Get onboard: what you probably don’t know about IMDG but should

If you or your organisation is involved in any capacity with the transportation by sea of dangerous goods then you need to know the what, why and how of the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code. The best way to get on board is to undertake IMDG training. And if you think it’s just for the seafaring types, then think again. Training is also compulsory for shore-based personnel who are engaged in the sea transport of dangerous goods. So whether you are on the high seas or a land lubber, IMDG training is the only way to make sure dangerous goods get from A to B safely and securely.

Just to recap, the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code lays out the rules for safe transportation of dangerous goods by sea. Its main objectives are to:

  • Protect human life
  • Prevent marine pollution
  • Facilitate the safe movement of dangerous goods

The IMDG Code applies to all ships which are subject to the following two conventions:

  1. International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974 (SOLAS 1974) – this covers the safety implications of dangerous goods onboard ships;
  2. International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) – which covers the pollution aspects for ships carrying dangerous goods

The IMDG Code lays out what constitutes dangerous goods and regulates how they are to be transported. The IMDG Code requires that such goods are correctly and safely:

  • Classified and identified
  • Packed
  • Marked and labelled
  • Documented
  • Stowed on board the vessel
  • Segregated from other goods with which they might react dangerously

Emergency response actions must be comprehensively documented and easily available and the Code also contains security requirements to minimise the risk of terrorists accessing and misusing dangerous goods.

The transport of dangerous goods is, unsurprisingly, a dangerous business and there are multitude of ways in which terrible accidents can happen. Dangerous goods constitute about 10% of all containerized shipments worldwide and have caused around 30% off all shipping incidents. Maintaining the integrity of dangerous goods in shipments is therefore crucial to keeping all stakeholders – and the marine environment – safe.

In order to stay up to date with the rapid changes in the maritime industry, the International Maritime Organisation periodically publishes changes to the IMDG Code.

Changes can include, but are not limited to, issues such as:

  • Important amendments to terminology
  • Amendments to certain dangerous goods classifications
  • Updates to stowage and packing instructions
  • New segregation groups
  • Updates to the list of dangerous good categories

The most recent changes incorporate the 2018 edition (featuring Amendment 39-18). The changes are optional for the 2019 calendar year but become mandatory on 1 January 2020 for two years. Likewise, the 38th amendment became mandatory on the 1st January 2018 and included changes regarding the packing of Cargo Transport Units (CTUs). The amendment is extensive and will require training in order that employees are in full compliance with the Code’s requirements.

According to shipping company Hapag Lloyd, non-compliance in the transportation of dangerous goods and restricted commodities is estimated to be the root cause of a major shipboard fire every sixty days. Chapter 1.2 of the amended code clearly references the CTU Code with exporters of dangerous goods now under mandatory obligation to secure their products inside the shipping container in a way that conforms to the CTU Code.

It is essential that organisations use the correct version of the Code and have their staff fully trained and competent in the requirements of the code. Referring to an outdated code can have dangerous consequences, especially given the rapid changes that can take place in the industry. With lives and the environment at stake, IMDG Code training should be a no-brainer. The loading of goods in maritime environments is fraught at the best of times but add dangerous goods or hazardous commodities to the picture and the risk increases hugely. Reduce that risk with effective training. Our IMDG Code general awareness training includes but is not limited to:

  • Descriptions of all classes of dangerous goods
  • Labelling, marking and placarding requirements
  • Packing, stowage, segregation and compatibility provisions
  • Purpose and content of dangerous goods transport documents
  • Emergency response documents

Give us a call today about your training options – when it comes to dangerous good shipping, everyone needs to be sea worthy.

Dave Malcolm talks health and food safety at Marley Spoon

Brendan: Welcome to Episode 9 of the Australian Health and Safety Business Podcast. I’m Brendan Torazzi, the director of alertforce.com.au and also the host of this program. We’re working towards building Australia’s first online health and safety marketplace. Today, I’m joined by Dave Malcolm from Marley Spoon.

Dave: I’m really good Brendan, how are you?

Brendan: great, thanks. We’ve come out this morning to the DC Center at Strathfield. Tell us a little bit about Marley Spoon, what you do Dave.

Dave: Marley Spoon is a meal kit delivery business. What that means for customers is we design 12 new recipes every week. Our customers and subscribers can go online and choose what they want to eat and then we deliver these fresh ingredients and recipes to their homes so they can cook meals at home.

