With the increasing heat and raging bushfires across the country, it’s an important time to stop and assess the adequacy of your business’s emergency plans in response to a bushfire.
A bushfire safety plan can be included as part of an overall emergency management plan and understanding how a bushfire behaves is critical to ensuring your employees’ health and safety.
Undertaking an assessment to determine the risk of a bushfire to your operations is the first step in ensuring the safety of your employees and your business.
The MTA can assist you in the development of emergency management and evacuation plans but some items for you to consider as a minimum are listed below. For your risk assessment, it is important to note that a bushfire:
- Burns faster uphill and as it increases its speed it increases its intensity
- Is fuelled by vegetation including grass and dry branches that burn easily and quickly
- Often starts on hot, dry and windy days as hot weather dries out vegetation thereby making it easier to burn
- Is provided with oxygen from wind increasing its intensity
- Can change direction as a result of the wind – this is one of the most dangerous influences on a bushfire’s behaviour
- Workers in buildings near grassland, for example open grassland, parks, paddocks or reserves
- Workers exposed to potential grass fires in rural areas, as these fires can travel up to 25km per hour
- Workers at risk of being in a car during a bushfire, as being in a car where there is a fire in the area can be extremely dangerous and such exposure to radiant heat can result in serious injury or death
You should also take into account that key areas of risk for workers may include:
Your emergency management and evacuation plan should address specific procedures which take into account these variables, in the event your business is subject to a bushfire threat.
The MTA works with a number of members and hosts to assist them in managing their evacuation plans.
If you need any advice or assistance in the creation of an emergency evacuation plan, please contact the MTA’s Workplace Relations team by clicking here.