Council hoses down weed spray safety fears

Warrnambool City Council executives have hosed down allegations that outdoor workers are risking their safety by not wearing adequate protective gear while spraying weeds.

Cr Peter Hulin told colleagues on Monday night he had seen council staff spraying without protective clothing or masks.

“We are allowing them to do it and there are risks for other people in the vicinity,” Cr Hulin said.

“We need to give our staff the appropriate precautions.”

Cr Kylie Gaston interjected by calling a point of order and questioning if Cr Hulin knew what was being sprayed when he saw the instances quoted.

Mayor Michael Neoh suggested the complaint be logged with council staff to follow up.

Cr Hulin replied “you don’t spray fertiliser on weeds”.

He claimed that council staff had recently sprayed dock at St James Park and were not wearing protective clothing.

“I don’t want this on my conscience,” he said.

Council communications manager Nick Higgins said staff were provided with the training and equipment needed to do their job safely.

“All staff applying chemicals are fully trained and have a farm chemical user certificate and must complete a refresher course every five years,” he said.

“The parks team primarily use Roundup Bi-Active for total weed control, as it is the most cost-effective, user and environmentally friendly chemical available. 

‘‘We also use Arsenal Xpress which has similar attributes.

“Staff must keep material safety data sheets with them at all times for particular chemicals they are using.

“Where practical in high-profile areas they use signage which is removed about an hour after completion of work. 

“Certified staff use their expertise and judgement to decide if the weather conditions are suitable for spraying.

“Our spraying program endeavours to avoid busy times and ceasing work to allow people to pass when required.”

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