December 2016

It is getting close to the end of year shut-down, please ensure that if you are coming to site that you have your after-hours/lone working buddy arrangements in place, as per our November article.

Have a happy and safe New Year!

Staff excellence

Congratulations to everyone who was nominated for the UNSW Excellence in Work Health and Safety award. The joint winners were: Paul Gwynne from School of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Theresa Kahwati from School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences (pictured). They were awarded for their outstanding contribution towards the achievement of 91% in the SafeWork NSW Health and Safety Self-Insurance Licence Audit.

Highly commended was Denis Cooper from Art and Design for his sustained commitment and highly effective proactive approach to ensure a safe working and learning environment.

Safety Alert: Powerboard

A member of staff recently received a small electrical shock when pressing the on/off illuminated switch of a powerboard (Sansai brand). It was found that the switch was cracked exposing a live wire. Please check if you have any Sansai powerboards in the workplace, carefully inspect for flaws and dispose of them if necessary. It was also found that another powerboard with an illuminated on/off switch had the same design flaw. Therefore carefully inspect all powerboards with an illuminated on/off switch for cracks or faults and dispose if necessary. See related Safety Alert for more details.

Wellbeing survey

Help shape the Wellbeing Program at UNSW!

UNSW Safety and Sustainability is conducting a survey to help in the development and planning of the Wellbeing Program at UNSW in 2017. Over 280 staff have already taken part. Have your say before the survey closes on 16th December.

Access: Wellbeing Program Survey.

GHS final reminder

The Globally Harmonised System (GHS) of classification and labelling of chemicals will be adopted in Australia from 1 January 2017. Any hazardous chemicals you purchase after this date must have a GHS-compliant label on the container.

Recently it has been agreed by the regulators that chemicals manufactured prior to 1 January 2017 do not need to have GHS-compliant label. See Safe Work Australia news article. However, in the interest of good practice we encourage all areas to work towards having all chemicals with either a GHS label (red diamond) or NOHSC label. For information about labelling refer to HS429 Labelling of Hazardous Chemicals Guideline.

End-of-year housekeeping

This time of year is a great opportunity to do an office, laboratory and workshop tidy-up. Please make sure you make the waste collection deadlines:

Biological waste -Tuesday 20 December 2016.
Chemical waste - Thursday 22 December 2016.

Ensure you complete the HS015 Biological Waste Inventory Form and/or HS014 Chemical Waste Inventory Form and submit to Facilities Management (FM) well in advance. There is an exemption in place for the upper campus biological waste store which will continue to be collected (only trained persons have access to this store) .

During the shut-down period paper waste will be collected on 24,27 and 31 December. General waste will continue to be collected. Hard waste and skips bins will only be serviced upon request. Public Holiday exemptions are in place.

New chemical waste bins

The UNSW chemical waste contractor, Toxfree, are providing new design chemical waste bins to UNSW for collection of solid chemical waste. The new bins are of two sizes 240L and 660L. The bins are yellow with orange lids and have the Toxfree label on them, see picture on the left. Solid chemical waste collected in smaller containers inside the laboratories is transferred into these larger waste bins for collection by Toxfree who take them off site for appropriate disposal. These replace the old waste bins supplied by Toxfree. 

Transport around campus

Bikes, skateboards and non-motorised scooters can be used to move around campus. However please bear in mind:
  • Wear protective equipment (such as helmet). UNSW internal roads are governed by national road rules.
  • Avoid areas with parked cars, curbs, poles, traffic and other moving hazards.
  • Do not exceed the campus 10km/h speed limit.
  • Reduce speed when the ground is wet.
  • Always follow the manufacturer's instructions.
There conveyances must not be ridden inside UNSW buildings. Internal corridors are designed for foot traffic, standard movement is at a walking pace and there may be poor visibility when exiting from rooms into corridors. Only NSW registered motorised mobility scooters and wheelchairs are permitted to be ridden indoors.

Lessons learnt

Recently a pyrophoric chemical was purchased and used without the hazards and risks being fully understood. A student requested the chemical but didn't carefully read the Safety Data Sheet. It was interpreted to be "not dangerous" on the risk management form, but was in fact a spontaneously flammable chemical. It was being handled without proper safety controls in place. The approval process lacked rigour especially since this was a new chemical for the workgroup. New chemicals much undergo a detailed review and advice sought from experienced users. Supervisors must only approve new substances when they are certain of the risk management in place. The UNSW TechNet forum can be utilised to seek experienced users in these cases. 

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