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New South Wales News

ROOFTOP SOLAR INSTALL SAFETY UNDER SCRUTINY

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ROOFTOP SOLAR INSTALL SAFETY UNDER SCRUTINY

Customer Service NSW

Workers installing solar panels on rooftops can expect a visit from SafeWork NSW Inspectors, who are undertaking a six-month state-wide operation to ensure safety in this busy industry.

SafeWork NSW Executive Director Compliance & Dispute Resolution Matthew Press said this is the second time SafeWork Inspectors have targeted this activity with Inspectors visiting 286 solar panel installation sites in 2021, uncovering some alarming unsafe practices.

“The installation of solar photovoltaic systems on rooftops has increased markedly over recent years, due in part to government rebates, with NSW having installed most new rooftop solar panels in Australia in 2021,” Mr Press said.

“Solar retailers and installers have responsibilities under work health and safety laws to ensure workers are not at risk of falls from heights or contact with electricity, the two biggest safety risks the industry faces.

“Falls from heights is the biggest cause of traumatic fatalities on NSW construction sites, with most serious or fatal falls being from roofs, ladders or unsafe scaffolds – and from a height of four metres or less. That’s about the height of a single storey house.”

The safest protection against falls from heights when working on a roof is to use roof rails or scaffold. Solar rooftop installers must only use harnesses as a last resort when roof rails cannot be installed.

“It is of great concern that of the 286 inspections last year, 69 per cent of sites were only using harnesses or did not have fall protection at all. Of the sites using harnesses, 32 per cent did not have appropriate anchor points in place, and 50 per cent were not clipped on to anything. A further 26 per cent of sites did not have their ladder fixed at the top, nor did the ladder extend one metre past the landing space,” Mr Press said.

“The inspections also found that 27 per cent of sites did not place a lock on the main electrical switch or the meter box and 14 per cent did not adequately address the risk of overhead powerlines.

“Last year an Inspector observed a solar panel installation in progress with a worker at risk of falls of approximately 3.4 meters from a residential home, as the harness system in use was not connected properly. It was also found the means of access to the roof was not acceptable due to the ladder being unsecured.

“The risks are real. In January 2020, an apprentice electrician fractured his pelvis and back after falling more than three metres from a roof while installing solar panels at a construction site in Parklea. Later that year during another solar install, a 27-year-old roofing contractor fell more than three metres through the roof of a sheering shed fracturing his back, at a rural property in Alectown near Parkes.

“That is why SafeWork will have their boots on the ground, working with retailers and installers from now until the end of the year to ensure rooftop solar installers safety. Fines will be issued for non-compliance, with a zero-tolerance approach taken to falls risks. SafeWork has $1,000 rebates available for safety purchases which could prevent an incident and is a better investment than a $3,600 on-the-spot fine.”

Guide to Solar Panel Safety and accompanying installers checklist is available to assist with controlling the risks. Visit www.safework.nsw.gov.au/hazards-a-z/solar-panel-installations

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Three FRNSW Veterans Honoured with Australian Fire Service Medal

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Three FRNSW Veterans Honoured with Australian Fire Service Medal

 

Three distinguished veterans of Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) have been awarded the Australian Fire Service Medal (AFSM) in recognition of their exceptional service and dedication to community safety. The AFSM, established in 1988, honours the distinguished service of firefighters, both permanent and volunteer, and is presented annually on the King’s Birthday by the Governor-General, based on recommendations from Commonwealth and State ministers.

This year’s honourees are:

Assistant Commissioner – Regional Operations, Cheryl Anne Steer

Assistant Commissioner Cheryl Anne Steer began her career 28 years ago and has risen through the ranks to lead Regional Operations for FRNSW. Known for her operational excellence and effective management of major emergencies, she also mentors female firefighters and promotes values-based leadership. As co-chair of the FRNSW Women’s Inclusive Network (WIN) and director of the Relief and Welfare Fund, she supports colleagues in need. Additionally, she contributes to documenting the history of female firefighters at the Museum of Fire.

Chief Superintendent – Capability Management, Paul Johnstone

Chief Superintendent Paul Johnstone has dedicated 38 years to the fire service since joining the New South Wales Fire Brigades in 1985. His career includes roles in inner Sydney, Operational Staffing, and HAZMAT/Counter Terrorism. He has led significant improvements in medical capabilities, firefighter training, and in-water rescue capabilities. His contributions extend to enhancing policies, standards, and procedures, and he played a critical role in the response to the 2021/22 floods.

Captain, Paul James Dorin, Corrimal Fire Station

Captain Paul James Dorin joined FRNSW in 1993 as an On-Call firefighter. He is known for his commitment to community service and has developed numerous safety initiatives, including the Home Care Disability Fire Safety Program and the Smoke Alarm Action Day project. Beyond his duties, Captain Dorin is a talented cartoonist, using his art to raise funds for research into birth defects and childhood diseases such as cancer and epilepsy.

FRNSW Commissioner Jeremy Fewtrell praised the award recipients for their exemplary service and dedication. “All three firefighters are widely recognized for their devotion to duty and their professional, thoughtful, and caring approach to their work,” Commissioner Fewtrell stated. “I’m personally very proud of them and they thoroughly deserve the recognition.”

Emergency Services Minister Jihad Dib highlighted the professionalism and commitment of the honourees, stating, “Their professionalism consistently gets the job done. They have earned this recognition through courage and commitment, and I’m very pleased these firefighters are being honoured on the King’s Birthday in this way.”

