• Sandra Nieuwoudt
    42
    Good afternoon all

    Hope you had a lovely break and ready for 2024.

    My question is about how far do you go with restraint of cupboards and open shelving (not warehouse shelving).

    The landlord/building owner did a walkaround and now we have this huge list of all the cupboards and shelving in the laboratory they want restraint. Our smaller branches Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch has all restraint. Our Hamilton branch don't have all restraint.

    Don't get me wrong i do know HSWA requires a PCBU to review and revise control measures in accordance with the Health and Safety at Work Regulations.

    We don't store chemicals in cupboards or on shelving, and heavy consumables are not stored at height.

    Kind regards
    Sandra
  • James
    4
    Hi Sandra,

    Just to clarify, do you mean the restraint of objects on the shelves or the restraint of the shelves themselves?

    The restraint of objects is likely unreasonable unless they are heavy, high, or inherently unsafe (chemicals, box of knives, etc).

    The restraint of the shelves themselves would be reasonable as they are likely of considerable weight and likely to crush someone of the were to fall.

    I'd be interested to know others views on this too.
  • Kathy Froy
    4
    Something to always consider is their proximity to doorways and exits. If they were to fall down, regardless of the contents, would they prevent people from escaping the area?
  • KeithH
    171
    Hmm. That sucks.
    The landlord/building owner did a walkaround and now we have this huge list of all the cupboards and shelving in the laboratory they want restraintSandra Nieuwoudt
    WorkSafe have some FAQs for property management here. Interesting reading especially the intent.

    I agree with you on this Sandra -
    i do know HSWA requires a PCBU to review and revise control measures in accordance with the Health and Safety at Work RegulationsSandra Nieuwoudt
    but not very far. Your company is also a PCBU and PCBUs with overlapping duties "must, so far as is reasonably practicable, consult, co-operate with, and co-ordinate activities with all other PCBUs who have a duty in relation to the same matter." (HSWA s34). The interpretation here is that there is engagement not 'command and control'.

    Taking into consideration the guidelines from WorkSafe (and before anyone jumps up and down with their interpretation, who do you think the courts listen to? Little old you or the suits from Wellington?) decide on both where overlapping duties lie and where they don't. You may want to consider where overlapping activities occur for HSWA to apply.
    The overlapping activity could begin with who supplied and installed the shelving and cupboards, when was it done and what is stored.

    You may want to also review what hazards have been identified during the inspection, the associated harm and likelihood of that harm (HSWA s22) in order to determine the best controls (HSWA (GRWM Regs) s6).

    However, it's possible this won't address the issue you and others face with commercial landlords or property managers both now and in the future.
    Telling or insinuating the landlord should pull their head in is probably justified but not politic. The people who should be discussing this with the landlord are senior management as areas of responsibility like this and decision making should be outlined in the building lease.

    Food for thought.
  • Craig Carlyle
    7
    Hmmm, and we wonder why H&S suffers from bad PR? We must separate H&S from peoples good ideas (and/or their mandate to manage). I wonder what the figuring behind the management decision is? A history of incident's? A law, regulation or code? Keith's comments are on point; Identify a hazard, the harm and likelihood and consider some workable controls. While I appreciate people thinking through potential hazards and setting good standards, the acid test is "Would you do this if you were paying for it yourself?" I agree with Keith's comments.
    I think there maybe some logical advice provided for your branches on stacking of shelves etc, but don't throw the baby out with the bath water. My world is full of stories like this where zealots run around complicating the world while totally missing the real lethal stuff.
  • Steve H
    307
    With the charging of the owners of White Island by WorkSafe, it was inevitable that Landlords/Building Owners would take more of an interest in the activities of their tenants. During the Christchurch seismic events a friend of mine had a large, heavy, old pedestal drill topple and crush a guy that was working with him, this chap didn't die, but he was in his seventies and it was touch and go for a bit.

    I am very familiar with your Christchurch labs Sandra, I tested and tagged them up until 2019 when ill health forced me to sell my business and retire. You are correct when you say in your original post that most items are indeed well secured, in fact they made my life a misery having to gain access to the full extent of the lead/IEC lead etc at times.

    You might want to look at what are the safe working loads of tables, benches and shelving, it would not serve a useful purpose if these were to collapse under the extra loading earth quakes impose. Securing very heavy items like your centrifuges or water baths by installing fiddles at the corners of these items to stop them "dancing" off the bench etc they are on.would be fairy simple and low cost.
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