spaces on the farm. In addition, the risks of each job must be assessed and managed - this is recorded in the Entry Permit for each job.
Train: Confined spaces training is available through the National Centre for Dairy Education (NCDE), for more information contact the local Regional Development Program (RDP).
Visit: Safe Work Australia - Confined Spaces - Code of Practice at website http://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/sites/swa/about/publications/pages/confined-spaces-cop.
Visit: WorkSafe Victoria Guidance - Confined Space Compliance Code at website "https://www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/ forms-and-publications/forms-and- publications/confined-spaces-comp liance-code">https://www.worksafe .vic.gov.au/forms-and-publication s/forms-and-publications/confined -spaces-compliance-code.
Resources: Dairy Australia's 30 Minute Safety Scan has been developed to help reduce the risks on a farm. Safety Scan sheets can be completed by any farm employee and are available on hazard areas including confined spaces, electrics, quad bikes, tractors, etc. To print a copy of the Safety Scan sheets, visit website www.thepeopleindairy.org.au/LiteratureRetrieve.aspx?ID=151080.