Safety alert 07/2016 - Person drowns in plastic lined liquid waste pond

A person engaged to assist with the day-to-day activities at a septic liquid waste pond facility drowned when he slipped into one of the ponds.  On the day of the incident the person was required to manually stop the water pump that controlled the level of liquid waste in the pond.  The pond in which he drowned contained liquid waste to a depth of three metres, the walls were very steep and lined with a slippery geomembrane.  There were no surrounding barriers to prevent him from slipping into the pond. 

Contributing factors

  • There were no physical barriers around the waste ponds;
  • No safe systems of work were in place when persons were required to enter the liquid waste pond area; and
  • The use of a manually operated water pump that required persons to continually enter the liquid waste pond area.

Action required

  1. Ensure that physical barriers are suitable in nature and design to prevent access to liquid waste ponds
  2. Installation of an automated water pump
  3. Safe systems of work, including instruction, information, training and supervision for persons entering the liquid waste pond area
  4. Provide appropriate devices to assist a person to exit the liquid waste pond
  5. Adequate warning signage
  6. Regular inspections to ensure that systems of work remain effective

Further information

Commission for Occupational Safety and Health Codes of Practice:

Commission for Occupational Safety and Health Guidance notes

Last updated 10 Nov 2016

Share this page:

Last modified: