In May 2018, a worker was pinned and crushed by a personnel and materials hoist on a multi-storey building project on the Gold Coast. He was working on the roof of Car 1 of the dual carriage hoist and was connected via a safety harness attached to Car 2. Our investigation to date indicates that Car 2 started automatically and as it moved up, he was lifted by his harness and pinned against a structural tie. The hoist operator then activated the emergency stop button bringing the hoist to a halt.
Our initial inspection of the hoist indicates it was in automatic mode negating the need for the operator to operate a constant pressure switch at the main control panel. Investigations are continuing.
Preventing a similar incident
Hoists should be fitted with a device to prevent inadvertent operation, with controls that return automatically to a stop position when they are released, or a constant pressure switch to control the motion of the car, and an emergency stop button. Similar controls should also be fitted to the roof of a car including a switch that ensures movement of the device can only be controlled by the person on the roof. These devices prevent a car from moving unless directly under the control and supervision of an operator.
Owners and suppliers of personnel and material hoists operating in Queensland are strongly encouraged to ensure the main control panel of the car is fitted with a constant pressure switch that the operator is required to activate for the car to move. We consider that operating a hoist without a constant pressure switch at the main control panel is not providing an adequate level of safety.
Duty holders should also ensure suitable systems are in place for working at heights. Workers should only attach to designated certified anchorage points that are free from obstruction, and interference from moving objects. When working on the roof of a car on a hoist, ensure that access is only made through the access door of that car, and if required, the hoist car is controlled from the roof by that person. Never access the roof by climbing from another car or from another part of a structure.
Since 2012, there have been 22 accepted workers' compensation claims for serious injuries involving hoists in the construction industry. Of these, 15 involved being hit by moving machinery or objects, or being trapped between stationary and moving objects.
In the same period, we have issued 16 improvement notices, 13 prohibition notices and 1 infringement notice for issues associated with hoists on construction sites.
Prosecutions and compliance
In 2015, a company was fined $40,000 after a rigger's foot and ribs were fractured when a hoist car collided with him. The rigger was required to access the mast of the hoist to perform work, but the hoist operator forgot he was on the mast and moved the hoist.
- Australian Standard AS 1418.7-1999 Cranes - Safe use - Part 7: Builders' hoists and associated equipment
- Checklist - planning the safe set-up and operation of personnel and materials hoists (DOCX, 0.04 MB)
- WHSQ - Cranes
- How to manage work health and safety risks code of practice 2021 (PDF, 0.65 MB)
- Managing risks of plant in the workplace code of practice 2021 (PDF, 1.57 MB)
- Managing the risk of falls at workplaces code of practice 2021 (PDF, 3.9 MB)