QLD: worker injured after fall from earthmoving machinery

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of members. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Thursday, 8 October, 2020 - 12:00
Incidents & prosecutions

A worker in Queensland recently suffered serious injuries after falling from an earthmoving machine he was apparently doing maintenance on.

Early investigations indicate the man fell while exiting the machine, and investigations into the incident are continuing.

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland said the operation of powered mobile plant which includes but is not limited to earthmoving machinery at workplaces, exposes people to a range of health and safety risks. These include:

  • plant operators and service personnel falling from earthmoving equipment during an onsite inspection, maintenance or repairs. (Source – Worksafe Victoria)
  • the plant colliding or contacting people or objects such as other vehicles or plant and energised powerlines
  • the plant overturning
  • objects falling on the operator
  • the operator being ejected from the plant

People required to operate or work around powered mobile plant may also be exposed to excessive noise and vibration, hazardous fumes, and musculoskeletal hazards (e.g. access to plant, operator controls).

Designers, manufacturers, importers and suppliers all have health and safety duties to provide information about plant to enable other duty holders to fulfil the responsibilities they have in managing the risks associated with plant, including access. This information must be given to each person to whom the plant (or its design) is provided.

In addition, the person conducting the business or undertaking (PCBU) must manage the risk of falls associated with powered mobile plant when carrying out maintenance, inspection or repair work. Managing work health and safety risks is an ongoing process and involves four steps, which are: identifying hazards, assessing risks, controlling risks and reviewing control measures to ensure they are effective. Once the risks have been assessed, the next step is to implement control measures to manage the risks associated with accessing mobile plant.

Effective control measures are often made up of a combination of controls. Risk control measures may include, but are not limited to:

  • Elimination: removing the hazard or hazardous work practices associated is the most effective way to control risks. Work from the ground or on solid construction, where it is reasonably practicable.
  • Engineering controls: this involves changing physical characteristics of the plant to reduce the risk.
  • Administrative controls: this includes information, training, instruction or supervision necessary to control the risks associated with plant. All operating manuals and instructional material provided by the manufacturer should be kept showing how to correctly operate and maintain the plant.
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE): any remaining risk must be minimised with suitable personal protective equipment.

Administrative control measures and PPE rely on human behaviour and supervision, and used on their own, tend to be least effective in minimising risks. The control measures you put in place should be reviewed regularly to make sure they work as planned.