OSH alert - Excavation unsafe access egress (May 2016)

Key learnings from a High Potential incident.

Fall from heights iconOSH Alert # 481

Date of incident: 19 May 2016

Safety Flash issued: 1 June 2016


Excavation with no fall preventionWhat happened?

A wastewater industry worker was observed working inside an excavation in excess of 4 meters without any Fall Injury Prevention Systems (FIPS) equipment. FIPS must be in place where there is a potential for a fall of 3m or greater to occur.

Why did this happen?

  • There was no clear definition of the site management’s responsibility for ensuring reviews of Safe Work Method Statements (SWMS) for Work Under Construction (WUC).
  • The site supervisor did not have an appropriate plan and SWMS for tasks undertaken.
  • The site supervisor and work crew’s perception of the risk involved in the task did not align with the Water Corporation’s policy and procedural requirements.

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

  • Site Supervisors will ensure verification of competencies is completed for all site personnel.
  • Site Management for WUC will review current SWMS, and ensure appropriate SWMS are in place and regularly checked for all High Risk tasks.
  • Use toolbox talks to emphasise the importance for workers to stop work if they have any safety concerns.
  • Use toolbox talks to emphasise the importance of visitors and subcontractors participating in a site induction and being made aware of site hazards before they start work.

What will our organisation do to stop this from happening again?

We will review the Asset Delivery Process to ensure:

  • Safety Essentials are evident throughout the entire process and explicitly linked from one part of the process to the next.
  • All contract engagement processes are to be reviewed to establish clear roles and responsibilities, and site access protocols for WUC. (Roles and Responsibilities should beclearly defined in the contractor engagement process)
  • Water Corporation authorised person list and verification of competencies are up to date.


Key points you can discuss with your team to stop this from happening again

1. Is anyone undertaking work that is associated with our Safety Essentials today?

  • Who is the site manager where this task you are performing today is taking place? Operations, Projects, Sub contractor etc.
  • Has the Site manager been informed of the task you are performing today? Confined Space, Lifting, Excavating etc.
  • 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?

2. Ensure there is a formal handover process established to manage the changeover of key functions during high risk tasks

  • Are we doing any high risk tasks today?
  • What situations would require handover of key functions during high risk tasks?
  • What handover process will our team establish and use for changeover of key functions during high risk tasks?

Further information

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