EWP's - a tale of tragedies but hopefully improvements

Posted on Feb 01, 2019

By Dr Gerry Ayers - CFMEU, OHS Unit Manager

A recently released South Australian Coroners’ report and recommendations regarding the workplace fatality of a CFMEU member in August 2014 highlighted the inherent dangers of working with or on all types of elevated work platforms (EWPs).

Recommendations from the report included EWPs should not be operated without a spotter or observer on the ground until the standardisation of control mechanisms is achieved on all scissor lifts. The worker on the ground must always be available to activate the emergency lowering mechanism of the EWP should it be necessary. The spotter on the ground must have the appropriate ticket for the plant and must be inducted into each piece of plant for which they will be spotting.

Across Australia there have been several tragic workplace fatalities and serious injuries as workers have been crushed and/or caught between the handrail/frame of EWP’s and the structure or associated material/frames that are attached to the structure.

EWP’s are not always the correct piece of plant or equipment for working at heights; especially if a risk assessment identifies any likelihood of a worker being injured whilst using an EWP. Alternatives, such as scaffolds, must be assessed and evaluated as a viable and safe alternative to EWP’s. This is consistent with the Falls Regulations (2017) and the new Prevention of Falls in General Construction Compliance Code published by WorkSafe Victoria in October 2018. Assessment must be done in full consultation with workers, the workers’ OHS representatives and employers, as set out under Section 35 of the Victorian Occupational Health and safety Act (2004).

These are some ways to ensure the safety of workers who work on EWPs. It should always be the safest way to work not the quickest or cheapest way.

If you are in any doubt – contact the CFMEU OHS Unit on 9341 3444 or your organiser for assistance.

And now for the GOOD NEWS...

Over the last 32 months random drug and alcohol testing has been carried out on 35 Victorian commercial construction sites. The testing, which was carried out by the Holmesglen Allied Health Services and Science, found that 17 (or 0.32%) out of 5,250 workers tested positive.*

Incolink offers services that are designed to make all work places safe for all workers. This includes drug and alcohol counselling and members can call our 24/7 counselling line on 1300 000 129 if they would like to talk to someone.

*Source: Holmesglen - Allied Health Services and Science, October 2015-

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