Brendan: how long is the business been going for?

Dave: we launched Marley Spoon in Australia in the middle of 2015 as a sort of a tree startup so they’re quite young. I released the business and we’ve been scaling ever since so about three and a half years old.

Brendan: were you first in the marketplace in Australia. Tell us a little bit about you found out about this concept?

Dave: Marley Spoon actually exists and was sort of ideated in Germany. We operate in six countries globally including the US. Australia currently being the largest market. Over in Australia there are some other competitors in the landscape so we’re essentially a fast follower. Our competitors launched maybe three years ahead of us and then we came into the market with a slightly different customer proposition.

Brendan: out here this morning there’s lots of safety signs everywhere and it was quite strict in the way that we got the tour around the factory this morning. How has it changed over the last three and half years? Has it changed?

Dave: when you have a food business and you’re developing a product which you’re shipping into customer’s kitchens week in and week out. Food safety, quality assurance is of paramount importance in everything we do. It’s absolutely essential that customers trust us to deliver not only amazing ingredients, high quality produce that they couldn’t procure themselves and delicious recipes. Everything has to be saved and when you’re dealing with proteins like your chickens and things need to be shipped and maintained in a cool chain from the producer right the way through the manufacturing process into the logistical final mile to the home. Food safety is very important. It’s always been very high in our priorities. Apart from just the consumer food safety we obviously have a big facility here that you’ve just been around. There’s forklifts and racking and all of the usual things that you’d expect to see. Looking after our staff and employees is highly important as well. We take it very seriously and as I hope you’d expect from anyone that is supplying you food.

Brendan: you’ve recently taken the business into the public arena. In other words you’ve launched it on the stock market. What was the reason for that?

Dave: I think fast growth startups require a lot of capital. Food is expensive as anyone that goes and purchases groceries in the traditional way requires. When you’re scaling a business obviously to reach profitability. We need financial capital and you’ve seen the FC, the Fulfillment Center today. Automation and driving efficiency through that platform is critical and that requires investment. That is the main reason and of course funds will go into marketing and helping grow the business as well. It’s an essential part of growing the business.

Brendan: I’m not sure how many of the numbers you can share with us but tell us the year on year growth like you were telling me a story just now when you started just three and a half years ago you were personally hand picking the boxes and buying the stuff from Cole’s.

Dave: it’s nice to reminisce. We used to operate out a very tiny facility for a short period of time. When we launched the business, there was myself, Ralph Weber, my business partner, Chef Olivia Andrews. We sort of tasked with launching the Australian business. We went from shipping one box to 10 box to a hundred box to tens of thousands of boxes every month. The growth has been phenomenal. It’s continuing to move in the right direction.

Brendan: customers as I understand have a complete flexibility over their meal choices. Tell me a little bit about how that works, how the customers choose what they want?

Dave: this is the magic really I think behind the scenes. What we try and offer, what we do offer is 12 new recipes every week to our customers and they can go online and select exactly what they want to eat from a variety, from a menu if you will. In preparing that there’s obviously quite a long ideation phase from when the culinary team decide what they want to present to the customer. Then we have to procure that, forecast for it. Obviously test those dishes in our test kitchen and then it comes in and gets produced and sent out. Every week we present to our customers what we believe they want and if they want to amend their dishes they can go online and simply select whatever they want to receive and it just turns up at their house and they can cook it. The idea from a customer side is it’s incredibly simple but obviously from a procurement and production aspect it’s quite the opposite. It’s very complicated.

Brendan: do you find that customers would, do they supplement the Marley Spoon offering like for example it’s kind of like eating out at home what you’re doing. It’s something special. Are the people night in night out or do they tend to do other stuff as well?

Dave: the majority of people who use Marley Spoon cook with it three nights a week. That tends to be the sweet spot. Families are a bit more. We’ve recently actually tried introducing breakfast options as well. The idea is to alleviate that mid-week cooking stress. Four o’clock every afternoon you’re trying to decide with your partner or housemates what are we having for dinner and we get rid of that problem for you. It becomes part of people’s routine. We’re a flexible subscription business. The idea is that people use us week in, week out but of course when people are away they make pause.

Brendan: how many nights a week do you eat Marley Spoon?

Dave: I’m very lucky because I eat Marley Spoon all day at work because all the test dishes arrive at a table in the middle of the office but I subscribe three nights a week.

