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Department of Geography Health and Safety Procedures

Introduction

  1. The Department of Geography is committed to providing and maintaining a workplace which is safe, where risks to the health of it's employees, students and visitors are minimized, and to promote good practice in health and safety matters.
  2. The Head of Department has primary responsibility for ensuring the health and safety of all staff within the department and to any students, visitors or other persons affected by the actions of the department. The HoD may delegate some of this responsibility to nominated staff and through them to academic supervisors and teaching staff.
  3. The formulation and review of the Departmental Health and Safety policy and monitoring of health and safety requirements, implementation and performance is the responsibility of the Departmental Health and Safety Committee.
  4. The Departmental Health and Safety Officer is Dr Sarah Mager (sarah.mager@otago.ac.nz). Her responsibilities include maintaining the departmental Hazard Register, which identifies hazards within the department, and reports directly to the HoD and to the University Health and Safety team. Sarah represents the department on Health and Safety committees etc. She is also responsible for ensuring that any accidents that do happen within the department (or during departmental activities) are reported.
  5. The departmental Laboratory Manager is Julie Clark (julie.clark@otago.ac.nz). She oversees the use of laboratory areas, provides appropriate training to all staff and students who wish to use the laboratory, maintains a register of trained users and checks that individual laboratory supervisors are maintaining correct Health and Safety procedures within their respective areas.
  6. Individual laboratory and workshop areas have designated supervisors. These supervisors are required to provide training as appropriate for all users of these areas, to ensure that correct Health and Safety procedures are in place and are followed.
  7. Some areas are designated as "HSNO Exempt Laboratories". These come under strict operational guidelines which must be followed. Other areas are designated workshop areas and again strict operational procedures are in place. Other areas designated teaching have fewer specific restrictions other than general care and attention. The HSNO Exempt Laboratory is designated as a "CLOSED FOOTWEAR AREA" and the wearing of open-toed footwear such as jandals or sandals in this area is not permitted.

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General

  1. Comprehensive fire and emergency procedures are in place throughout the department. All areas of the department will have designated Fire Wardens who will ensure the rapid and complete evacuation of the building in any emergency and monitor the condition of local fire escape routes and fire equipment. The fire alarm systems within the Richardson Building are regularly tested and an evacuation drill is undertaken twice annually.
  2. First Aid: The department will provide an adequate number of suitable qualified first aiders and sufficient first aid equipment and supplies, taking into account where specific hazards exist.
  3. The Health and Safety Officer will ensure that all new staff (temporary, permanent, part or full time) and visitors undergo an induction process that includes an explanation of the Departmental Health and Safety policy, specific instructions such as fire precautions and evacuation procedures, the location of first aid facilities, and all safety arrangements that are relevant to the work of the new employee/visitor. All new staff will be given a copy of the Departmental Health and Safety policy.
  4. All electrical appliances will be inspected at regular intervals by a competent person (see HS/N2S3760:2003) or registered electrician as required by the University Health and Safety regulations. No interference with or rewiring of any electrical appliance other than by a registered electrician is permitted. No unauthorized electrical appliance may be connected to the departmental electrical supply.

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Health and Safety Plan

It is a requirement of the Department that people undertaking fieldwork submit a Health and Safety plan in electronic form to HandS@geography.otago.ac.nz well before embarking on fieldwork.

Health and Safety Plan

Health and Safety Plan for 'Short Duration' Field Trip can be downloaded as a WORD document or as a PDF document.

Health and Safety Plan for 'Field Work' can be downloaded as a WORD document or as a PDF document.

The following is a quick overview of what goes into constructing a Health and Safety Plan. This need not be a lengthy document but the aim is to get researchers to consider what hazards may exist while carrying out fieldwork and how these hazards might be managed. To do this we need to know:

  • The timeframe within which the fieldwork is to take place.
  • Where the fieldwork is to take place.
  • Contacts: names and phone numbers of those who will be associated with your research, including your accommodation, your cell phone number if you have one, etc.
  • A list identifying any potential hazards.
  • An assessment of any identified hazard's significance (risk analysis). Not all hazards identified will carry a high risk and the use of 'common sense' should minimise any risk.
  • However, for those hazards which are identified as significant (i.e. having a high risk) a strategy is required stating how such hazards might be eliminated, isolated or at least minimised. Note that all potential hazards should be considered in the first instance irrespective of the perceived level of risk.
  • A plan of action in the advent of an accident. This is not just using your cell phone to call for help as this may not be possible. Leave details with someone of when to expect you back and what to do in the situation you have not returned, e.g. contact emergency services.
  • Please inform Sarah Mager of your return by email.

