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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).

In collaboration with construction industry stakeholders, we have developed recommendations for the control of crush risks that are in accordance with what is 'reasonably practicable'.

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.

Controlling risks

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

  • substitution: does the EWP provide the highest level of protection? For example, can the task be done from a scaffold instead of an EWP?
  • engineering controls: for example, can an EWP with an operator protective device/secondary guarding, such as a physical barrier or pressure sensing device, be used for the task? If hiring an EWP this may require advance notice to the hirer.
  • a combination of control measures.

If a risk still remains after implementing these higher order control measures, administrative controls must be used to further reduce the risk. Administrative controls may include:

  • familiarising operators with specific EWP model controls
  • EWP inspection and maintenance regimes consistent with manufacturer’s instructions
  • altered work procedures
  • additional operator supervision
  • EWP-specific emergency procedures
  • assigning a safety observer who is trained to use EWP ground-based controls.

Administrative controls will also be required to support substitution and engineering controls.

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 may 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