December 2014

This is the final month of the year and we wish you all a happy and safe time during the university shut-down. Please ensure that if you come onto campus that you follow the Working Alone or After Hours Guideline

UNSW Health and Safety are currently working on the plan for 2016, watch this space!

Safety Month 

In 2015 UNSW Health and Safety will introduce a Topic of the Month Calendar. This will focus on a different health and safety topic each month, breaking down the Health and Safety Management System into bite-size pieces. We will be promoting and providing helpful hints and tips each month per topic.

January starts with Housekeeping, you can get a head-start on this by following the Housekeeping hints and tips.

Staff Excellence in Safety

Congratulations to everyone who was nominated for the UNSW Excellence in Work Health and Safety award. 

Dr Justin Nash, Laboratory Manager Prince of Wales Clinical School, UNSW Medicine, for one-off exceptional performance for his contribution toward the implementation and roll-out of SciQuest ERM, hazardous material and dangerous goods management program.

Highly commended:
Student Workshop Team (Heath Pratt, Stuart Gay, Mark Barralet and Marcos de Almeida), School of Engineering and Information Technology, UNSW Canberra, for sustained performance of several years developing a competency-based training and tool control system in the student workshop.

Also nominated were Dr Wendy Swift, Dr Christina Marel, Ms Rachel Sutherland & Associate Professor Frances Kay-Lambkin, National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, UNSW Medicine and Dr Rema Oliver, Prince of Wales Clinical School, UNSW Medicine.

Introducing John

John MacLeod has joined UNSW Health and Safety as Health, Safety and Environment Coordinator for Faculty of Engineering.

John has worked as a health and safety advisor in the nuclear industry in Australia and has a background in construction, mining and biological science. He will be working with Engineering to improve their safety compliance, management systems and implementation of the UNSW Health and Safety Management System. 

Contact John at the Computer Science Engineering (CSE) Building, J17, Ext. 50718, email

Safety issue resolution

If you have a health or safety concern there is an informal and formal route to resolve these. Beginning with the informal route, continue with the next step if unresolved:
  1. Raise the concern with your supervisor (involve your Health and Safety Representative if you wish).
  2. Report the issue in myUNSW hazard/incident reporting system then UNSW (your supervisor) assesses the risk.
  3. If no action/not satisfied, raise the concern with the Head of School or Department Manager.
  4. If no action/not satisfied, contact the Faculty/Division Health and Safety Coordinator.
  5. If no action/not satisfied, follow the formal issue resolution process. 
Formal issue resolution process:
  1. If you have exhausted all avenues to resolve the issue fill in HS338a Unresolved Issue Notification.
  2. All parties meet for formal investigation, use HS003 Incident Investigation Guide.
If the issue is still unresolved either party can contact the regulator (WorkCover NSW or WorkSafe ACT). For full details see HS338 Issue Resolution Procedure.

Health and safety audits 

Each year a number of schools and units in UNSW are subject to a health and safety audit by an external auditor. This is a requirement of our self-insurance licence. Thanks to all schools who participated in this audit and congratulations to those with high marks maintaining a strong Health and Safety Management System. The schools audited in 2014 were:
  • Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences: 96%
  • Prince of Wales Clinical School: 94.44%
  • Biotechnology and Biomolecular Science: 73.5%
  • School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering: 65% (Health and Safety Management System not yet fully established)
For more information see HS308 Audit Procedure

Mercury thermometers

Mercury is a neurotoxin and if a thermometer breaks and spills it poses a risk to the workers and environment. There are safer alternatives available which should be used such as organic-liquid filled, thermistor, thermocouple and platinum resistance thermometers.

If you have or find a mercury thermometer please place it in a robust container and dispose of it as chemical waste.

If you have a spill please follow HS305 Mercury Spills Procedure.

Sit-stand workstation warning

The user of an Ergotron WorkFit-A sit-stand workstation at UNSW discovered that the power cable for the monitor was damaged (photo on the left). It is believed that the power cable got caught in a gap between the monitor and document stand; the regular up-down movement of the unit may have caused this damage to occur over time. 

If you have any sit-stand workstation whereby the cables of the computer are being moved regularly please inspect these and ensure they cannot be trapped or damaged by the movement and use a cable tidy or cable routing system to prevent future damage. For full details see this Safety Alert - Sit-stand workstations.

Lessons learnt

Recently it was reported that a computer on campus started zapping and emitting smoke, this was immediately contained by the workers in the area to prevent further damage. It was found that the computer had been very dusty inside. This follows a previous incident of an actual computer fire.

Dust can build up on internal components of your computer causing them to slow down or seize up, this can prevent it from maintaining optimal operating temperature. To avoid dust getting into your computer:
  • Store all components on your desk, avoid putting it on the floor where dust can easily get inside.
  • Keep your desk space clean and clear of dust.
  • Allow sufficient space for air flow around the air vents.
  • Clean your computer regularly.
Follow these instructions for Keeping your computer clean.

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