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Flood safety caution for rural workers

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28 Feb 2013

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland are urging workers in rural areas to work safely during the wet season, which still has a few months still to go.

There are many unique risks for rural workers that their city cousins never have to face in offices or factories – not least from snakes and other animals displaced by flood water. Remember to check in and under objects before you try to move them.

Maintain good hygiene – exposure to flooded environments increases the chance of skin infections, diarrhoea and more serious diseases such as leptospirosis and melioidosis.

Several work-caused melioidosis fatalities have occurred in Queensland in recent years. The bacteria that cause melioidosis usually live below the soil surface but are found in mud and surface water after heavy rainfall. It can present in a number of different ways including skin ulcers and abscesses, abscesses of internal organs, pneumonia and/or septicaemia (blood infection).

Take a few basic precautions to reduce the risk of infection:

  • cover cuts, abrasions and sores with a water-resistant dressing
  • wear water-resistant or enclosed footwear when working or walking in wet or muddy areas 
  • wear protective gloves if handling soil, mud or surface water
  • wash thoroughly after contact with soil and muddy water
  • clean wounds and abrasions.

Quad bikes are extremely useful for the clean up task, but make sure you wear a helmet and be aware that mud and water may be concealing obstacles. Check your route is clear before you attempt to cross any flooded or muddy terrain. Children under 16 are not allowed to ride adult quad bikes and you should never carry more passengers than the vehicle is designed for.

When operating any machinery in the wet, consider the changed ground conditions which could increase the risk of roll over, bogging or loss of stability. Only let workers with the appropriate skills operate plant and equipment such as chainsaws, tractors or post drivers.

Last updated
23 March 2014

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