Regulator issues safety reminder about cyclone contingency plans

WorkSafe WA recently reminded employers that they must have adequate plans in place and provide employees with appropriate training to protect everyone in the workplace when a cyclone threatens.

“The average number of tropical cyclones per season is nine to eleven, and typically around four will cross the coast,” said acting WorkSafe WA Commissioner Sally North.

“WA has experienced numerous cyclones that have caused significant damage and suffering, with hundreds of millions of dollars in damage from the storms over the years.”

She said 11 WA workers have lost their lives as a result of cyclones over the past 29 years – seven as a result of Cyclone Bobby in1995, two in Cyclone George in 2007, one in Cyclone Dominic in 2009 and one as a result of Cyclone Seroja in 2021.

“It’s extremely important that everyone in a workplace – regardless of their employer – knows exactly what he or she needs to do in the event of a cyclone threat. This is particularly important on sites with employees from several companies where a coordinated plan is vital,” said North.

More recently, ex-tropical cyclone Lincoln threatened the northwest coast of the state, and businesses in the affected area were reminded to ensure that cyclone contingency plans have been established and are in operation.

North said fishing vessels need to keep a list of sheltered anchorages and have information on how to use them, along with a specific action plan for each vessel depending on the distance from the cyclone and safe havens.

For the fishing, charter and recreational sectors, the state’s Department of Transport has cyclone contingency plans for regional boat harbours along the WA coast.

“Employers should not leave anything to chance when a cyclone is threatening and must make sure safe work practices are in place well before a cyclone is in their vicinity,” North said.

“Whether the workplace is a fishing vessel or in a land-based location, everyone should be trained in the cyclone contingency plan and follow all instructions given when a cyclone is approaching.”