While EWPs may control work at height risks, the movement of mobile plant introduces new risks. Duty holders usually understand the risks EWPs pose to people on the ground however, what’s often not fully considered is the increased crush risk to workers from the EWP platform or within the basket.
Selecting appropriate equipment for the task
Consideration of each task and any potential hazards to ensure an EWP is suitable to use and that the type of EWP is appropriate for the task e.g. indoors or outdoors, presence of overhead hazards, condition of supporting surfaces. It may be appropriate to use an alternative – like scaffolding – to reach and carry out the task.
Before operating an EWP undertake a thorough task, site and equipment specific hazard and risk assessment. This may include consideration of the height, reach, crush or trapping hazards, safe working load, ground conditions and terrain, restricted working space and any electrical hazards, including overhead powerlines.
Safe work method statements
A safe work method statement (SWMS) must be developed and followed for operating an EWP if there’s a risk to people from its movement, including those working in it. Measures to control crush risks must be documented in the SWMS.
Workers must stand on the floor of the EWP only, not on the handrails or items such as ladders, scaffolding or boxes either placed on the platform floor or on the handrails.
Secondary guarding devices
Various secondary guarding devices may help prevent crush or trap injuries, depending on the type of EWP and work being done. Examples are:
- protective structures: a device attached or fixed to the existing guardrails that provides a protective barrier around the operator.
- sensing device: a device activated by force or pressure that stops the movement of the EWP to minimise harm.
If you plan to fit a secondary guarding device to an existing EWP, you must undertake a specific engineering risk assessment including consultation with the designer/manufacturer/supplier to determine whether there are any impacts on design registration and to ensure any proposed changes do not introduce new safety hazards or negatively impact the operation of the EWP. You can contact SafeWork SA for further information about design registration requirements.
Before operators start using EWPs training must be provided about the functions, safe work methods and emergency procedures.
For a boom-type EWP, where the boom length is 11 metres or more, the operator must hold a High Risk Work Licence.
The boom length is the greater of:
- the vertical distance from the surface supporting the boom-type EWP to the floor of the platform, with the platform extended to its maximum height; or
- the horizontal distance from the centre point of the boom’s rotation to the outer edge of the platform, with the platform extended to its maximum reach.
Before use and at the start of each shift, an EWP must be checked by the operator and tested in accordance with the pre-operational checklist based on Australian Standards.
Checks must include safety devices and interlock controls. If faults are identified, the EWP must be placed out of action (tagged out) and fixed before being used again.
The position of an EWP must be carefully assessed, in particular where there are overhead power lines or underground services. Prevailing wind conditions should also be considered. The stability of an EWP must also be carefully assessed for surface slopes, ground cavities and the condition of the ground surface.
The positioning must ensure that access to the emergency retrieval system is maintained.
EWPs that are supported on wheels when elevated must be free of damage that may result in instability. Most self-propelled EWPs are filled with solid or foam filled tyres. EWPs fitted with pneumatic tyres must not be able to elevate without stabilisers being activated. Pneumatic tyres must be free of defects and inflated to the correct pressure.
Base controls should not be used when personnel are on the platform, except in an emergency or for maintenance purposes. All EWPs must be fitted with an emergency retrieval system or be provided with auxiliary retrieval equipment to enable the safe evacuation of people from the platform.
Safe working load
The total weight of personnel, tools and material being loaded on the platform must not exceed the EWPs rated load capacity. Refer to the safe working load decal.
Operating instructions must be clearly and permanently displayed on the EWP.
Full safety harnesses must be worn by everyone on the platform of a boom-type EWP and be secured to the anchor point.
Where there is a risk of a free fall, a fall-arrest harness designed for attachment to a lanyard assembly, including a personal energy absorber, must be worn by everyone on the EWP.
Work in public places
When an EWP is used in a public place or on a roadway, suitable barricades need to be positioned to keep pedestrians and vehicles at a safe distance. Warning signs should be displayed and the appropriate approvals obtained from local authorities.
Extreme caution must be exercised when operating an EWP near overhead powerlines. The minimum safe distances for operating cranes, machinery, vehicles or vessels with elevating components near powerlines are detailed in the Electricity (General) Regulations 2012.
All maintenance, inspections and repairs need to be undertaken regularly and in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations. An EWP owner may engage a competent person to ensure this is done properly.
All EWPs ‘in-service’ should be regularly inspected and must be subject to a major inspection by the end of the tenth year.
SafeWork SA has developed a minimum standard of training expected for workers who operate elevating work platforms (EWPs). This standard has been developed in collaboration with construction industry unions, business associations, the Construction Industry Safety Committee and Construction Safety Alliance in accordance with the person conducting a business or undertaking’s (PCBU) primary duty of care under the Work Health and Safety Act 2012.
Although the majority of EWPs are used in construction, this information applies to all industries to ensure the minimum standard of training is being met.
The minimum standard consists of specific criteria that must be addressed to satisfy the five elements below.
- Plant identification
- Hazard identification and control
- Pre and post-start inspections
- Safe general use
- Shutdown and post-use inspection.
A PCBU must provide workers with reasonable information, instruction, training and supervision to operate the EWP in all of the foreseeable work situations which may arise.
PCBUs’ duties also include ensuring that:
- the type of EWP is appropriate for the task being performed
- the EWP is safe to use in that particular environment (other structures in the area, proximity to other workers and power lines, ground surface)
- workers are supplied with correct personal protective equipment (PPE)
- the work is conducted safely
- the EWP is maintained in a safe condition.
Workers must take all practicable steps to keep themselves safe in the workplace and ensure they do not place others at risk of harm. This includes both the actions they take and the actions they don’t take (i.e. not wearing safety gear).
Workers have a responsibility to:
- identify and report hazards as they arise
- follow the safe work procedures and instructions that are in place
- wear any required PPE
- report any accidents or near misses immediately to their supervisor or appropriate person.
Before a worker can operate an EWP of any type they must be appropriately trained and competent on each type of EWP to be used.
Nationally recognised training is available from Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) for the various types of EWPs, including boom-type, scissor and trailer mounted.
A Statement of Attainment for High Risk Work Licence (class WP) training from an RTO is acceptable as proof of training for the operation of a boom-type EWP.
Where the length of the boom is 11 metres or more the operator must also have a High Risk Work Licence (HRWL).
For experienced EWP operators without evidence of training, an alternative could be to arrange a registered training provider to confirm knowledge.
When operating models different to those used in the training and assessment, the operator should be provided with familiarisation training on the specific EWP they will be operating due to the design differences between manufacturers and even models by the same manufacturer.
The operator must also be supervised during the training period until they are deemed competent to operate the EWP.
Training must also be given to other workers within the EWP e.g. harness use, emergency procedures, overhead structures etc.
Operators should also receive regular refresher training that covers the minimum standard set out in this document.
A PCBU must put in place arrangements for ensuring that an EWP is used in accordance with safe work procedures by ensuring adequate supervision and monitoring by a nominated competent person. The use of EWPs during high risk construction work requires the implementation of a safe work method statement (SWMS) that describes how the control measures are to be monitored.
The person supervising the work activity must ensure there are clear lines of sight and communication while the EWP is being operated, to enable the warning of potential hazards.