A worker has died after a wire rope being used as a handrail appears to have parted as he leaned against it and resulted in him falling onto the ground.

Initial examination of the wire rope has found corrosion at the site of the parting. It is unclear at this stage whether there had been prior damage but the wire rope was covered with a material that was not transparent.

The rope in this particular case was used on a vehicle that was regularly exposed to a marine environment but the advice below applies to all such situations.

Final conclusions about the cause of this particular accident have not been made but in the interim WorkSafe is urging companies to make sure that the use of handrails systems are:

  • based on sound risk assessments
  • properly designed for risks they are protecting against
  • constructed so they can be easily maintained and/or inspected
  • regularly inspected and replaced/repaired when needed.

Advice should be sought from competent persons regarding the expected life of handrails and the type of inspection systems required to keep them safe.