WorkSafe Victoria recently issued a safety alert about hazards and risk controls associated with working at heights and working with forklifts, following the death of an employee.
The employee 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.
The alert noted that 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, and 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.
Where there is a risk of falling more than two metres, the alert said 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
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