Safety alert 03/2011 - Elevating work platform fatal accident

This publication is for: 
Employee / workerEmployer

Two people were carrying out maintenance work from an elevating work platform.  Both had completed the required training and held the appropriate high risk work licence.

The elevating work platform was being operated on a flat grassed area and the boom of the elevating work platform was extended to approximately 20 meters. While crossing the grassed area, the wheel of the elevating work platform travelled over a concealed septic tank. The concrete lid of the tank collapsed, causing the elevating work platform to abruptly lean to one side. The movement caused the telescopic boom to flex and the operator and co-worker fell out of the basket.

Both men were wearing harnesses at the time of the incident, however it is not clear if the operator had the harness connected to the anchor point located in the basket.  The operator was killed and the operator’s co-worker, who was clipped to the basket anchor point, had to be rescued by emergency services.

Contributing factors 

  • The elevated work platform was being operated off-road.
  • Underground services had not been identified.
  • The operator may not have secured the safety harness to an anchor point.

Action required 

  • Consultation and planning of the proposed work must occur with all people involved in the work.
  • Hazard identification must be incorporated into a work plan and/or a safe work method statement that covers all potential risks associated with the work.
  • Underground service diagrams should be consulted prior to commencement of the work.
  • Training must be undertaken and a high risk work licence obtained for working on elevated work platforms.

Further information 

Further information can be obtained from WorkSafe’s website or by contacting customer service on 1300 307 877 or email

This Alert contains safety information following inquires made by WorkSafe about an incident or unsafe practice. The information contained in this Alert does not necessarily include the outcome of WorkSafe’s action with respect to an incident.  WorkSafe does not warrant the information in this Alert is complete or up to date and does not accept any liability to any person for the information in this report or as to its use.

Last updated 29 Jun 2017

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