 
If you have any enquiries please contact Dr Sarah Mager

Office: Richardson 4.C.23
Telephone: 03 479 4222
Email: sarah.mager@otago.ac.nz


Hazardous Substance and HSNO Exempt Laboratories

  1. Many common laboratory chemicals are considered ‘Hazardous Substances’, under New Zealand legislation and the use of these is strictly regulated by the HSNO (Hazardous Substances and New Organisms) Act (1996) and associated regulations, which are administered by ERMA (The Environmental Risk Management Authority).
  2. A specific part of this legislation, the ‘Hazardous Substance (Exempt Laboratories) Regulations (2001)’, covers the small-scale use of hazardous substances in research and teaching. Laboratories that operate under this legislation are designated ‘HSNO Exempt Laboratories’.
  3. All work in these laboratories must be carried out in accordance with the requirements of the ERMA approved ‘Code of Practice for CRI and University Exempt Laboratories’. Each laboratory has a Supervisor who oversees use of the laboratory, provides appropriate training to all staff and students who wish to use the laboratory, and maintains a register of trained users. Each supervisor is responsible for ensuring the correct recording, usage and disposal of chemicals within the laboratory. Access by non-registered personnel is not permitted except for the purposes of training or while accompanying the supervisor. No children are allowed in Exempt Laboratories except as part of an instructional group under close supervision and with the Laboratory Supervisor present. The laboratories must be kept secure and not left open after-hours. After-hours access is restricted to registered graduate students and staff.

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Supervised Field Classes

  1. For each field class, or group of related field classes, the staff members responsible will draw up a Health and Safety plan prior to the field class. This will identify likely hazards and provide procedures for minimizing risk. The plan will be approved by the Health and Safety Officer and circulated to all student participants before departure. All participants will be required to sign a form to say that they have been provided with the plan, have read and understood it.
  2. Only authorised University vehicles (including vehicles hired by the University from a legitimate provider) will be used for formal field classes. Private vehicles will not be used. If students wish to use their vehicle to travel to and from a field class, they must get approval from the Health and Safety Officer and sign a form to say that they will be responsible for making their own way to and from the field class.
  3. All drivers of University vehicles must be approved by the Head of Department and/or by the Health and Safety Officer and they must have a valid and current drivers licence.
  4. First aid kits and emergency kits will be carried in vehicles, and a Departmental cell-phone will be available where applicable.
  5. Alcohol MUST NOT be consumed during field classes and under no circumstances must alcohol be consumed in vehicles.

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Independent fieldwork at graduate level

  1. They key issue in fieldwork during graduate research or by staff is to discuss thoroughly the logistics of proposed fieldwork with colleagues or supervisors and to identify any possible hazards and to develop mitigation procedures and fieldwork planning to minimize risk.
  2. Both staff and students must make sure they and their companions have the necessary skills to handle the expected conditions.
  3. A Health and Safety Plan must be completed and sent to the Health and Safety Officer before leaving for each period of fieldwork. In all fieldwork, notification of planned work and routes must be given to a suitable person each day, and that person notified when the day's work is completed. During any work in remote areas where daily contact with others is difficult, a daily plan must be left a base or in a vehicle, and some form of communication such as an emergency beacon or mountain radio carried. Where fieldwork is in remote areas, a field assistant must be taken.

Things to think about when planning a research trip

  • All researchers must make sure they carry adequate equipment and clothing for the fieldwork they are undertaking, and not put themselves into hazardous situations beyond their level of skill. In some instances where work in a particular area is essential, the Department will arrange for extra training or provision of an experience field assistant if the researcher lacks this.
  • Graduate students and staff may use Departmental vehicles (or hired vehicles) for fieldwork. They must have a valid and current driver's and sufficient experience for the conditions, and satisfy their supervisor and the Health and Safety Officer (HSO) of this. They should sign a form provided by the HSO providing details of their licence, etc., and accepting conditions for use of University vehicles. If they choose to use their own vehicle, they must sign a form indicating this is their choice, and accepting responsibility for its operation.

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