Brendan: I was going to ask are there sometimes some things outside of your control that maybe would affect I dont know, the quality of the food or tell me a little bit about obviously things do go wrong sometimes for all businesses. Can you think of a time where how you had to change or react or modify the way you operate?

Dave: you’re right. There are always challenges in every business. I mean they’re easy ones to isolate. We might forget to put something in a box for example. We solved that with FSQA so and checking and automation but there’s bigger things which I think are probably more interesting outside of the operational things to look at. In Australia we’re currently having a drought and it’s very important to forecast exactly how much beef we procure. We look at long range forecasting and pricing. It’s important that we also present the same price to the customer. There’s no variation in the product offering. These are challenges that we have to absorb within the business through really robust planning, forecasting and data analytics to understand how these external impacts such as the weather are actually going to affect our customer base. We would never ship anything that is below our standard in terms of quality of food. There’s very rigid testing when our producers ship to us in terms of temperature quality in line with the expectations of our customers.

Brendan: I’m curious. The team that come up with recipes you have a kitchen where they’re whipping up this stuff in the background or how do they come up with the ideas and how is it tested before you release it to market?

Dave: we actually do that in another facility in Sydney actually in our support office which is where all the other business functions are. We do have a big kitchen in the middle of the office that also functions as a photo studio where we shoot all of our content as well for eth recipe cards. We’ve got a team of very talented recipe writers who all work for Marley Spoon and they come up with great ideas and then they speak to the procurement team to insure that the ingredients they want are in season and can be sourced sustainably. They test cook them and we eat them. Then they get the thumbs and they get presented to the customers but that whole process can take several months.

Brendan: you’re planning how many months in advance on your meals?

Dave: on average maybe 12 weeks ahead of schedule. Then of course we plan the seasonality and sustainability. It’s very important that we have a business that is environmentally focused as well. We work with the cadence of the suppliers so for example with salmon, the fisheries will decrease supply in certain types of the year. We slot in to all of that to make sure that we’re delivering a sustainable product from end to end so the whole supply chain is managed in that way.

Brendan: does that mean that the supply chain is changing every quarter. Obviously you have people that provide staple ingredients but…

Dave: we develop very close relationships with key suppliers. That doesn’t change so much but the complexity of their business means that it’s constantly in flux. Our procurement and culinary team have massive jobs.

Brendan: how many staff are you up to now?

Dave: I think we’re just shy of 300 in Australia. Obviously a lot of that workforce is in the fulfillment centers. Then we have the other functions which work on what we call the promise side of the business, marketing, PR and all of those sort of in house functions. That has grown quite rapidly from the initial three over quite a short period of time.

Brendan: from three to 300 in three and a half years. You’ve got a lot of threes happening Dave.

Dave: it could be lucky.

Brendan: that is amazing. You were telling me or you were showing me about the Dinnerly brand. Tell me that is an offshoot of Marley Spoon or a sister or a cousin?

Dave: the easiest way to think about Dinnerly is that it’s for the more cost conscious consumer. For an Australian reference it’s kind of like Jetstar to Qantas if you want to make that sort of brand analogy. The way we achieve the low cost is that we have the same suppliers, the same produce so the quality is still top notch but we eliminate some of the niceties. For example we dont back the dishes into individual dish bags. We saved on cost operationally but again same product in terms recipes delivered to your door for you to cook at home just at a lower cost point which is significantly cheaper than you could procure those ingredients at the supermarket. An incredible offering particularly for families.

Brendan: it still gives you that creative outlet of being able to cook for yourself but you dont have to do it. Someone else is doing the shopping and the sourcing for you.

Dave: we love cooking and it’s not about delivering you take away. It’s very healthy for families to cook at home. People enjoy cooking. You still have to put it together.

Brendan: you’re not providing chefs yet.

Dave: no, unfortunately not but that is half the fun cooking with the family.

Brendan: what are the plans from here? You’ve obviously have this incredible growth story around food over the last three and a half years. What are the plans for the future?

