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    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    Education and Industrial Relations
    The Honourable Cameron Dick

    Take care during flood clean-up

    Education and Industrial Relations
    The Honourable Cameron Dick

    Wednesday, February 08, 2012

    Take care during flood clean-up

    Workers and residents cleaning up after flooding in south-west Queensland have been urged to take precautions and ensure they put their safety first.

    Industrial Relations Minister Cameron Dick said businesses and residents returning to begin the heartbreaking task of cleaning up needed to be wary of risks posed by electricity and asbestos.

    “Damaged wiring and electrical equipment can cause electrocution, shocks and fires,” Mr Dick said.

    “Rather than run the risk of a terrible accident occurring, residents and employers need to work with electricians and their local electricity supplier to keep themselves, families and staff safe.”

    Safe use of generators
    Mr Dick said people using generators as a power source because of flooding should be aware that generators could be extremely dangerous if not used properly.

    “If you are using a generator to power your home it must be connected via a change-over switch that has been installed by a licensed electrical contractor, who can ensure the generator is connected safely,” he said.

    “Because of the risks of electric shock or injury, it is vital that users follow the safety advice of both licensed contractors and the generator’s manufacturer.

    “Using a generator to supplement domestic electricity during a power outage also carries dangers of poisoning from carbon monoxide gases, fire and electrocution.

    “Never run a generator in an enclosed space. This leads to an increase in carbon monoxide in the air, which is deadly.

    “Only use a generator in a well-ventilated area and keep your cables or leads protected from water.”

    Reconnecting electricity
    Mr Dick said flood-affected buildings had to be inspected by a licensed electrical contractor before electricity could be reconnected.

    “When flooding has receded, home owners must engage a licensed electrical contractor to inspect the wiring to ensure it is safe,” he said.

    “Once a contractor has provided written advice that it is safe to do so, your energy supplier can reconnect electricity as soon as possible.”

    Electrical equipment and appliances
    Mr Dick said household items such as kettles, toasters, appliances and power tools that may have become wet or submerged in the floodwaters should not be used until they were checked by an electrician.

    “Rather than taking the risk of using these appliances, residents should get them tested by a licensed electrical contractor or dispose of them appropriately,” he said.

    “Larger appliances that have been in contact with water, such as air-conditioning units, should also be inspected by a licensed electrical contractor before use.”

    Quad bike safety and rural clean up safety
    Mr Dick added that extra safety precautions needed to be taken when using quad bikes, motor bikes and other farm machinery for flood rectification work.

    “Workers using quad bikes to help with cleaning up after storms should wear a helmet and check for potential hazards before attempting to cross any waterways, flooded or muddy terrain.

    “Remember – if it’s flooded, forget it.

    “Bikes should be ridden at safe speeds and not by children or inexperienced, untrained adults,” he said.

    Precautions for asbestos-containing materials
    Mr Dick said Workplace Health and Safety Queensland was also warning residents that flood-affected buildings could contain damaged asbestos-containing materials that pose a hazard when cleaning up.

    “Any sheds or buildings built before 1990 are likely to have some asbestos-containing materials in them. If they’ve been damaged, be very cautious when cleaning up,” he said.

    "You can't tell if materials contain asbestos by looking at them.

    “It’s best to err on the side of caution, assume that asbestos is present and treat it as such by wearing protective gear, keeping the material damp and handling it with care, as fibres can be released into the air through sawing, drilling or breaking it up.

    “Removal of 10 square metres or more of asbestos-containing material must be done by a licensed asbestos removalist.”

    Mr Dick said many older homes could have roofs made from ‘fibro’ or ‘super 6’, which contained asbestos.

    “Never use a high-pressure water cleaner to clean these types of roofs, as this increases the risk of exposure to airborne asbestos fibres,” he said.

    “Cleaning should be carried out with general water hoses and the surface should be checked during the cleaning process to ensure it has not been damaged.

    For more information on working safely with asbestos, working in muddy or wet areas, electrical safety and using quad bikes when cleaning up after flooding, visit or call the WHS Infoline on 1300 369 915.

    More information on electrical safety after wet weather and general electrical safety is available from Ergon Energy on 13 10 46, Energex on 13 12 53, the Electrical Safety Office on 1300 650 662, or at

    Media contact: Minister for Education and Industrial Relations 3237 1000
    8 February 2012