|ELEVATING WORK PLATFORMS|
|Home ®Essentials ® Plant ® Essentials||[Print Format][PDF Format]|
an extract from safetyline magazine No. 20 (November 1993)
reaching new heights in construction and horticulture
Cherry pickers require regular safety inspections.
Cherry-pickers used in orchards and elevating work platforms used during the construction and maintenance of large buildings are both required to comply with AS 1418 Part 10.
Both undergo similar structural stresses when extended, and have similar stability limitations. When pushed beyond their designated safe limits, both tend to tip over, with obvious consequences for those working on them. Both are known as EWPs, short for elevating work platforms.
WorkSafe Western Australia says not only must all EWPs be tested for stability and structural integrity before being used in workplaces, but they must be regularly inspected by an inspector from the department or a competent person.
Two maintenance workers hung suspended by safety harnesses 25 metres in the air after being tipped from an EWP in March 1993.
The incident occurred when the platform bucket on a truck-mounted EWP suddenly turned upside-down - something that should not have happened until the boom was lowered to stowed position.
One of the men received a broken arm in the initial drop, but a cool-thinking ground operator lowered the upturned bucket and men to safety on the ground.
The incident happened at the Alcoa Australia Pinjarra refinery, while the men worked on a refinery structure.
When the EWP left the mine site, it came under WorkSafe Western Australia's jurisdiction. The department's investigation showed the accident had been caused by an electronic failure. Because the machine did not have an electronic fail-safe system as required by Australian Standard 1418(1), it was ordered out of use by WorkSafe Western Australia until the hire-company owners complied.
The main hazard associated with EWPs in orchards is their potential to overturn on uneven ground or steep slopes, or when overloaded - for example when excessively heavy bags of fruit are carried on the platform.
Cherry pickers have also been known to overturn when a make-shift rain shelter rigged on the platform has acted like a sail in a strong wind.
One of WorkSafe Western Australia's concerns is that while initially most proprietary built orchard cherry pickers and scissor hoists are stability tested for use on five degree gradients, many are subsequently used on far steeper inclines.
Another concern is that growers occasionally manufacture or assemble their own EWPs, but neglect to submit them for compulsory design review and tests. EWPs that had been accepted by WorkSafe Western Australia but later modified or structurally altered are required by Occupational Safety and Health Regulations to have the new design resubmitted for review and acceptance.
Lack of training for new or casual orchard workers is also a problem. WorkSafe Western Australia says all new orchard employees, whether they claim to be experienced or not, should be given a reasonable amount of time to make them familiar with safe work procedures, and aware of potential safety and health hazards.