Dave: I think obviously we have big aspirations in terms of feeding as many people as we can within Australia and the other territories that we operate in. I think the ambition is to continue to serve delicious food to as many people as possible whilst maintaining their supply chain for a waste free world. There’s still a small percentage of people that have used meal kits. A lot of people still shop at the supermarkets. My personal ambition probably more so than the company’s is to move people away from this kind of archaic way of shopping which is very wasteful and delivers a lot of pre consumer and consumer food waste. I mean I dont know if you know that one in five shopping bags that everyone purchases gets thrown away. The latest statistics from OzHarvest prove that. I think we want to continue growing our business was remaining waste free. We had zero food waste from day one due to the way we manage our supply chain. That is our sort of mission.

Brendan: we have listeners from all over the country. What areas do you deliver to?

Dave: we deliver all down the east coast major cities. We’re not in the Northern Territory or WA. We’re not in Perth yet but we deliver down South Australia to Adelaide as well, Canberra, Sydney, Brisbane and everywhere in between. We’re not in Tasmania yet for you Tasmania listeners although some of our produce does come from there but we’ll be expanding geographically as well over the short to near term.

Brendan: when you say major cities pretty much any one on the East Coast even if you’re in a regional area?

Dave: the easiest way to check is to visit the website and punch in your post code. It’s pretty extensive so I think we cover about 65% of the population.

Brendan: is that how it’s expanding? Is it word of mouth? Tell me a little bit about how you’re growing?

Dave: we have a very talented marketing team. You might see us on TV or on buses. We market direct to consumers but I mean because people enjoy the product and when they change their way of living and they understand the kind of value proposition of getting food delivered to their home we get great word of mouth, lots of referrals and of course that is a great way to grow your business through word of mouth. We strongly encourage people to talk about Marley Spoon.

Brendan: I’ll ask some questions to wrap up the interview. I did have actually one other question. Thinking about health and safety as the company grows do you think that it will change more or is it just more of human resources to manage? You talked about automation.

Dave: when it comes to food safety and quality assurance there are strict guidelines in place in Australia which we adhere to. We’re scrutinized as expected and we passed these tests. I think we want to be compliant and exceed all standards that would be expect from a business such as ours. We’re already there as a safe business but of course as you go and add more people it’s always a priority.

Brendan: that does mean that you’re getting regular visits say from New South Wales Food Authority to keep an eye on what you’re doing and hopefully add some value wherever they can?

Dave: we want to work with people as closely as possible and like you said earlier when you have a business when you’re asking for consumer trust you want to work very closely with the authorities to insure that you’re delivering the highest quality possible.

Brendan: how old are you now?

Dave: I’m 42.

Brendan: what do you do to keep fit?

Dave: I love long distance running so ultramarathon running and going to the gym when I can.

Brendan: I mentioned to you before I dont know how you sleep at night. How many hours sleep do you get per night?

Dave: I’ve really started to prioritize sleep actually. I’m not a great sleep but I’ve got a nine year old son. I try to go to bed fairly soon after him. I work with an international team so I have lots of global conversations as well but I try and get eight hours.

Brendan: you talked a little bit about your personal goals but what are you looking to achieve personally in the next 12 months?

Dave: I think continuing to be a better entrepreneur, be more organized, be more efficient. There’s constant improvement that you can do on yourself as well as your business. I think the biggest challenge for people to work in businesses that are growing rapidly and all entrepreneurs as well is maintaining your health because it’s very easy to get sucked in and work nonstop. Personally I think boundary setting would be a good one for me.

Brendan: finally what business achievement would you like to be most remembered for?

Dave: I never really thought about that personally because as you’ve seen by the volume of people we have here it’s just a massive team effort but I really enjoy working with my team so I think anything around building high performance teams as well I’d like to sort of associate myself with.

Brendan: if people want to find out a little bit more about Marley Spoon and Dinnerly where can they find you?

Dave: I’m very easy to find online at MarleySpoon.com.au or Dinnerly.com.au. If anyone wants to reach out to me you can find me on LinkedIn quite easily.

Brendan: that is fantastic. If you’re enjoying these podcasts make sure that you subscribe and share it around. We look forward to speaking to you next time on the health and safety podcast.

Asbestos awareness is worth it: this story shows why

Just when we thought the nation’s insulation woes were over, Mr Fluffy rears its ugly head again. Mr Fluffy loose-fill asbestos was used as insulation in houses in the ACT and NSW in the 1960s and 70s. It wasn’t until the late 1980s and early 90s that the government conducted a mass clean-up of the potentially lethal substance.

