Managing risks

Identifying hazards with elevating work platforms 

If you’re a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU), you must identify hazards and assess and control risks at your workplace, including risks relating to the use of EWPs. 

To do this, consider the types of EWPs, where they are in your workplace and how they interact with: 

  • other vehicles 

  • pedestrians, and  

  • fixed structures like overhead electric lines. 

Ask EWP operators, crew and others about any problems, including with:  

  • operation 

  • inspection 

  • maintenance 

  • repair 

  • transport  

  • storage requirements. 

Review things already in place, like: 

  • the tasks and types of work that are using EWPs 

  • inspection, test and maintenance records, for example logbooks 

  • incident and injury records, including near misses. 

Common hazards with elevating work platforms 

Some common hazards related to the use of EWPs are: 

  • uneven or unstable ground 

  • working around or beneath overhead structures, trees or electrical lines 

  • traffic and pedestrians 

  • weather hazards 

  • falling objects 

  • machine failure. 

EWPs need maintenance and inspection to stay safe to use. The Guide to inspecting and maintaining elevating work platforms has information on how to do this. 

Controlling risks 

You must aim to eliminate risks, for example, through planning the work so that you don’t need to use an EWP.  

If that’s not possible: 

  • substitute the EWP for something safer, such as fixed scaffolding 

  • isolate the risk from workers, such as using exclusion zones so workers aren’t near the EWP 

  • use engineering controls, such as fitting the EWP with sensing devices to prevent collisions 

To minimise risk further, use: 

  • administrative controls, like training, instruction, supervision and processes – like making sure there aren’t too many workers near the EWP at the same time – and regular maintenance personal protective equipment (PPE), such as full safety harnesses, secured to the anchor point worn by people on the platform of a boom-type EWP.  

A combination of control measures may be used where a single control is not sufficient to minimise the risks. All controls should be monitored and reviewed to ensure they remain effective. 

For more information see the Guide for managing the risks of elevating work platforms.

Review control measures 

Review control measures to ensure they’re working as planned. 

Do this regularly and: 

  • if there are any changes to your workplace or the nature and duration of work 

  • after any incidents or near misses. 

Use elevating work platforms on stable ground 

Ensure the ground is stable and flat, and use appropriate supports if needed. You should:  

  • use the type of EWP appropriate for the work and worksite conditions 

  • regularly check the tyres are inflated 

  • not use the EWP if a competent person assesses the ground as not sufficiently stable. 

Working around or beneath overhead structures, trees or electrical lines 

If there are hazards overhead, consider installing a protective overhead barrier to minimise the risk of crush injuries. 

So far as is reasonably practicable, make sure no person or EWP comes too close to an overhead or underground electrical line. 

Position spotters on the ground to communicate with the EWP operator. They can tell them how close they are to surrounding structures, trees and electrical lines. 

Check that the control measures meet the local electricity supplier’s requirements. 

Traffic and pedestrians 

If there are traffic or pedestrians around: 

  • restrict your site access to people directly involved with the work to minimise the movement of people and mobile plant and vehicles in the area 

  • set up exclusion zones using signs and barriers so people can’t enter an area where the EWP is being used. 

Use traffic controllers when there are other types of mobile plant or traffic in the workplace. This will help ensure the EWP does not collide with any plant, structure or person. 

Weather hazards 

Potential hazards for weather may include: 

  • lightning – do not operate the EWP outdoors if there is a risk of the machine being struck by lightning 

  • high winds - stop work if they may exceed the EWP’s maximum wind speed capacity  

  • rain -– wet ground may cause the EWP to become unstable.  

Falling objects 

If possible, do not use an EWP above people or structures. This will prevent injuries and potential damage if an item falls from the platform. 

Secure all loose items before raising the platform to reduce the risk of falling objects. 

You could also set up: 

  • exclusion zones under the machine. 

  • a falls suspension device to ensure people or items of equipment do not fall to the ground. 

EWP maintenance 

A competent person should carry out inspections in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations, including: 

  • pre-operational 

  • routine 

  • periodic  

  • major inspections.  

These regular inspections help you detect any potential issues, including signs that the machine, or components of the machine: 

  • are wearing 

  • not fit for use 

  • need to be serviced or repaired. 

If there are any issues, make sure the EWP is fixed and safe before anyone uses it. 

Supporting information