This safety alert highlights the importance of contractor management and detailed job planning.

What happened

A worker fell from four metres to the ground when completing a walkway improvement project. The worker was tasked with removing an elevated walkway that was fixed to the side of an aggregate screen, at a quarry operation.

The incident occurred when the worker was removing bolts securing the walkway to the structure, causing the walkway to fall. The walkway was partly held in place by a crane. Because of the crane support, the worker assumed that there was sufficient structural integrity and continued working on the walkway. The structure was in two parts and connected by a handrail and when the worker cut the handrail, part of the walkway failed causing the worker to fall to the ground with part of the walkway

This incident highlights the importance of managing contractors and Job Safety and Environmental Analysis (JSEA) documentation. The JSEA was signed off by senior quarry personnel and they did not challenge the lack of detail in the document.

What we know

The JSEA was inadequate. It lacked critical steps involved in completing the work and did not include the critical controls for preventing falling objects or workers working at height. The sign off of a poor quality JSEA is an acceptance of controls that may not address all risks to workers. The operator did not maintain appropriate oversite of the plan and assumed the contractor would complete a full step by step JSEA and that this would be communicated to workers.

[Image] Image of Quarry conveyor belt.
Walkway where incident took place

WorkSafe advice

  • Operators should ensure that all work be effectively risk assessed with input from workers and appropriately detailed JSEA’s are provided to workers to undertake work safely. Those that undertake risk assessments should be suitably trained in the process.
  • There should be a competent person to approve the actual implementation of JSEA for any safety critical work.
  • Any structure should be considered unstable after removal of any bolt or brace unless the integrity is confirmed by a suitably qualified person.

References and further information

Load lifting and rigging

Working at height 

(Christchurch Readymix Concrete - YouTube(external link)