Risk assessment and Works Planning:
MCMC aims to minimise risks associated with its works to operators, park users and the environment. MCMC subscribes to a "hierarchy of control" of risks which is consistent with that identified in the Hazardous Substances Code of Practice under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1985 - that substitution, isolation or engineering controls will be the first priority for risk control, followed by administrative controls, and finally personal protective equipment.
Herbicides are used to control weeds at sites managed by MCMC. Consistent with the Hazardous Substances Code of Practice under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1985, MCMC has undertaken a risk assessment of hazardous substances kept and used by MCMC, including the herbicides. Herbicides used are selected to minimise adverse impacts on the environment, the operator and park users.
An example of how MCMC uses isolation to deal with risks is by storing herbicides in a seperate bunded, locked shed. MCMC's spray rig is also kept in a separate, bunded, locked shed.
As an example of engineering controls, MCMC stores its nursery stock in racks above the ground, reducing the need for bending to lift the plant boxes. Similarly, bales of Eucamulch, which can be very heavy when wet, are stored on racks at the same level as the trays of vehicles used to deliver them to site, avoiding the need for lifting. MCMC has commenced a formal risk assessment for manual handling.
Unfortunately, reducing the risk posed at work sites through engineering controls is often not possible, or not desireable because of the environmental impact involved. In some cases steep unstable fill slopes have been earthworked to provide shallower, more stable slopes suitable both for revegetation and for access for the staff required to plant and undertake weed control. This sort of work is counter-productive where there is remnant vegetation present, or an intact natural soil profile. This concern extends to the creation by developers of new fill slopes abutting or on the parkland, and MCMC's Development Guidelines suggest that fill batters should be at a slope of less than 1 in 5 for grassed slopes, or less than 1 in 3 where the slopes will be planted up, or if no alternative is available, benched slopes may be used.
Administrative controls at MCMC include procedures in use, and depend heavily on staff training.
MCMC holds a Commercial Operators Licence for application of herbicides issued by the Department of Primary Industry under the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) Act 1992. Staff are trained in herbicide use, consistent with this licence. MCMC procedures aim for safe cleaning of herbicide gear; first and second rinses of equipment are used on-site (for example on the borders of planting areas) with a trade waste permit for discharge of third rinse water to sewer via a custom-designed installation.
A range of procedures are followed to minimise risks associated with MCMC's works. For example, MCMC undertakes ecological burning at grassland sites within the catchment. A checklist is used to ensure that all safety matters are addressed. Prior to each burn, a safety plan is prepared that identifies how the burn should be carried out, and the maximum weather conditions, behond which the burn should not continue. Parkland Management staff have completed nationally accredited training in wildfire behaviour, wildfire suppression and personal protection.
MCMC undertakes to provide as far as practicable a safe, healthy and risk free work environment for its employees by maintaining the following standards & practices:
- Identification of appropriate safety equipment and its use and maintenance.
- Shared decision-making on purchase of new equipment, different herbicides etc.
- Morning exercises for outdoor staff - for 10 minutes each morning staff stretch and warm up whilst being briefed on the day's tasks.
- Counselling through the Employee Assistance Scheme - MCMC offers three free counselling sessions per staff member per year at a qualified counsellor appointed by MCMC. Sessions are confidential - MCMC is invoiced according to a confidential numbering system. Staff may use the sessions to assist resolution of issues related to both personal and work issues.
- Medical examinations on commencement of employment to identify areas where special precautions might be needed.
- Offering appropriate immunisations i.e. Hepatitis and Tetanus shots for workers.
- Vehicle & equipment checks - checks of vehicles are carried out on a weekly basis using a checklist.
- First aid kits are provided on the premises and in all vehicles, and all staff receive at least level 1 first aid training (if they don't already have this qualification).
- Herbicide spill kits are carried whenever herbicides are used, in case spills need to be mopped up.
Personal Protective Equipment
Appropriate personal protective equipment is issued to staff (see the Personal protective equipment page).
MCMC further manages the financial risk to itself, staff and park users by holding a number of kinds of insurance, including:
- Public and product liability insurance to cover the risk of personal injury or damage to property occuring in connection with the business or arising out of products manufactured, sold, supplied or distributed.
- Professional indemnity insurance to cover legal liability to third parties arising out of a breach of professional duty in connection with the business, including libel and slander, loss of documents, fraud and dishonesty and automatic re-instatement.
- Business insurance to cover the risk of Fire and extraneous perils, business interruption, burglary of contents including computers, loss of money in transit, loss of money on premises.
- Personal Accident insurance to cover committee members and volunteers whilst engaged in any activity directly or indirectly connected with or on behalf of the Committee.
- Motor Vehicle insurance to cover the risk of loss or damage to any vehicle and third party damage.
- General Property insurance to cover the risk of fire, theft and accidental and malicious damage to equipment when away from MCMC's depot.
- Workcover insurance to cover the risk of liability arising out of injury of MCMC staff.
MCMC's insurances cost approximately $8000 per annum excluding Workcover which costs approximately $23,000 annually.