OSH alert – Fall from height (March 2015)

Key learnings from a High Potential Incident.

Fall from heights icon

HPI OSH Alert #465

Date of incident: 30 March 2015

Safety Flash issued: 1 April 2015

465scaffoldWhat happened?

While constructing a modular scaffold system a contractor has fallen approximately 2m from the scaffold when a section of staircase moved and collapsed. The worker sustained a knock to the head during the fall and lost consciousness but regained it shortly afterwards.

An ambulance was called and the worker was medically assessed at the nearest hospital. The worker was released with instructions to attend a follow up medical review the following day. At this review, the worker was deemed fit for work and has returned to work on full duties.

Why did this happen?

  • The contractor had a general scaffolding Safe Work Instruction in place; however a specific methodology was not developed for erection of this type of scaffold.
  • Workers were not familiar with the particular type of scaffolding (modular cuplock type). The supervisor assumed competency based on qualifications held by the workers.
  • The workers did not erect the scaffold to the design specification, meaning the scaffold was not level/square and bracing couldn’t be installed.
  • There was a lack of supervision due to two separate concrete pours being completed on the same morning.

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

The Contractor will:
  • ensure an additional supervisor is made available to focus specifically on high risk works, and the issuing of permits for such works
  • train supervisors in relevant high risk work procedures
  • develop a work instruction specific to this type of scaffold.

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

  • OSH Branch to review the OSH Management Plan Desktop Assessment’s adequacy to assess contractors supervision of High Risk Work activities
  • OSH Branch to clarify the use of the OSH Management Plan Desktop Assessment in WC-OSH-24 Selection and Management of Contractors
  • Project Management Branch (PMB) to consider erection of scaffolds as a high risk activity when applying the PMB Health, Safety, Environment & Quality risk based planning tool.


What key learnings can you discuss with your team to stop this from happening again?

  • 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 Incident Management on (08) 6330 6629.

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