Control measure knowledge

At any incident the physical working environment may present hazards to safe operations such as uneven and slippery surfaces, changes in level and bodies of water. The time of day, weather conditions and the light level can increase the risk to responders operating in such working environments.

The risk of slips and trips can be reduced by effectively managing the working environment, individuals maintaining vigilance and indicating/illuminating the presence of hazards. When working near bodies of water or changes in level personnel should be isolated from the hazard where possible rather than relying on supervision or PPE.

See: National Operational Guidance: Subsurface, height structures and confined spaces 

See: National Operational Guidance: Water rescue and flooding

See: The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992

Strategic actions

Fire and rescue services should:
  • Carry out strategic risk assessments to identify foreseeable hazards within their area and identify control measures that eliminate or reduce risk
  • Consider the provision of or access to engineering controls that can assist with manual handling tasks

  • Develop service policy and procedures for the acquisition, application and maintenance of operational competency

Tactical actions

Incident commanders should:
  • Ensure that everyone on the incident ground is fully briefed on the current hazards, specific risks and control measures including other agencies and organisations
  • Manage risk in the physical environment using a hierarchy of control approach
  • Establish a safe working environment for fire crews and other responders
  • Consider the effect of weather conditions and time of day on the working environment

  • Identify and communicate any electrical or mechanical hazards that present a risk to personnel

  • Manage hazards in the working environment that could lead to slips, trips and falls

  • Establish and maintain safe means of access to and egress from scene of operations at all times

  • Identify bodies of water, unstable ground and risks of falling from height in working environment

  • Establish, identify and communicate safe traffic routes, establish clear zones and equipment points

  • Define routes using physical barriers and clearly illuminate where there is reduced visibility
  • Provide lighting to illuminate hazards to personnel in poorly lit environments

  • Ensure that personnel expected to work at night review the area during daylight hours where possible
  • Seek assistance from the police or other relevant responder agency to secure a safe working area