A number of concerns have been identified by Locals over the introduction of the Hazmat/Command Units.
One of the many Health & Safety concerns is the use of the tail lifter & removal/loading of pods. Concerns surround, but are not limited to lack of suitable controls for the demounted manual handling of any of the hazmat pods, in particular the pushing/pulling options, forces required to move or halt the progress of a pod, effects of slopes and terrain or any other environmental factors, availability of safe handles, visibility for the operator, hand/ body/ foot trapping risks, all of which increase with frequency of use.
The concern is that pods could fall off the tail lifter with catastrophic consequences if they land on a Firefighter. The other is the risk of fall by Firefighters off the tail lifter itself.
Two near miss accidents, inconsistency of investigations and lack of procedure compliance matters related to serious harm near misses is an extreme concern to the Union. The Union has made repeated requests for information which the Fire Service has failed to supply.
No proper “Risk Assessment” over the tail lifter of the appliance or the “Pods” functionality and safe use has being undertaken by the NZFS.
As with any hazards they should be eliminated, isolated or minimised.
The potential of this hazard can be eliminated until proper control measures are put in place by No member loading or unloading pods on the vehicles until further notice.
The NZPFU will support any Local who may institute a “BAN” on the use of the Hazmat Pods until the proper control measures for the identified “Risks” are agreed and put in place.
This “Ban” will not affect member’s ability to respond to Hazmat incidents in their current operational vehicles as of today’s date.
Locals who are using the “Pods” and have no alternative means of transporting their Hazardous Substances protective clothing/equipment need to ensure that extra caution, including extra staff are available to safely assist in the unloading of these “Pods” until the identified issues are satisfactorily resolved and proper safety measures are in place.
Locals who currently have existing “Bans” in place should continue to maintain that “Ban” and are legally authorised to do so in terms of the Health & Safety Act.