Approximately one thousand Mr Fluffy homes in the ACT were declared safe to live in. But in 2014 it was discovered that the houses still contained asbestos with traces of the potentially deadly fibres found inside the living areas of some homes, on pillows, in children’s cupboards and central heating systems. In the years since then, more than five hundred of the almost nine hundred homes acquired by the ACT Government under a buyback scheme have been demolished.

In at least two of the recent cases, owners were alerted to the asbestos by people working on the house. In 2016, for example, asbestos was identified by a tradie trained in asbestos awareness. Asbestos awareness training was mandated by the ACT Government in 2014 for all workers working with asbestos or asbestos containing materials and it is a fantastic result to see asbestos awareness training pay off in such an important way.

Having tradies who are trained to identify the possible presence of asbestos or asbestos-containing materials is a hugely valuable resource especially given that asbestos will for many years yet be a scourge on Australian buildings. As Councils and State Governments create ways for communities to manage and eliminate the threat of old asbestos – as in the Canberra buyback scheme or places like the town of Holbrook in NSW – the demand for workers trained in asbestos awareness and removal will continue.

As we know, dodgy insulation is not the only asbestos legacy Australia has to deal with. As the renovation renaissance in this country continues, so too does the risk of exposure to the asbestos and asbestos-containing materials that exist in so many Australian houses. So fraught with risk is renovation in older houses  that since 2014, claims due to renovations have outstripped other causes, exceeding expectations and raising insurance claim projections.

So tradies who have recognised expertise in asbestos awareness and assessment are a valuable resource. If you are a home owner looking to transform your fixer-upper, then it’s worth dealing with tradies who are trained to spot asbestos when they see it. Image being that Canberra tradie who spotted the Mr Fluffy asbestos – talk about hero of the hour! That kind of expertise can go a long way to saving people a lot of grief and a lot of pain.

If you are a tradie looking to get trained up or you’re a would-be renovator wanting to know what to look for in a builder or a tradie then here are some essential tips:

  • There are two types of removal licence and a licence to be an asbestos assessor:
    • A Class A licence allows you to remove friable and bonded asbestos along with asbestos-contaminated debris or dust.
    • A Class B licence allows you to remove non friable or bonded asbestos, like fibro sheets
  • To be eligible for a removal licence, you must have, among other conditions, a competent supervisor with industry experience.
  • A licenced asbestos removalist will have proper documentation confirming their expertise. This is a good way to check that you’ve got the right people for the job with legit qualifications. And for licenced tradespeople, it’s a useful way to prove your credentials.
  • Removing asbestos without a licence is can result in hefty fines. And if done incorrectly poses a risk to everyone involved. Check with your relevant Work Health and Safety body if you’re unsure.

Adding asbestos awareness, assessment and removal training to your range of capabilities as a tradesperson is an effective way to make yourself more in demand for a wider range of jobs. Companies employing teams of tradies will also benefit from great value group training and the knowledge that, when your team are on the job, they are in the best position possible to be on alert for asbestos. As long as asbestos contaminates Australian homes – whether via insulation like Mr Fluffy, or other materials – workers need asbestos training to ensure asbestos never gets a second chance to harm.

Check out our asbestos awareness, assessment and removal options here or give us a call now to arrange a training session.

Western Australia’s asbestos woes show that asbestos management training is still in hot demand

Just when you thought dealing with the asbestos that Australia already has was hard enough, it turns out we must also be on the alert for imported asbestos.

The Australian reported this month that the iron ore minder, Fortescue Metals Group, imported about 3500 Chinese-made rail carriages containing asbestos for use in the Pilbara region in what amounts to one of the largest breaches of the national ban on asbestos imports since it came into action fifteen years ago.

It’s not the first time asbestos has entered the country via Chinese imports. It has been detected in building materials, children’s crayons, quad bikes, motor vehicle parts and other products. In 2016, asbestos was found to be present in the roofing panels of the Perth’s Children’s Hospital and in building materials in Brisbane’s William Street tower with both cases linked to Chinese company Yuanda.

The law dictates that importers are responsible for ensuring their materials do not contain asbestos and companies can be fined more than one million dollars if they are in breach. In the case of Fortescue Metals, the asbestos was only detected in late 2017 despite the carriages having been imported between 2007 and 2014. The group has been ordered to replace all asbestos-containing materials in the rail cars by next year. Fortunately, it seems that no employees were exposed to risk and the Australian Border Force has not pursued a prosecution in this case.

