EWP fatal incident prompts work safety warning

An incident this month in which a young man was killed while operating a boom elevating work platform (EWP) on a construction site prompted Workplace Health and Safety Queensland to issue a safety reminder.

The worker was crushed by the EWP as he was attempting to disengage the basket of the elevating work platform.

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland says that while elevating work platforms are important for working at height, there have been many serious incidents where operators have been trapped or crushed between the basket, and overhead obstructions.

“In addition to this fatal incident, since 2012 there has been one other involving an EWP and a further 65 that resulted in either serious injury or other injuries requiring immediate hospital treatment,” said WHSQ in its alert. “311 enforcement notices were issued in relation to EWPs including 138 prohibition notices, 166 improvement notices, three electrical safety protection notices and two infringement notices.”

The agency said the risks should be managed using the following controls:

  • Before starting work, check the work area for hazards such as overhead obstructions and power lines
  • Where possible, sequence the building works so that adequate room is available to safely operate the EWP and the risk of the platform or boom becoming caught on an obstruction is minimised. In some situations, a building fixture may need to be installed after the main structural members are installed and it can be extremely difficult to operate an EWP safely. In these situations, alternative means of safe access should be considered.
  • Supervisors and spotters should be trained and on site when an EWP is in use to help the operator navigate difficult obstructions.
  • Movement of the EWP should always be slow, deliberate and planned, with careful use of the EWP’s proportional controls.
  • Start with the large movements of driving and elevating the EWP, and finish with finer movements when closer.
  • Safe work method statements are required for all high-risk construction work.
  • Operators must be competent and provided with adequate training, including familiarisation training for each specific make and model of EWP they use.
  • If the EWP has a boom of 11 metres or longer, the operator must hold a high-risk work licence.
  • Other workers should know how to use the ground controls and emergency descent devices for the type and model of EWP being used.

More information about using elevating work platforms safely can be accessed through Workplace Health and Safety Queensland’s website.

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