Construction companies have been warned about a new crackdown on non-compliance when it comes to working from heights. SafeWork NSW has revealed it will be conducting unannounced inspections across the state over the next 12 months in a bid to reduce the rate of falls from heights.
It comes after concerns were raised over the number of falls from height seen in NSW recently. Earlier this year, Judge David Russell SC requested SafeWork NSW do more to combat the issue in light of 16 fall from height fatalities between 2018 and 2022.
SafeWork inspectors will visit construction sites without warning to monitor for those breaking the rules. Anyone found to be non-compliant with the regulations may be subject to fines and/or prosecution.
Elevating work platforms
Elevating work platforms (EWPs) are often the safest way to conduct work at height, and they are specifically designed to do so. Having said that, it is important to ensure EWPs are in appropriate condition and are used in accordance with manufacturer's instructions.
Incorrect use of EWPs or other machinery to reach raised working locations, as well as hazards that are not appropriately controlled, can increase the risk of incidents such as falls from height occurring. Some things to consider include:
Regular inspection is required to identify any damaged, worn or malfunctioning machinery components. These can contribute to the EWP malfunctioning, and increasing the risk of falls from height occurring.
Ensure appropriate fall arrest systems and harnesses are available for use on the EWP so that workers are restrained to the machine. Keep in mind that wearing a harness is mandatory in a boom type EWP, but not always required for a scissor type, unless specified in the site safety rules of each specific project or the manufacturer’s recommendations. It’s also important to ensure that the location of anchorage points in the EWP are marked to indicate the number of people that can be attached at any one time.
Guard rails and toe boards. Correct installation and maintenance of guard rails and toe boards on EWPs can reduce the likelihood of a fall from height incident.
Safety labels. Ensure appropriate safety labels are affixed to the EWP so workers understand hazards that may arise, and any PPE they may require.
Emergency stops and controls. Ensure appropriate emergency systems are in place on your machine to cease operation of the EWP in the event of a fall or other incident.
Weather. Ensure the EWP is only used in appropriate weather. For example, use in high wind could increase the risk of falls from height, so it may be recommended to delay EWP work where possible.
Stable work area. Ensuring the work area is flat and sturdy can improve the stability of the EWP.
Using the right machine for the right job. It is important to ensure the right platform is selected to reach a raised work area. Options include using an EWP, a ladder or scaffolding system. However, it is not recommended to use other types of machinery that are not designed to be used for working from heights. We recently covered an incident where an excavator was used as an elevating work platform, resulting in devastating consequences for the workers and the company involved.
Ensure EWP gates meet requirements. If your EWP has a gate fitted, ensure it is either inward opening or sliding, and is self-closing and locking.
State of the art controls. Using EWPs with controls such as movement and load sensing devices can reduce the likelihood of some incidents occurring.
Make sure you also check out our article on Australian standards for mobile elevating work platforms.
Want to ensure your EWP is safe and compliant?
Conduct thorough, machine specific risk assessment on your EWP with Plant Assessor. The digital risk machinery assessment process is simple; select your EWP from the database of more than 120,000 makes and models of machinery, and answer the yes or no questions. Plant Assessor’s Machinery Compliance Engine (MCE) will do much of the hard work for you, researching the relevant legislation, regulations, standards and codes of practice that apply to your EWP, to identify any hazards and areas of non-compliance. All you need to do is implement the control measures, conduct daily inspections via our free Pre Start Plus app and regularly service and maintain your machine to ensure it remains compliant, and is less likely to be involved in an incident that could risk the safety of your workers. You’ll also have peace of mind that you have mitigated the risks associated with your machinery, and be less likely to be exposed to legal and financial liabilities.
Here at Plant Assessor, we believe that safe machines equals safe people; if your machines are safe and compliant, your people are more likely to go home to their loved ones after work. If you’d like to know more about how we can help you keep your machines and your people safe, contact our expert team on 1300 728 852 or email email@example.com.
Disclaimer: This information is intended to provide general information on the subject matter. This is not intended as legal or expert advice for your specific situation. You should seek professional advice before acting or relying on the content of this information.