Forescue Metal Chief Executive Elizabeth Gaines explained that WorkSafe was advised immediately it was discovered that asbestos was present and expert asbestos assessors were engaged to investigate: “An expert was engaged to test the component and conduct a risk assessment to ensure work procedures met or exceeded the relevant codes of practice… Fortes­cue has engaged licensed asbestos-removal services to replace all ­affected components in line with WorkSafe requirements.”

So the market for asbestos assessment and removal is not just confined to old houses. Those trained in asbestos awareness, assessment and removal have skills that are in demand across a range of industries, as this story demonstrates.

Western Australia’s asbestos troubles don’t stop there, however. With the ever present spectre of the tragic town of Wittenoom hanging over it, a Pilbara council is now concerned that people could be potentially exposed to asbestos if mining giant Rio Tinto is permitted to construct a railway line through a controlled area near the doomed town to service one of its ore mines. The Shire of Ashburton have formally objected to the placement of the rail line which would be built in the Wittenoom Asbestos Management Area, passing just 4km north of the town.

Kerry White is the President of the Shire of Ashburton and said the local council was concerned about the risks associated with the railway line’s planned alignment and the possibility of claims for compensation. While a detailed Asbestos Environmental Management Plan has been approved by the Department of Health, Department of Water and Environmental Regulation and the EPA, she says the Shire’s “on-going position [is] that the serious nature of the human health risks associated with asbestos exposure should principally be avoided, rather than managed.”

West Australian President of the Asbestos Disease Society of Australia, Robert Vojakovic agrees, saying that the rail line in its planned alignment would be disastrous because the speed and mass of an iron ore train would send fine asbestos particles into the air over a vast distance. He insists that there is no safe level of exposure to asbestos.

Whatever the answer to this particular dilemma is, the point remains that the need for asbestos training is not going anywhere. Wherever there is asbestos – whether it’s in old buildings, new imports, or defunct mines – those trained in its assessment and safe removal will be needed. Asbestos management skills are a unique set of expertise which can only be developed through training and education. If you’re trying to figure out the best place to start with asbestos training, take our quick quiz which will give you a good idea of what your needs are. Or feel free to give us a call to discuss your training options.

Avoid dodgy demolitions with asbestos training – it could save you thousands

Asbestos is back the headlines again this month as two developers in Melbourne were charged $120,000 each for failing to properly secure asbestos-riddled waste at the site of a demolished inner-city pub and then for dumping it in the city’s north-west. The developers’ company was fined a further $300,000. Magistrate Richard Pithouse unleashed on the developers, saying he would have sent them to prison for “such a blatant breach” if the legislation allowed for it.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) supported the magistrate’s decision. “The directors and company in this case have shown blatant disregard for the environment, for public health, for community,” said CEO Cathy Wilkinson. “It’s unacceptable and EPA Victoria puts on notice illegal dumpers… We don’t want asbestos uncontrolled in the environment.”

The historic former Carlton Inn was illegally demolished late in 2016. Three days later the EPA noted that debris on the site was likely to contain asbestos. Samples were taken and the asbestos finding was confirmed. Despite orders to adequately contain the debris, a pile of rubble from the site was found just days later at Cairnlea, opposite residential homes and just 350 m from a childcare centre. The remaining debris at the Carlton site was also not adequately managed.

As far as asbestos safety breaches go, it was an epic one. The attempt to abrogate responsibility by illegally dumping the debris elsewhere failed dramatically when a serial number on a brick in the pile identified it as having come from the pub site. Yes – that’s a massive fail all round from developers Raman Shaqiri and Stefce Kutlesovski. As the magistrate said: “I hope everyone knows your names.”

Needless to say, we’re pretty sure Shaqiri and Kutlesovski didn’t take part in any of our excellent asbestos training courses here at AlertForce! But you can. And not just to avoid fines (though that’s a good reason) but to ensure that you, your workers and the environment you’re operating in is safe from exposure to asbestos.

The best way to understand what is at stake when it comes to working around asbestos is through training. There is simply no room for a cavalier attitude or a careless approach to asbestos and our training courses demonstrate why steady, informed and prepared beats ad hoc, spontaneous and reckless every time.

