Like most people and companies in Queensland and NSW, our hearts and thoughts go out to the thousands of individuals, families and businesses who’ve been devastated by the recent flood disasters. Especially those who’ve only recently recovered from the 2011 floods, and families who’ve suffered personal and financial loss.
One of the inspiring upsides of these sorts of catastrophes is the way people and communities pull together to help each other out. Case in point: the famed Queensland “Mud Army” which already is resurrecting itself from two years ago!
From Townsville, through Bundaberg and down to the border of Tweed Heads, and inland to Laidley and nearby areas this great Aussie phenomenon can be seen in action. Working mostly unknown and unacknowledged, these often seemingly tireless contributors can arguably do far more than corporations and government put together!
As the long and arduous clean-up and rebuild work begins in Queensland and NSW there is a need for a “shout-out” for safety. In the selfless assistance being provided, often contributors own safety is overlooked or largely neglected. Here are some tips for Mud Army volunteers:
- Be careful where you tread. Underneath muddy waters, no matter how deep or shallow, can lurk all sorts of dangerous things! Nails in timber, broken glass, sheered tin or metal, electrical cables, to name a few. Make sure you know what’s under the water as best you can, especially before putting your hands and feet in!
- Wear strong foot and hand protection. Strong boots, or gumboots, and tough gloves are essential to prevent nasty injuries, possibly requiring a hospital visit and tetanus jab, at the least!
- Be super careful when using electrical appliances or tools, near water. As everyone would know, water and electrical power don’t mix! But a dropped power tool, together with live electricity can be too late to retrieve before it does potentially life threatening damage. Watch out generally for electrical cables as well, to make sure they don’t cause trip hazards, or are exposed to sharp edges.
- Slip and trip hazards: With slimy muddy surfaces becoming exposed as flood waters recede, or are cleaned up – the possibility of slip hazards on flood sites is huge. Awareness if more than half the key to prevention – keep your wits about you, and recognize that you most likely need a lot more careful support, than you would working in a normal environment.
- Fatigue and heat exhaustion. From here on we mostly now face a marathon not a sprint – the life saving urgency is mostly dissipating now. So don’t kill yourself in the first day or two, when an extra few hours taken at a sensible pace would do the job just as well, with much less physical and emotional cost!
- Dehydration – With humidity and temperatures still very high, remember to drink lots of good ‘ole water when you’re working hard. You can tell by how dark or light your urine is! If it’s a dark yellow, you’re dehydrated and you need to drink more. Remember, coffee, wine and soda pop drinks don’t do that much to really re-hydrate, water is best!
- Remember, just because you’re a volunteer, you still have statutory obligations to uphold. One important one is to remember that if you are working in, or on a house or property that is being substantially “renovated” (re-built) as a result of the flood, that property is classified as a Construction Site. As such, you much possess a White Card (Construction Safety Induction Course) to legally be allowed on the site. Failure to have a White Card on a Construction Site can (and does) lead to prosecution. The easiest and fastest way to get your White Card is online at www.whitecardonline.com.au Removal and disposal of rubbish is also subject to dangers – remember to carefully secure your load, and make sure to put red flags on any dangerous protruding parts of the load, before you start your trip.
WhiteCardOnline and Urban eLearning wish every flood victim and Mud Army Volunteer, along with all the emergency service personnel and volunteers, the very best over the next days, weeks and months!