A safety blitz on the storage of dangerous goods in Melbourne has found that
68 out of 78 sites contravened safe handling requirements.
The blitz on industrial sites is currently being carried out by WorkSafe Victoria and EPA in response to a factory fire in West Footscray last week.
Many of the notices handed out were for issues such as inadequate placarding or labeling, incompatible storage, poorly maintained dangerous goods manifests or a lack of fire protection reports.
WorkSafe Victoria Regional Operations Manager Ian Matthews said while many sites were compliant, it was disappointing that so many notices had been issued.
“So far, most of the sites we have visited have tended to have smaller amounts of chemicals on-site, and the issues have been around the storage and handling of those, rather than the quantities they are storing,” Matthews said.
“While many sites were compliant, sites with poor dangerous good storage practices have attracted multiple notices requiring them to correct various issues.
“The results are disappointing. Any dangerous goods stored or handled incorrectly pose a serious risk to workers and the general public.
“The safety of employees at these sites — and the general public — remains our number one priority.
“Inspectors will continue their work in this area for at least another week.”
EPA Manager Resource Recovery Audit Taskforce Danny Childs said the inspection blitz was a reminder to businesses that regulators were vigilant for non-compliant practices and EPA would continue to hold polluters to account.
“With such a high density of heavy industries in the west, EPA will look for more ways to increase the local community’s protection from environmental harms from risks and hazards,” Childs said.
Childs said EPA had joined WorkSafe on the blitz to ensure potentially dangerous chemicals were being stored correctly.
“EPA’s focus was around ensuring appropriate bunding is in place around chemicals, fuels and other hazardous liquids; and ensuring appropriate stormwater controls were in place as well as keeping an eye out for sites that receive and/or store combustible recyclable waste material,” Childs said.
“The EPA and WorkSafe work very closely together on a range of projects and we want to send a very clear message to all industry that compliance is a safety matter that is taken extremely seriously.”
The inspections will continue into next week, and WorkSafe inspectors and EPA officers will also follow up with the owners and occupiers of sites that were unattended to ensure they too are complying with regulations.
These inspections are in addition to the 500 strategic inspections WorkSafe will conduct across the state this financial year to assess the storage, handling and transport of dangerous goods.
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