Looking at the case above, we can give some examples as to what breaches were made and how training can prevent you from making errors when it comes to handling asbestos. As usual, you want to check your state or territory’s legislation to make sure you’re on top of your obligations (don’t worry – our training is nationally recognised) but generally speaking the requirements that apply to construction demolition work are outlined in the WHS Regulations and each state provides extra information of what is required when asbestos is involved. Here are a few key rules:

  • Asbestos should be removed as far as is practicably possible before demolition
  • Airborne asbestos fibres and dust must be minimised as much as possible
  • Soil scraping and excavation is required if the structure being demolished contains asbestos
  • An asbestos removal control plan (ARCP) must be prepared by a licenced asbestos removalist before any asbestos is removed
  • Asbestos removal must be carried out by those holding the appropriate A or B class license
  • Certain removal and demolition work must be reported to the appropriate Work Safe authority
  • Any workers involved in the project must be given appropriate training

Clearly, our dodgy developers in Melbourne didn’t abide by many – if any – of these rules. Believe us when we tell you that asbestos awareness, assessment and removal training costs a whole lot less that $300,000.

Asbestos awareness training will ensure that your workers are alert to the possible presence of asbestos, will know it when they see it, and will understand what safety precautions and notifications must be made. Our Class A, Class B and supervisor’s training will ensure that any asbestos or asbestos containing materials are removed according to the legislation and with minimal risk to workers, community and residents.

Demolitions are a hazardous business. Add asbestos to the mix and things get even trickier.  So get safe or get fined. Call us today to sort out your asbestos awareness, assessment and removal training.

All at sea about IMDG? Here’s your essential guide to IMDG training – what it is and who needs it.

International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) code is the international guideline for safe shipment of dangerous goods or hazardous materials by water. The Code is designed to protect crew members and prevent pollution and is intended for use by all of those involved in the shipping or dangerous goods or hazardous materials – not just the mariner. So if you’re participating in any way with the transport and shipping of dangerous goods and hazardous materials then IMDG training is for you.

What are dangerous goods and hazardous materials?

Hazardous materials are the ones that can have short- or long-term health effects and that is how they are classified. They might be solids, liquids or gases, pure substances or mixtures. When used in the workplace they might produce vapours, fume, dusts and mists and could be industrial, laboratory or agricultural chemicals. Exposure to hazardous materials can result in:

  • Poisoning
  • Irritation
  • Chemical burns
  • Sensitisation
  • Cancer
  • Birth defects
  • Diseases of certain organs such as skin, lungs, liver, kidneys and nervous system.

Dangerous goods, on the other hand, are classified according to their immediate physical or chemical effects like fire, explosion, corrosion and poisoning, affecting property, the environment or people.

Either way, mishandling hazardous materials or dangerous goods is bad news. So no wonder there are so many rules and regulations about how we work with and transport such nasty stuff.

Classification is key

Because transporting dangerous cargo is a process fraught with risk, learning how to categorise the goods and associated level of danger is an important part of IMDG training. There are nine classifications which identify the dangerous or hazardous materials and the risks associated with them as follows:

  • Classification 1 is for explosives – they might be a low or high explosive risk
  • Classification 2 is for gases – they might be toxic, inflammable or neither
  • Classification 3 is for liquids
  • Classification 4 is for solids – they might be combustible, toxic or self reactive
  • Classification 5 is for substances that may oxidise
  • Classification 6 is for substances that are toxic
  • Classification 7 is specifically for radioactive materials
  • Classification 8 is for materials that can corrode or erode
  • Classification 9 is for any other substance that cannot otherwise be classified but is deemed dangerous or hazardous.

 What are some of the main features of IMDG knowledge?

Every crew member engaged on a ship and involved directly with dangerous cargo must understand a variety of important points from the IMDG Code including:

  • How to classify dangerous goods and identify the shipping names of dangerous goods
  • How the dangerous cargo should be packed
  • The different types of markings, labels and placards used to identify various dangerous goods
  • Safe practices for loading and unloading cargo containing dangerous goods
  • How to interpret transport documents accompanying dangerous goods
  • How to handle dangerous goods when the ship is on its voyage
  • The best practice to contain and fight fire involving dangerous cargo on a ship
  • Prepare dangerous good loading/stowage plans taking in to consideration ship stability and emergency preparedness
  • Prepare correct dangerous goods declarations for port authorities and land transit purposes

What’s with all the amendments?

