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Elevating work platform crush risks

Fatal incidents and serious injuries may occur when operators and/or passengers are crushed against structures while using self-propelled boom and scissor-type elevating work platforms (EWPs).

Persons conducting a business or undertaking and self-employed persons must, so far as is reasonably practicable, identify all hazards and eliminate any risks associated with the use of EWPs in a workplace. The below recommendations for the control of crush risks are in accordance with what is 'reasonably practicable'.

Controlling risks

The range of motion available on some modern EWPs, such as the ability to move into and between structures, increases the likelihood of a crush incident occurring. Before operating an EWP in, around or near fixed structures, duty holders must eliminate crush risks where practicable to do so. If this is not possible, risks must be reduced by:

  • substitution
    • does the EWP provide the highest level of protection?
    • can the task be done from a scaffold instead of an EWP?
  • engineering controls
    • can you use an EWP with operator protective devices/secondary guarding, such as a physical barrier or pressure sensing device?
    • can you use or hire an EWP with standardised controls?
    • can you use or hire a scissor lift with a moveable or remote control box, to assist its safe movement around the worksite through doorways and beneath low parts of the structure?
    • if an EWP is not fitted with secondary guarding, standardised controls or a remote control box, talk to the supplier about retrofitting options to manage risks of crush injuries
  • a combination of control measures.

Administrative controls will be required to support substitution and engineering controls. Administrative controls should include:

  • training and licensing of operators (if required)
  • familiarising operators with specific EWP model controls, including emergency descent controls
  • inspecting and maintaining EWP consistent with the manufacturer’s instructions
  • altering work procedures, including SWMS if the EWP is used in construction work
  • providing additional operator supervision
  • having EWP-specific emergency procedures
  • having an agreed system of communication with support personnel who have line of sight of the operator
  • assigning support personnel who are trained to use EWP ground-based controls for emergency descent.

Further information on requirements for assistance of support personnel is available in section 5.14 of AS 2550.10: Cranes, hoists and winches – Safe use. Part 10: Mobile elevating work platforms.

Identifying risks

There will be an increased risk of operators or passengers being crushed where the nature of the task requires the EWP to be used near or adjacent to overhead or fixed structures.

The likelihood of a crushing incident increases in direct proportion to the number and proximity of fixed structures, such as roofs, cable trays and pipework near the EWP basket.

The basket moving unexpectedly may be due to unstable ground conditions, an operator’s lack of familiarity with the EWP’s model-specific controls, or malfunction of control.

Ground-based obstacles in close proximity to the EWP may divert an operator’s attention from overhead or adjacent structures, or their passenger’s safety, while travelling or manoeuvring the EWP.

The more time spent in an EWP close to fixed structures, the more likely a crush incident may occur.

Boom-type EWPs

Boom-type EWPs operating in workplaces where there is an increased risk of workers being crushed against a fixed structure should be fitted with an effective operator protective device.

Worker in EWP at building wall

Lower risk – minimal overhead structure in proximity. Secondary guarding not required.


Working overhead in EWP

Increased risk – multiple overhead structures in proximity. Secondary guarding required.


Operator protective devices are commonly known as ‘secondary guarding’. Such devices may include, but are not limited to:

physical barriers attached to the basket which reduce the likelihood of workers being crushed against structures EWP with physical barrier
EWP with pressure sensing devices pressure sensing devices positioned over the control panel which detect pending crush incidents and prevent further hazardous movements
proximity sensing devices which prevent an EWP’s basket from manoeuvring into crushing proximity of fixed structures EWP with proximity sensing devices

Scissor-type EWPs

Duty holders should consider a range of potential risk control measures for scissor-type EWPs applicable to their operational environments. Risk control measures should include:

  • a 'lower-before-travel' policy, where workers must lower scissor-type EWPs completely clear of any overhead structures before driving/travelling in the unit
  • driving scissor-type EWPs via the external 'umbilical' control when traversing through doorways or on internal ramps.

Observers should be used to monitor blind spots for pedestrians when being driven by external 'umbilical' control.

Further information