OSH alert - Prevention of Falls Breach (September 2016)

Key learnings from a High Potential Incident

Fall from heights iconHPI OSH Alert #482

Date of incident: 8 September 2016

Safety Flash issued: 12 September 2016

What happened? Prevention of Falls breach

A worker was standing on the edge of a pump station wet-well section while the excavator operator was lifting a temporary work platform and lowering it to the ground. There was no barrier or fall prevention between the worker and the 4.1 metre deep wet well. The worker was wearing a harness at the time of the incident and a portable davit was setup, however the worker was not attached to the davit during the task.

Why did this happen?

  • To commence this job the workers had to remove one of the two-part covers on the pump station well. In the removal of this cover a new hazard was created.
  • The hazard was created by moving part one of the two-part cover to enter the pump station well, creating an opening. This is a design feature of the temporary cover.
  • The hazard was not recognised in the Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) document or in the design of the cover. A lapse in concentration meant that the hazard was also overlooked by the team on site. Safety messages communicated through the toolbox meeting and SWMS that morning had lost their impact.
  • Lack of a specific JSEA for the task identifying the requirement for all personnel to remain at ground level during the lift operations.

What will the contractor involved in the incident do to stop this from happening again?

  • Develop a site specific JSEA for the installation and removal of pump station platforms for future requirements which captures controls such as ensuring all employees are at ground level and out of harms way before any lift is commenced.
  • Provide individual safety counselling for all personnel involved and refresher training for the construction crew on requirements under the Code of Practice for Excavations.
  • Change the design of the temporary platform to reduce exposure to the temporarily open edge of the platform.


What key learnings can you discuss with your team to help prevent this type of incident from happening?

Never work without assessing and controlling the risk of a fall

  • Is anyone undertaking work that is associated with our “Fall Prevention” Safety Essential today?
  • Do you have the appropriate permission/authorisation, qualifications and resources and are you competent to perform the task safely?
  • Has a task specific JSEA or SWMS been developed, reviewed by the Site Manager and signed by the working group for your supervisor to review before the task can commence?

High Risk Work construction activities must have adequate levels of risk mitigation measures in place

  • How do we ensure adequate levels of supervision and competency for any High Risk Work activities?
  • How does our team handle any proposed change or differences in design, methodology, plant and equipment during High Risk Work activities?

Further information

If you would like further information about anything included in this HPI OSH Alert, please contact Charis Neumann, Snr OSH Analyst Incidents, (08) 6330 6629.