NT WorkSafe recently urged all workplaces across the Northern Territory to urgently check that the septic tank lids on their property are safe and secured after two separate incidents in which children have fallen into septic tanks at separate commercial establishments in the Northern Territory.
In December 2021 in the Katherine region, an 18-month-old child playing outside of their accommodation fell head-first through an unsecured lid into a septic tank.
Fortunately, the child’s older sibling saw the incident and managed to rescue the toddler from the tank.
The second incident occurred last week at a commercial establishment in the Barkly Region, where a four-year-old child fell through an unsecured lid into a full septic tank after using the establishment’s communal toilets. The child’s parent witnessed the incident and was able to rescue their child.
NT WorkSafe said unsecured or fragile septic tank lids are a major hazard if access to the lid is not limited or controlled.
There is a risk of a fatal incident occurring if someone falls into a septic tank, this risk is significantly higher if the person is a young child.
Unfortunately, incidents of young children dying after falling into septic tanks have been reported in Australia and around the world.
Septic tanks fall within the definition of a confined space under the Work Health and Safety (National Uniform Legislation) Act and Regulations.
NT WorkSafe strongly urges all workplaces that have septic tanks on their properties to ensure the following measures are in place, and that they are effective: