Hazard identification tool - Formwork

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All documents issued prior to 1 July 2017 were issued by the former Department of Commerce. Documents listed here are the latest versions available, but may be subject to review. For more information on this document, please contact online@dmirs.wa.gov.au.

This publication is for: 
BuilderEmployee / workerEmployer

This educational article has been developed to assist in the identification of occupational safety and health (OSH) hazards. The hazard identification tools were developed following interviews with principal contractors and subcontractors, which highlighted the accurate identification of hazards as significant in the successful management of subcontractor safety.

The hazard identification tools have been adapted from a series of hazard profiles developed by the University of New South Wales and WorkCover NSW and modified to reflect West Australian terminology and practice. This was achieved in consultation with WorkSafe Inspectors and the Construction Industry Safety Advisory Committee of the Commission for Occupational Safety and Health.

Hazard identification tools can be used as a guide to help:

  • identify generic hazards and the controls required for a job task;
  • assist in formulating relevant and effective safe work method statements;
  • guide or induct new workers in the typical hazards for a specific trade; and
  • check that all general trade specific hazards have been identified in safety documentation required by the principal contractor.
Hazard identification tool - Formwork
Job activity
(Tasks)
What can harm
you (Hazards)
What can happen
(Risks)
Causes which need to be
managed (Controlled)
General planning Inadequate training, consultation, planning and improvisation Task specific  injuries due to inexperience, inadequate consultation or failure to provide and use appropriate equipment
  • Insufficient skills (competency) to complete the required task.
  • Inadequate consultation with  relevant employees.
  • Inadequate competent supervision.
  • Planning for required equipment not carried out.
  • Improvisation using inappropriate equipment.
Planning by Principal Contractor or Subcontractor depending on contract conditions Insufficient lighting Walk into objects, slips, trips, fall & other injuries
  • Poor lighting provided to the  work face, especially in basement and other enclosed areas.
  • Access ways not suitably defined or lighted.
  Poor access Slips, trips and  falls; abrasions, strains and sprains; manual handling injuries
  • Access to work area cluttered – poor housekeeping.
  • Area around work area cluttered with stored materials and/or rubbish.
  • Inadequate access for formworkers and their equipment.
  Unstable ground

Fall from unsteady formwork.

Formwork collapse

  • Insufficient ground preparation.
  Inadequate  electrical supply to work area

Electric shock, burns or electrocution

  • Trip over extra long leads. 
  • Electrical supply not provided within 30 metres of the work area.
  • Several extension leads connected together (in series).
General planning  by Subcontractor Exposure to ultra violet light, glare Skin cancer; sunburn, eye damage
  • Personal protective clothing – sunscreen 15-30+, shirt, flap on hard hat not worn. 
  • AS rated sunglasses not worn.
Moving equipment from  stacked location to work area Use of a forklift to move materials

Struck by forklift

Possible rollover

  • Repetitive lifting of frames and other materials.
  • Frames stacked upside down causing additional handling to turn over
  • Operator not competent and/or inexperienced.
  • Reversing buzzer and/or flashing light not working.
  • Operator or pedestrian not watching.
  • No defined areas for vehicle to operate or defined areas not clearly marked.
  • Not wearing seat belt.
  • Unauthorised use of forklift.
Placing sole plates Foundation for formwork Fall from unstable formwork or with collapse
  • Soft and uneven ground.
  • Packing, e.g. sand, gets washed or blown away.
Initial setup of first (ground level) frames Manual handling Strains, sprains and fractures
  • Lifting frames to put screw jacks under.
  First frame not positioned correctly Struck by frame
  • Unsupported frames – Bracing not used to support first frame.
  Bracing not secured correctly Fingers trapped by unsecured brace
  •  Fingers trapped by unsecured brace – pin not locked in position.
  • Frames upside down – pins will not lock causing bracing to fall off.
Placing working planks on first frames Manual handling Strains, sprains and fractures
  • Lifting planks up onto frames. 
  • Other end of plank misses frame.
  Frames greasy, wet or unstable Fall from frame or bracing
  • Climbing up frames/braces onto working planks.
 

Plank unsecured

Damaged planks

Fall from working planks
  • Faulty plank breaks.
  • Wrong planks – steel used.
  • Planks too long creating unsupported ends (trap).
  Use of aluminium or step ladders Ladder shifts causing a fall when stepping from the ladder onto working platform
  • Uneven or soft ground.
  • Movement between metal ladder and metal frame.
  • Unsecured ladder.
Erecting second level frames and bracing Manual handling Strains sprains and fractures
  • Ground level person lifting and passing frames up. 
  • Formworker lifting frames while standing on working planks. 
  • No job rotation.
  Working at height on a narrow platform Fall from working planks

Loss of balance:

  • due to weight and awkwardness of frame being lifted when fixing braces.
  • Bottom bracing pins not secured first.
  • due to difficulty in establishing frame ends on spigots that are damaged, rusted or burred.
  • due to high wind.
Transferring working planks from first to second level frames Manual handling Strains, sprains and fractures
  • Lifting and moving planks to frames above.
  Moving planks to next level Fall from second level frames or bracing
  • Standing on frames to reposition planks to next level, not two planks.
  • Frames greasy, wet or unstable.
  • Climbing on frames/braces to access working planks next level.
  • Loss of balance due to wind.
  • No edge protection.
  Passing up tools and equipment Hit on the head or body by objects dropped from above
  • Falling tools.
  • Loss of grip on frame, bracing or planks.
  • Falling spigot – missed when thrown/passed up.
  • Poor co-ordination between two workers.
  • No hard hat.
Erecting third level frames and bracing Manual handling Strains, sprains, and fractures
  • Ground level person lifting and passing frames up.
  • Formworker lifting frames while standing on working planks.
  • Intermediate person on second level frames not used.
  • No job rotation.
  Working at height on a narrow platform Fall from working planks

Loss of balance:

  • due to weight and awkwardness of frame being pulled/lifted up.
  • difficulty in establishing frame ends on spigots – damaged, rusted or burred.
  • when leaning outward to fix braces. Bottom bracing pins not secured first.
  • due to plank ends struck by frame being lifted up.
  • due to high wind.
  Passing up tools and equipment Hit on the head or body by objects dropped from above
  • Falling tools.
  • Loss of grip on frame, bracing or planks.
  • Bucket not used to raise spigots and/or other objects.
  • No hard hat.
Extensions to last frames to form support under existing slab Manual handling Strains, sprains and fractures
  • Ground level person lifting and passing up frames with jack and telescopes attached.
  • Formworker receiving frames with jack attached while standing on working planks.
  • Intermediate person on second level frames not used.
  • No job rotation.
  Positioning frame with jacks attached Jack/s slide down into the top of the frame when positioned hitting hand or fingers
  • Fingers/hands not placed correctly when lifting. 
  • No gloves 
  Working at height on a narrow platform Fall from working planks
  • Working platform not fully planked. 
  • Loss of balance: 
    • due to combined weight (top heavy) of frame and jack. 
    • when leaning outward to fix braces. Bottom bracing pins not secured first. 
    • due to difficulty in establishing frame ends on spigots that are damaged, rusted/burred. 
    • due to high wind. 
 Erecting bearers and joists  Manual handling Strains, sprains and fractures
  • Bearers too long.
  • Timber green or wet – increasing the weight to be lifted.
  • No job rotation.
  Working at height on a narrow platform Fall from frames or working platform
  • Working platform not fully planked.
  • Slip when climbing on bracing.
  • Unsecured joists roll when walked on – not placed on the 'flat'.
  • Joists not cut to size – short overlap is unsupported when walked on.
  • Loss of balance due to weight of bearers – lifting and positioning, and wind.
  Passing up bearers and joists Hit on the head  or body by objects dropped from above
  • Loss of grip on bearer or joist.
  • Timber/s too heavy.
Placing Formply Deck Manual handling Strains, sprains and fractures
  • Lifting up plywood – sheets too large.
  • Crane not used to minimise lifting.
  • No job rotation.
  Working at height on deck Fall through penetration in deck or from the leading edge
  • Wind catches plywood when lifting – causing loss of balance.
  • Loss of balance - fall through framing or from the leading edge.
  • Penetration/s not guarded or covered or cover not secured forming 'trap'.
  Slip and trip hazards on the deck Slip or fall over objects on the deck
  • Trip on nails not hammered flush into deck.
  • Deck wet or oily.
  • Sawdust on the deck creating slippery conditions.
  • Extension lead/s lying on the deck.
  Unsecured objects left on deck Objects blown off the deck by wind
  • Wind catches plywood.
  • Bulk plywood left unsecured.
  • Plywood offcuts not removed.
  Electricity Electric shock, burns or electrocution
  • Electrical equipment faulty.
  • Extension lead faulty.
  • Lead severed by power saw blade.
  • Earth Leakage Switch not installed or maintained on mains supply or portable generator.
  Rotating power saw blade Serious cuts from contact with saw blade
  • Power saw blade unguarded.
  • Guard faulty.
  • Saw blade faulty.
  • Blade damaged causing the saw to catch and jump.
  • Non-use of riving knife.
  Noise  Hearing damage
  • No engineering solution for high noise level, e.g. quieter tool.
  • No temporary sound absorption screen or barrier to protect other persons in the area, e.g. ply or polystyrene.
  • No PPE or incorrect PPE worn for the required task.
  Plywood splinters/ particles flung out by power saw Eye damage from sharp plywood splinters
  • No PPE or incorrect PPE worn for the required task.
  Contact with substance classified as hazardous Short or long term health affect, e.g overcome by vapours, rash, allergy, and disease
  • Risk assessment not undertaken.
  • Alternate (safer) substance not considered.
  • No MSDS provided.
  • No PPE or incorrect PPE worn for the required task.
  • Safety instructions ignored and/or training in safe use of the substance not provided.
  Form oil Skin rashes or allergies
  • No PPE or incorrect PPE worn for the required task. 
Propping deck from below  Prop/s not adequately secured Acrow prop falls over hitting worker
  • Prop not secured sufficiently. 
  • Prop not laced/tied in. 
  Manual handling Strains, sprains and fractures 
  • Lifting and manoeuvring props. 
  • No job rotation
Stripping Formwork Manual handling Strains, sprains and fractures
  • Lifting and passing down materials. 
  • Lifting down frames including jacks. 
  • Large sheets hard to fit between frames. 
  Insufficient lighting Walk into objects, slips, trips, fall & other injuries
  • Poor lighting provided to the work face, especially when stripping.
  Poor access

Trip over materials

  • Timbers and other materials stacked across access ways.
  • Stripped materials not progressively cleaned up and stacked.
  Nails in timber  Puncture wounds
  • Stripped materials not progressively denailed, cleaned up and stacked.
  • No PPE or incorrect PPE worn for the required task.
  Stripping materials from below Hit by falling objects
  • Area not barricaded off (no Bunding tape).
  • Uncontrolled lowering of deck and materials.
  Working at height on platform Fall from frames or working platform
  • Burrs on spigots causing loss of balance when dismantling frames (hard to pull off).
  • Climbing on bracing or frames.
Stripping Column Forms Protruding column form clamps Walk into column form clamp
  • Not watching.
  • Insufficient lighting provided.
  Electricity (angle grinder) Electric shock, burns or electrocution
  • Electrical equipment faulty.
  • Grinder not fitted with 'Dead Mans' switch.
  • Extension lead faulty.
  • Lead severed by angle grinder disk.
  • Earth Leakage Switch not installed on mains supply or portable generator.
  High speed rotating angle grinder disk Serious cuts
  • Angle grinder disk unguarded.
  • Guard faulty.
  • Wrong type of cutting disk used.
  • Cutting disk overly worn or damaged.
  Noise from power tool Hearing damage
  • No engineering solution for high noise level, e.g. quieter tool.
  • No temporary sound
  • Absorption screen or barrier to protect other persons in the area, e.g. ply or polystyrene.
  • No PPE or incorrect PPE worn for the required task.
  Sparks Burns, eye damage, fire
  • No PPE or incorrect PPE worn for the required task.
  • Combustible materials near sparks.
  • No fire extinguisher near work area.

 

WorkSafe
Fact sheet
Last updated 13 May 2014

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