NEW WORK HEALTH AND SAFETY REQUIREMENTS FOR QUEENSLAND WORKERS IN REMOTE AND ISOLATED SITUATIONS CAME INTO FORCE ON 1 JANUARY

Many rural workplaces will necessarily involve this kind of work and there is potential for significant harm to workers, particularly those on large properties working in isolation. Significant penalties apply for breaches of the work health and safety obligations so it is important that steps are taken to manage risks and ensure compliance.

The concept of remote or isolated work means work that may be undertaken by a worker, whether an employee or contractor, where the work is isolated from the assistance of other persons (including rescue, medical assistance and the attendance of emergency service workers) because of the location, time or the nature of the work. Within a rural setting, depending on where and how the work is performed, this might include work such as mustering, boundary riding, ploughing, fence repair work, grading and irrigating.

Effective control measures need to be put in place to manage the risks arising from working remotely or in an isolated environment. Measures might include ensuring effective communication with remote or isolated workers through the provision of satellite phones (together with training on how to use them), coupled with a requirement for regular contact to be established. Alternatively it might require redesigning certain tasks so that they are only performed by workers using a buddy system, or are only performed at times when others will be present.