Background

An employee at a Victorian workplace has died after falling from a steel cage while clearing ice from pipework with a fire hose. At the time of the incident the cage was raised on the tines of a forklift.

WorkSafe is currently investigating this incident.

Safety issues

The improper use of work platforms is a common cause of serious incidents, including falls. Employers have a duty to provide and maintain, so far as is reasonably practicable, a safe working environment. This includes eliminating or controlling falling risks when there is a fall hazard of more than two metres.

In addition to falls, there are considerable risks when safe systems of work aren’t in place for tasks involving the use of plant, including forklift work platforms.

Recommended ways to control risks

Where there is a risk of falling more than two metres, employers must eliminate the risk by working from the ground or a solid construction, so far as is reasonably practicable.

If the risk of falling cannot be eliminated, employers must, as far as is reasonably practicable, reduce the risk by using:

  • a passive fall prevention device such as scaffolds, roof safety mesh, or guard railings
  • work positioning systems such as ropes and travel restraints
  • fall arrest systems such as catch platforms, safety nets, and safety harnesses
  • fixed or portable ladders
  • administrative controls

Where forklift work platforms are used, employers should ensure:

  • employees are provided with information and training on the capacity of the forklift and any attachments
  • only appropriate forklift attachments are selected for the task
  • safe work procedures are developed, including emergency response and rescue, if an incident or breakdown occurs
  • work platforms/man cages with a meshed in work area are securely attached to the tines when employees are performing tasks
  • work platforms and designated forklifts comply with Australian Standards
  • persons remain within the forklift platform when it is raised
  • forklift operators hold valid licenses
  • forklift traffic management plans separate pedestrians and mobile powered plants

Legal duties

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act), employers must, so far as reasonably practicable, provide and maintain a working environment that is safe and without risks to the health of employees. This includes identifying risks to health or safety and eliminating or reducing those risks, so far as is reasonably practicable.

Employers must, as far as is reasonably practicable, provide or maintain plant or systems of work that are safe and without risks to health.

Support for people affected by a serious workplace incident

Have you been affected by a workplace fatality, illness or serious injury?

For advice and support, call:

  • Beyondblue: phone 1300 224 636
  • Lifeline: phone 13 11 14

More information