Taking Safety Seriously
Every year members of the NSW Rural Fire Service battle bushfires in both rural and rural-urban interface areas and respond to a range of challenging incidents from motor vehicle crashes to supporting other services.
We face numerous hazards, including heat (from the fire, weather, and our physical exertion), smoke, air borne particles, noise, biological agents (from blood and other body fluids) and chemicals.
Bushfire suppression activities involve long working hours with periods of high-intensity physical labour. The combination of stressors places considerable physiological, psychological and emotional strain on a firefighter, which may result in fatigue, impaired judgement, unsafe behaviour, accidents, injuries, and in some cases, death.
The NSW Rural Fire Service is committed to the health, safety and welfare of its members. In general terms health refers to the soundness of body of an individual, safety refers to ensuring the individual is secure, protected and out of danger and welfare focuses on the individual’s wellbeing.
This course provides members of the NSW RFS with the skills, knowledge and attitude to maintain safety at an incident scene, and to manage error during an incident.
All new members of the NSW RFS, staff and volunteers, undertake the Safety Induction Course. The Safety Induction Course is available online through MyRFS and is aligned to PUAOHS001C Follow defined occupational health and safety policies and procedures.
The NSW RFS Safety Induction Course provides awareness training in the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act & Regulations, and your obligations in meeting the requirements of these statute laws.
The course also provides you with the basic tools to undertake a simple risk management process, to identify and rectify hazards in the workplace, including your station, and how to report accidents and injuries.
Health, Safety and Welfare at an Incident
Every incident brings with it new and challenging hazards. Your basic training provides you with the means to identify and control or report simple hazards.
Many incidents you attend are dynamic in nature or constantly changing, and often creating new hazards. Many incidents will go for many hours or many days or weeks.
The CSW course will provide you with methods to identify and control hazards at a range of incident scenes, and to ensure hazards are controlled, and monitored and adjusted.
Importantly, the course introduces a risk assessment process to be undertaken prior to undertaking control measures, to ensure we are not adding to or creating new risks.
This process is called Dynamic Risk Assessment. Key questions when using Dynamic Risk Assessment are:
- Is the strategy, tactic or task worth the risk? Is the cost proportional to the benefits?
- Is the strategy, tactic or task going to create more or different hazards?
From the moment your pager goes off, or you receive a phone call, to attend an incident you are at risk.
Because we are human every one of us acts differently. How we gather and process information will be different. How we make decisions will be different. How we react or behave will be different.
Because we are human, we also rely on nutrition and energy, hydration and rest – the fundamental requirements for life. Each of us reacts differently when these fundamentals are in short supply or absent.
All of these factors are commonly referred to as the Human Factors, and brings together the foundations of health and welfare.
When human factors affect “how we gather and process information, make decisions, and behave or react” and it causes an accident, this is often referred to as ‘human error’ and is the most common cause of ‘accidents’.
Techniques for managing error in the NSW RFS are called Fire-Crew Resource Management or simply Fire-CRM.