The IMDG code was created following recommendations of the United Nations and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). The first report was produced in 1956 and the code started being drafted in 1961.

Obviously there have been huge changes and development in maritime transportation over the decades since then and the code has to stay up to date with those changes, as does training. That’s why AlertForce offers the most up to date training in IMDG so you are on top of the latest amendments to the Code. Our courses are compliant to Amendment 38-16 of the IMDG Code. This amendment became mandatory on 1st January 2018 and refresher training must be done every two years by those who have completed initial training.

Since 2010, training has also been compulsory for shore-based personnel engaged in the sea transport of dangerous goods.

So whether you have never received dangerous goods training before, are looking to update or refresh your qualifications, or need to update your training to cover the latest amendments, AlertForce has got you covered. Make sure your sea legs are safe before you hit the high seas and give us a call today to discuss training options.

The reminder we needed that asbestos safety matters more than ever

Asbestos management training is essential for a whole array of reasons: it helps businesses fulfil their legal (and moral) obligations, it keeps workers safe and protects the community, it promotes a culture of safety which can help businesses attract and retain staff, and it gives businesses a competitive edge.

Businesses that neglect to use good practise when dealing with asbestos and fail to fully educate and train their staff, pay the price. Unfortunately, they also force their workers and the community to pay a price by perpetuating the horrendous legacy of asbestos in Australia.

In a recent case, for example, land owners is NSW are being warned to be wary of accepting landfill after the disappearance of 600 truckloads of debris containing asbestos from the Green Square Sydney development site. Investigators have tracked down some of the 17,000 tonnes of asbestos-contaminated waste but the location of much is still unknown. NSW Police believe some of the waste is on a rural property north of Sydney. “We spend ages working to get this property,” said the owner, Soraya Van Tilborg. “It all looked very legitimate, everything seemed in order.” She says she doesn’t even want to imagine what her children and family may have been exposed to.

Asbestos-containing materials can only be legally disposed of at EPA licensed landfill facilities. “But the high cost of removal of asbestos-containing materials and charges to legally dispose of it places a huge responsibility on those operating in the industry and the ‘rewards’ for misusing that responsibility are irresistible to some,” said SafeWork NSW licensed asbestos assessor Tony Milligan.

But consider this cost instead: the EPA’s Mark Gifford said the illegal dumping of asbestos could be punished with penalties up to $5 million in addition to prison sentences. This current case, believed to be linked to organised crime, was one of the largest ever investigated by the EPA. “Waste crime is a significant issue and one that we have taken seriously enough to develop and implement a waste crime taskforce in the EPA,” said Gifford.

So you might be thinking this all sounds like an episode of The Sopranos and wondering what organised crime got to do with your legit business. Well hopefully nothing at all. But the point is, crimes around asbestos dumping are being committed by both large-scale fraudsters and small-scale operators. Whether the illegal dumping is the action of a vast criminal network or the action of a couple of developers trying to cut costs, it’s still a crime. Recent cases show that the EPA and other authorities are deadly serious about catching and punishing those who play hard and fast with asbestos.

Perhaps it’s time to remind ourselves of just why the reckless management of asbestos is taken so seriously. And there’s no better reminder than Australia’s asbestos ground zero – the West Australian town of Wittenoom, where asbestos was mined from the 1930s until the 1960s. Only three residents remain in what is effectively now a ghost town with a tragic history of asbestos-related illness and death. In August this year a memorial was unveiled in Perth to honour the 4000 West Australians who have died from asbestos-related illnesses. The Chief Operating Officer of Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia, Melita Markey, said that Western Australia had the highest incidence of malignant mesothelioma cancer in the world and the memorial served to honour those who had died but also to remind us of how important it is to monitor and regulate today’s work environments for safety.

Asbestos safety in workplaces is the key to keeping workers and communities safe and the most effective way to promote that safety is via education and training. Whether your business just needs its employees to be asbestos aware or requires people with the skills to assess and remove asbestos, AlertForce can provide the training you need. Our asbestos management courses cover everything you need to know – including how to safely and legally dispose of asbestos so that you don’t end up the subject of an EPA investigation, in court for breaking the law or, or handing over hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines for breaching the legislation. Be asbestos aware and asbestos safe. Help break Australia’s terrible legacy of asbestos-related illness through education and training. Give us a call today so we can set you up with the courses that meet your needs.

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