HPI alert - Brushcutter sparks bushfire (January 2017)

HPI Alert #495

Date of Event: 25 January 2017

Organisational Factors

  • Work not identified as ‘Hot Work’ so OSH-134 not implemented – e.g. fire watch
  • Risk identified in SWMS but control to prevent sparks was inadequate
  • Maintenance schedule for vegetation clearing (3 yearly) not followed

Absent/Failed Defenses

  • Alternative equipment should have been used for clearing thick vegetation
  • Crew unable to contain the fire
  • Crew did not consider blocked route (by fire) in Safe Job Plan.

Task/Environmental Conditions

  • Three work fronts with only one fire suppression unit
  • Hot, windy conditions and hilly terrain.

Individual/Team Actions

  • Employee focus was on fire associated with petrol engine (primarily refueling) - not blades
  • Three crews using equipment that may cause sparks despite control to ‘Avoid’.

Key Learnings

  • The Corporation does not have a clear position on management of fire risk during the fire season – outside of the Total Fire Ban days and Catastrophic Fire Rating days
  • When conditions and\or equipment change, always review the risk assessment and ensure adequate controls are in place to manage additional risks.

Questions for Leaders

  • How do we plan for and manage the fire risk associated with our activities on any days that are not rated as Total Fire Ban and/or Catastrophic Fire Rating Days?