 

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War Memorials Across NSW to Receive Funding

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War Memorials Across NSW to Receive Funding

 

The NSW Government has announced funding for 19 war memorials across the state through Round 2 of the 2023/24 Community War Memorials Fund. A total of $150,000 has been allocated to support projects that preserve and enhance these significant community landmarks.

Funding Details

This round saw 28 applications from 23 Local Government Areas, with successful applicants coming from 16 Local Government Areas and representing 13 electorates. The funded projects span the state, from Bombala in the far south to Lake Cargelligo in the west, and McKees Hill in the far north.

Key highlights include:

  • Bombala RSL sub-Branch: Awarded $10,000 for a condition assessment of the Bombala War Memorial to identify necessary conservation works.
  • Blackheath War Memorial Arch: Also receiving funds for vital conservation efforts.

The Community War Memorials Fund aims to ensure that local war memorials remain well-maintained and continue to serve as places of reflection and remembrance.

Ministerial Comments

Minister for Veterans, David Harris, expressed pride in the initiative, emphasizing the importance of preserving these historical sites.

“It is wonderful to announce this funding, which will be used for important projects around the state. Our communities are proud of their military history, and local war memorials are a vital part of our culture enabling us to reflect on over 100 years of our veterans’ service and sacrifice.

A total of $150,496.65 was awarded to councils, RSL sub-Branches, and community groups, with grants ranging from $2,000 to $15,000 to fund conservation projects in 13 state electorates in both metropolitan and regional areas. I encourage all communities to review the status of their local war memorials and to apply for funding for any restoration work that is needed.”

Community Responses

Mr. Vern Carmody, Honorary Secretary of the Bombala RSL sub-Branch, expressed gratitude for the grant which will aid in the preservation of the Bombala War Memorial.

“Thank you to the NSW Government for this grant for the heritage assessment of our wonderful war memorial at Bombala. This will assist us to attain an assessment of the repairs and conservation required for this historical cenotaph that was erected for the citizens of Bombala in 1922. The memorial is a centrepiece of the Dawn Service and Veterans’ March every Anzac Day, and also used for Remembrance Day activities. Bombala RSL sub-Branch would also like to thank the staff of the Snowy-Monaro Regional Council who assisted us in the preparation of the grant application.”

Dr. Rosemary Dillon, CEO of Blue Mountains City Council, highlighted the cultural and historical significance of local war memorials.

“Local war memorials are central features of our towns and villages, and they are precious to us all. They pay respect to those who put their country and their fellow servicemen and women before them. They are an ode to those who fought so we can have the freedoms we take for granted today. Erected around 1929, the Blackheath War Memorial contains 76 names of local men who served overseas in the First World War, including six who died on active service. This funding will go towards restoration works at Blackheath War Memorial, which will help with the protection and conservation of the memorial for years to come.”

Next Steps

Round 1 of the 2024/25 Community War Memorials Fund is currently open and will close on 24 July 2024. Communities are encouraged to review their local war memorials and apply for funding to address any conservation needs.

For more information and to apply for funding, visit the NSW Veterans Affairs website.

Conclusion

The NSW Government’s commitment to funding war memorials underscores the importance of preserving these sites as part of Australia’s cultural heritage. By providing financial support for their upkeep, the government ensures that future generations can continue to honour and remember the sacrifices made by veterans.

 

For more New South Whales news, click here.

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Annual Trout Fishing Closure Commences After June Long Weekend

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Annual Trout Fishing Closure Commences After June Long Weekend

 

Recreational fishers are reminded that the annual fishing closure in trout streams and rivers across NSW is in place from Tuesday, 11 June 2024.

NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Senior Fisheries Manager for Fish Stocking and Enhancement, Matthew McLellan, stated that the annual closure allows salmonid species to breed uninterrupted during their spawning run.

“The four-month closure ensures we protect our fishing assets for future seasons,” Mr. McLellan said.

Fishing During the Closure

During this time, recreational fishers can still enjoy fishing at popular trout dams across NSW such as:

  • Lake Jindabyne and Eucumbene Dam in the Snowy Mountains
  • Oberon Dam near Bathurst
  • Talbingo Dam near Tumut
  • Malpas Dam near Armidale

Fishers can also enjoy quality angling in the Macquarie River (excluding tributaries above its junction with, and including, Lewis Ponds Creek) and the Turon River and tributaries (below the Upper Turon Road crossing).

The fishing season for trout and salmon in trout rivers and streams will re-open on Saturday, 5 October 2024, coinciding with the start of the October long weekend.

Trout Fishing Rules

Detailed information on trout fishing rules can be found on the DPI website, NSW DPI FishSMART app, and the NSW Freshwater Fishing Guide, which is available from NSW DPI Fisheries offices and most bait and tackle stores.

Compliance and Regulations

NSW DPI Director Fisheries Compliance, Dr. Andrew Moriarty, emphasised that it is an offence to fish in trout streams during the closed season.

“DPI Fisheries Officers will be patrolling the State’s inland waterways throughout the trout closure period to ensure compliance,” Dr. Moriarty said.

Fishers heading to any trout dams this winter are reminded that they must have a current NSW recreational fishing fee receipt (fishing licence) on them at all times while fishing.

A combined bag limit of five and a size limit of 25 cm applies to trout or salmon in all trout dams, except in artificial fly and lure dams where the bag limit is two.

Reporting Illegal Fishing Activity

Members of the public are encouraged to report any suspected illegal fishing activity to the Fishers Watch phone line on 1800 043 536 or via the NSW DPI website.

 

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