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July 22, 2010
07/10 ISSUE 67
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Seaworthy is produced by the Directorate of Navy Safety Systems in the interests of promoting
safety in the Navy. The contents do not necessarily reflect Service policy and, unless stated
otherwise, should not be construed as orders, instructions or directives -- KEEP NAVY SAFE.
WITH such a large workload, diverse
work activities and specialised
requirements, there can -- at times --
be a need for Navy members to work
on their own.
In most cases this is avoided but
with minimum manning, sometimes
this is the only option to get the
required work done in time. Working
alone, however, exposes the member to
greater risks and potential for an inci-
dent than when working with others.
Defence has an obligation to pro-
vide a safe and healthy workplace.
This obligation includes identifying
hazards of working alone, assessing
the risks involved, and putting meas-
ures in place to eliminate or control
There is increased risk when work-
ing alone that may include, but is not
limited to, lack of assistance or aid in
the following situations:
Accidents or emergencies arising
out of the work.
Threat of violence.
Manual handling (lifting or moving
To address problems that arise from
working alone, a risk assessment must
be carried out to address, as a mini-
mum, the following questions:
Can one person adequately control
the risks associated with the job?
Does the workplace present a spe-
cial risk to the isolated member?
Is the access and egress route ade-
quate for the member?
Can all plant, substances and goods
involved be safely handled by one
person, or is more than one person
needed to operate essential controls
for the safe running of equipment?
Is the lone member fit and qualified
to do the work?
Is additional training required?
How will the lone member be
What communication plans are in
place if the individual becomes ill,
has an accident, or experiences an
Administrative controls may
include procedures to:
Enable employees working alone to
provide details of their:
Itinerary and work schedule;
Expected time of arrival and
Contact names and telephone
Provide a system for the lone
worker to report in at regular inter-
vals, and procedures for raising the
alarm if this does not occur, and the
worker cannot be contacted.
If the risk assessment shows that it
is not possible for the work to be done
safely by a lone worker, arrangements
for providing help or back up must be
put in place.
PEOPLE can become over-confident
with their abilities and, with time and
experience, may develop shortcuts in
Sometimes this complacency
results in them being considered
resourceful, because they get the diffi-
cult jobs done quickly. Quite possibly
though, these people may be highly
valued for the very reasons that put
themselves and others at risk.
How often have you witnessed dan-
gerous occurrences in your workplace
and not reported it? How often have
you gone on auto-pilot when perform-
ing your job? Have you done your job
that way a thousand times before?
If so, then you may be subject to a
complacent attitude and oblivious to
the potential dangers surrounding you.
So what is complacency?
Complacency is an attitude that deter-
mines how we respond to given situ-
ations. It occurs because our brains
are designed to automate repetitive or
When exposed to repeated situa-
tions (even dangerous ones), our
awareness, defence mechanisms and
alertness begin to relax.
Those who are regularly exposed
to the same potentially dangerous cir-
cumstances, for example, replenish-
ments at sea, might develop a tendency
to turn off and become lackadaisical
towards the evolution.
They still function normally, but
their functions become more habitu-
al the longer they are exposed to the
situation without any form of incident
occurring. We, Navy, operate in an
inherently dangerous environment and
we must continue to practice a disci-
plined approach towards our work to
ensure it remains as safe as possible.
Some facts on complacency:
A complacent attitude is contagious
and that can become extremely
Fatigue regularly contributes
towards complacent related inju-
ries. Just because you are tired
doesn't give you the excuse to take
a short cut.
Discipline is a tool that, when
adopted along with safe operating
procedures, will generally contrib-
ute towards a safe working environ-
Don't assume others will always be
there looking out for you. You need
to take as much responsibility as
your supervisor when in the work-
Lessons learnt from mistakes,
along with an awareness program,
will assist in reducing complacen-
cy- related injuries.
It makes no difference how long
you have worked in the same job and
how long you have done it in the same
way. It may be just that very moment
that complacency or carelessness sets
in that the incident may occur.
It is important to take time to pre-
view our tasks and give them our full
attention; after all, any task has the
potential to be dangerous.
We don't have to wait for an acci-
dent or a dangerous occurrence before
we investigate a better way of doing
Before you start a task, briefly stop
and think about how you're going to
achieve it? Will it be the safest option?
Do standing risk profiles and/or stand-
ard operating procedures need to be
We identify risks and then manage
them to avoid accidents. Identify and
eliminate complacency, replace it with
an emphasis on alertness, discipline,
hazard identification and accident pre-
The first step in preventing compla-
cency rests with you. So what are you
going to do about it?
IN THE Navy we have tasks
to perform that require us
to wear Personal Protective
Equipment (PPE), for the sake
of our health and safety.
However, PPE is often
uncomfortable to wear, may
restrict movement, will give the
necessary protection only when
worn 100 per cent of the time
and, in some circumstances,
may be a hazard in itself.
Navy recognises that PPE is
not the optimum way of provid-
ing protection from occupational
injury or illness, however, in cer-
tain work environments and for
certain tasks and work situations
it is currently the only method of
reducing risk. PPE must be worn
while other more preferred meth-
ods of protecting sailors from
occupational hazards are being
identified, designed and put in
The Navy aligns with the fol-
lowing widely accepted methods
of protection from occupational
hazards. In priority order these
Complete elimination of the
Substitution of the hazard.
Isolation of the hazard.
Navy is responsible for ensur-
ing that appropriate PPE is
provided, appropriate training in
correct fitting and use is given,
and that personnel are educated
in the consequences of non-use.
The individual is responsible for
ensuring that PPE is provided
and is used for its designated
purpose, is not modified in any
way, and that the PPE is worn
correctly for the full period of
exposure to the hazard.
Navy's policy for the use of
PPE is that it is only to be used
when all of the more desirable
methods of protecting personnel
from occupational hazards have
either been shown to be imprac-
tical, or are being investigated, or
The standard and quality of
PPE issued for a particular task
must be adequate to protect the
wearer from the known or pos-
The standard and quality of
PPE provided will be appropri-
ate to the task and in line with
the latest information, technol-
ogy and equipment available in
All items of PPE must bear
the Standards Association of
Australia (SAA) Standards Mark
or be certified by another rec-
ognised testing authority, for
example, the NSW Department
of Industrial Relations and
Employment. In the absence of
any certification, user trials must
be conducted before items are
approved for use.
All PPE procured is to be
clearly marked and provided with
adequate user and maintenance
instructions written in simple
terms. Where applicable, PPE
must be clearly marked with its
protection factor or sound level
attenuation in units to which both
supervisor and user can relate.
The system for reporting defective
PPE is via form AC446 -- Report on
Defective or Unsatisfactory Materiel --
Land (RODUM) Stock No 7530-66-139-
3243, as well as an OHSIR in accord-
ance with ABR 6303.
Use protection on the job
Managing risk when working alone
INSIDIOUS DANGER: Complacency can take root in any well-practiced,
repetitive or routine task -- even hazardous ones.
Photo: ABIS Andrew Dakin
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