Health and Safety Guidelines for community-based waterway monitoring

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This product has been developed in 2006 by the State Community Waterway Monitoring Team (DNRM) through NAP WQ05 State Investment "Enhancing Community Monitoring Capacity to Monitor Water Quality Targets" project.

This safety manual covers all aspects of Workplace Health and Safety that relate specifically to the activities of volunteers involved in community-based waterway monitoring.

Pocket safety guide for volunteers

The following safety guide briefly outlines volunteers' responsibilities with regards to safety. Download the pocket guide which is designed for reproduction on A4 (two sided), laminated for durability and water resistance, then folded to A5 size. A copy should be issued to each volunteer at the initial briefing.

H S Guidelines PocketGuide TitlePage.jpg

Download the Pocket Safety Guide for volunteers (PDF)

Group responsibility

The Group has a responsibility to provide a safe working environment for its volunteers and staff.

Volunteer responsibility

Volunteers must co-operate with the group in the maintenance of a safe working environment, and must comply with group safety policy.

Drugs, alcohol and smoking

Smoking and the consumption of alcohol or the use of illegal drugs are not permitted in group vehicles or offices.

Vehicles and travel

Volunteers will not be authorised to drive vehicles. During travel, volunteers must wear seat-belts and ensure they are correctly fitted. Volunteers must also avoid causing distraction to the driver, which may endanger the safety of all vehicle occupants.

Protective clothing

Volunteers must wear sturdy boots on group project sites, and additional personal protective clothing as directed by the team leader, including clothing which provides adequate protection against the sun and insect and spider bites.

Pre-existing medical conditions

It is essential that volunteers declare, confidentially, any pre-existing medical conditions which may affect their participation in group projects. In some instances, pre-existing conditions may limit participation in remote or isolated projects.

Register of injuries

If at any time a volunteer sustains a project-related injury on a project, even if minor, the injury should be treated and then recorded in the register of injuries. Volunteers should ask to do this.

Safety equipment

Volunteers must not interfere with any safety equipment such as fire extinguishers, smoke detector etc installed in any group office or vehicles. Any breach of this requirement may endanger the lives of others (all projects are supplied with a first aid kit.)

Medications and personal hygiene

The group will not normally supply or administer medications. Volunteers must supply their own medications and toiletries, and maintain standards of hygiene which show appropriate respect for the health and comfort of other team members.

Tool use

Volunteers will be instructed in the safe use ad carrying of a range of hand tools. Volunteers will not normally be authorised to use power tools. Care must be taken to maintain a safe working distance between volunteers. That distance should not be less than three metres when using "swinging" tools such as picks, mattocks or axes.


Chemicals may be used by volunteers only when under the supervision of an appropriately qualified person, and only then where there is full compliance with the safety directions detailed on the material safety data sheet (MSDS). Volunteers may request to examine the MSDS.

The right to feel safe

Volunteers and staff must not only be safe; they must also feel safe. Volunteers should immediately draw to the attention of their team leader any situation which causes them to feel unsafe or feel concern for the safety of others.


In the case of life-threatening emergency call 000 (on landline) or 112 (on mobile phone).

Additional information

  • Sun protection: Sunshine is a great attraction, but Australia has a high incidence of skin cancer resulting from over-exposure to the sun's ultraviolet rays. Loose-fitting long trousers, long-sleeved shirts, a broad-brimmed hat and sunscreen (high protection factor) are recommended whenever you are to be out of doors for extended periods.
  • Insects: Insect-borne diseases, while not common, can be contracted in any pert of Australia. Long sleeves, long trousers, and insect repellent will usually provide adequate protection.
  • Dehydration: Always make sure you are carrying or have access to water whenever engaged in physical activity. Regular drink breaks and rest periods are important.
  • Hypothermia: Sub-zero temperatures are not uncommon across wide areas of Australia during winter, or at any time in the high country. A waterproof, windproof jacket is recommended and further advice should be sought if travelling in Australia's mountains or southern regions.
  • Water safety: Swimming in natural areas is popular in Australia, but local advice is essential to ensure that the river, lake or beach is safe. Most popular beaches have a flagged, safe swimming area which is patrolled by lifeguards.
  • Snakes: Venomous snakes are found throughout Australia and must be treated with respect. Fortunately they are very shy and usually avoid contact with humans, but the wearing of sturdy shoes and socks is recommended when walking in or near forests, grasslands or parkland. If snakes are encountered they should not be disturbed... enjoy watching them, then move away quietly.
  • Road travel: Australia has strict laws relating to speed limits and alcohol consumption by drivers. Do not travel with anyone who does not comply with these laws.

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Download the full manual (15Mb PDF)

This is a legacy website. Content is not being updated but is kept as an archive.
Updated NRM information is now held in the NQ Dry Tropics NRM Information Portal at
while corporate information about NQ Dry Tropics is held on our main website at
NQ Dry Tropics Website