Hazardous Work

The University of Canterbury has a variety of work environments and processes. Environments and processes that are considered to be more hazardous require a greater level of control. Residual hazards that exist after controls put in place may rely on the use of Personal Protective Equipment to mitigate any remaining chance of harm.

Processes that are inherently more risky require a permit to work. Specifically these are entering and working in a confined space and work which introduces potential sources of ignition in environments that are not specifically designed for that purpose. 

Particularly hazardous work is termed notifiable work.

A confined space is an enclosed or partially enclosed space and is not intended or designed primarily for human occupancy. It may present a risk from one or more of the following at any time:

  • unsafe concentration of harmful airborne contaminants
  • unsafe concentration of flammable substances
  • unsafe levels of oxygen - substances that can cause engulfment

Examples include: storage tanks, tank cars, process vessels, boilers, silos, pits, pipes, sewers, shafts, ducts and shipboard spaces.

Working in a confined space is specialised work and requires expertise in identifying and managing hazards.

The Protocol: Confined Space Entry has more detailed information on responsibilities, hazard assessment and control, emergency management, training and competency, records management associated with confined space work.

Worksafe also provides guidance on Planning Entry and Working Safely in a Confined Space

Anyone at the University who is considering entering a confined space must first contact Facility Services and follow the Confined Space Permit to Work procedure.

Hot work is defined as any work involving processes that have the potential to cause a fire or explosion. Examples of hot work include operations where any open flame or any other type of heat source is used that is capable of igniting combustible materials or flammable atmospheres.

Ignition can result from sparks, slag, falling hot debris and by conduction of heat along metal.

The University of Canterbury has a number of purpose-built scientific and engineering rooms and laboratories housing equipment that may generate heat. These are specifically designed and built to withstand the heat generated by the processes and no hot work permit is required when these facilities being used for that purpose for which they are designed.

Further detail on responsibilities, procedures, hazard assessment and control, emergency management and record keeping can be found in Protocol: Hot Work.

Anyone at the University who is considering undertaking Hot Work must first contact Facility Services and follow their Hot Work Permit procedure.

Isolating (Lockout) is the use of a lock to render machinery or equipment inoperable or to isolate an energy source. The purpose is to establish 'zero energy'. This is where all sources of energy including electrical, pneumatic, hydraulic, mechanical and stored energy are isolated so that they pose no danger. The purpose of zero energy and lockout is to prevent the release of an energy source that could activate moving parts on equipment or machinery.

The Protocol: Isolation and Danger Tagging has more detailed information on lockout and tagging requirements, responsibilities and procedures.

Use of a lock or locking system to render equipment or a system inoperable is required when inadvertent energising of equipment or service during maintenance, build, inspection, or repair may result in serious or fatal injuries, damage to equipment and facilities, and harm to the environment.

At times it is necessary for equipment or systems to be operating (energised) in order to troubleshoot or make fine adjustments. Working on energised equipment must only be done by people who:

  • are qualified and competent to do the work
  • have authorisation to perform the work
  • have been provided with written safe work procedures

Facility Services must be consulted regarding the isolation of any service to any part of the University, e.g. electricity, heating or water.

The following hazardous work is deemed to be notifiable. It is unlikely that any work of this type would be done without the involvement of Facilities Services. Facility Services must approve Notifiable Work prior to notification to Worksafe NZ. Notification to Worksafe must be made 24 hours prior to the commencement of the work.

  • Construction work with a risk of falling 5 metres or more (see exclusions below)
  • Exclusions:
    • work in connection with a residential building up to and including 2 full storeys
    • work on overhead telecommunications lines and overhead electric power lines
    • work carried out from ladder only
    • maintenance and repair work of a minor or routine nature.
  • Erecting or dismantling scaffolding with a risk of falling 5 metres or more
  • Logging or tree felling undertaken for commercial purposes
  • Use of a lifting appliance where the appliance has to lift a mass of 500 kilogrammes or more a vertical distance of 5 metres or more (see exclusions below)
  • Exclusions:
    • work using an excavator
    • work using a forklift, or
    • work using a self-propelled mobile crane
  • Work in any drive, excavation, or heading in which any person is required to work with a ground cover overhead
  • Work in any excavation in which any face has a vertical height of more than 5 metres and an average slope steeper than a ratio of 1 horizontal to 2 vertical
  • Work in any pit, shaft, trench, or other excavation in which any person is required to work in a space more than 1.5 metres deep and having a depth greater than the horizontal width at the top
  • Work involving the use of explosives, or storage of explosives for use at the worksite
  • Work in which a person breathes compressed air, or a respiratory medium other than air (diving)
  • Work in which a person breathes compressed air, or a respiratory medium other than air (not diving)

Personal protective equipment (PPE) provides protection when all other control measures can’t adequately eliminate or minimise risks to health and safety.

The University of Canterbury will provide workers with approved safety and protective equipment as required by the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.

Specific departments and courses have strict rules on the wearing of PPE in laboratories, in workshops, and in fieldwork. Students should check with course supervisors on these requirements.

PPE must meet New Zealand safety standards. PPE must also be regularly checked to ensure it is not damaged and is still fit for purpose. Some PPE items have expiry dates and these must be monitored and replacements ordered. 

Further detail on PPE requirements and responsibilities are set out in the Protocol: Personal Protective Equipment

Work at height means working in a place where a person could be injured if they fell from one level to another. This can be above or below ground level.

The HSE Act requires that if there is a potential for a person at work to fall from any height, reasonable and practicable steps must be taken to prevent harm from resulting.

University of Canterbury deems working at height as from the moment you leave the ground to undertake a task.

The Protocol: Height Safety has further detail on responsibilities hazard assessment and control, emergency management, training and competency in relation to working at height.

Some work at height is deemed to be notifiable work. Specifically this is:

  • Work where a person may fall 5 metres or more (other than work in connection with a residential building up to and including two full storeys, work on overhead telecommunications lines and overhead electric power lines, work carried out from a ladder only, maintenance and repair work of a minor or routine nature)
  • Erection or dismantling of scaffolds from which any person could fall 5 metres or more
  • Work in any excavation in which any face has a vertical height of more than 5 metres and an average slope steeper than a ratio of 1 horizontal to 2 vertical.

Facility Services must approve Notifiable Work prior to notification to Worksafe NZ. Notification to Worksafe must be made 24 hours prior to the commencement of the work.

Worksafe has very good guidance material for Working Safely at Height.

 

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