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These guidelines cover minor emergencies where a work area may become unsafe due to flooding, structural failure, sewerage overflow, structural collapse or similar circumstances.
In this type of situation, the first person on site needs to make a judgment about the current safety of the site and take appropriate action. If there are safety concerns then the site must be secured to prevent entry to the area. The site must be then securely handed over to the relevant faculty or division until it is declared safe.
In this type of incident there can be numerous parties involved including local staff and supervisors, security officers, Facilities Management Services and Information Technology Services staff, local OHS representative and University OHS officers. Each party has differing concerns and there can be uncertainty about who is responsible for determining the safety of the situation and therefore determining whether staff and students should be moved out or prevented from entering the area.
Whoever arrives first on the scene has to use their best judgment about the safety of themselves and anyone else present. If there is uncertainty, they should advise everyone to leave the area, cordon off the area as best they can and report the situation to the appropriate division. In many cases this will be Facilities Management Services (Geelong: (03) 522 72408, Melbourne: (03) 924 46246, Warrnambool: (03) 556 33103). It is then Facilities Management Services Division’s responsibility to assess the situation, make it safe or effectively cordon off/secure the area to prevent others from entering. This may involve putting up signage, changing locks, putting up barriers and so on. If staff or students refuse to leave the area, this should be reported to Security.
To assist in making determinations about the safety of an area local staff may seek the advice of a local OHS representative. Under the OHS Act, an OHS representative can stop a process or close an area on safety grounds until professional advice is sought. Staff or divisions may also seek advice from the OHS Unit on (03) 522 72869 (Geelong / Warrnambool) (03) 924 68175 (Melbourne).
Only when all safety issues or concerns have been addressed should the site be reopened to staff or students. If, for various reasons, the site needs to pass through the hands of various faculties or divisions before it is declared safe, then the handover needs to be explicit and not based on the assumption that the other area is aware of the problem or that local management “will work it out”. If for example where there is a flood and there are concerns about wet computer equipment, then it is Facilities Management Services's responsibility to hand over a secure site to the custody of Information Technology Services.
If Facilities Management Services, Information Technology Services or another faculty or division decide the area is unsafe then this must be explicitly communicated to the local manager. The local manager is responsible for advising their staff and students of this and taking whatever other actions are necessary to ensure the security of the site is respected. This may, for example, involve asking that locks be changed temporarily or keys be handed in. Local management is responsible for taking any disciplinary action where individuals willfully ignore access restrictions.
Although there is sometimes reluctance to take responsibility in these situations, each individual has a responsibility to ensure others are not put at risk. Where an unsafe situation is identified the individual on site must ensure the site is secure until it is handed over to the next party who then has this responsibility. This needs to be repeated until the site is safe again.