Skip to content

Elevating work platforms

There are a number of hazards associated with elevating work platforms (fixed, adjustable and automated).

These hazards include:

  • falls
  • slips and trips
  • hit by falling object or knife injury (including access and egress)
  • manual handling.

On this page:

Work at height

It is important when you are working at height to think about some of the risks including:

  • height of the platform
  • size of the platform
  • distance between the carcass and the leading edge of the platform
  • cleaning and maintenance of the platforms, including the risk of working with hot water.

Serious injury can arise where the operator falls from the EWP working platform due to:

  • faulty platform gate catches
  • over-balancing while picking fruit or climbing onto platform mid-rails
  • mechanical failure of the levelling rod, boom or hydraulic cylinder mounts
  • ejection from the platform due to rough or obscured ground surface conditions that is enhanced by higher speed of travel
  • machine roll over due to adverse ground surface conditions or higher, less stable machine centre of gravity e.g. travelling with the boom extended
  • electric shock from direct contact with, or electrical arcing from, overhead powerlines.

Serious injury also occurs from jarring contact of the operator with platform guard rails when travelling over rough ground and from accidental movement of the platform leading to body compression against a tree branch or other solid object.

Falls prevention

To prevent anyone falling, the following controls should be considered:

Slips and trips are a major factor in many of the incidents that occur in this industry and can result in different types of injuries, including fall from heights or same level injuries, knife stick injuries and musculoskeletal disorders (sprains and strains).

Safe operation

Requirements to safely operate EWP include:

  • design registration of all newly purchased or modified machines
  • formal training of operators and record keeping of training undertaken
  • assessment of operator competency by a competent person
  • elimination of EWP roll over risk through risk management
  • safe work procedure development to support training and subsequent safe use
  • operator harnessing where an anchor point has been provided
  • documented inspection, maintenance and repair procedures
  • lock-out procedures that exclude worker access to faulty machines.

Worker/operator obligations

The operator of an EWP must ensure:

  • operation is authorised and in accordance with the safe work procedure
  • mechanical faults are reported
  • pre-operational checks are undertaken
  • safe working load (SWL) or maximum rated capacity of the platform is not exceeded
  • operating speed is consistent with load, terrain and weather conditions and does not exceed the maximum recommended by the manufacturer
  • either a lower body or full body harness is worn that is connected to the platform anchor point by a short lanyard. Where absence of an anchor point negates wearing a harness a secondary gate restraint is engaged unless the manufacturer's design prevents ejection from the platform.

Operating instruction plate or label

The EWP manufacturer must supply an operating instruction plate or durable label with the machine that sets out the rated SWL on the platform and safe working incline for its operation. The date, name and address of the manufacturer and the maximum platform height must also be provided.

SWL = weight in kilograms (platform equipment + operator + fruit harvested)

Overhead powerlines

Extreme caution must be exercised when operating in the vicinity of overhead powerlines.

Work must be carried out in such a way to ensure that no person or conductive hand held equipment or any part of the platform being used in the vicinity of a power line can enter the exclusion zone set out in Schedule 2, . Exclusion zones vary depending on whether the person is 'authorised' by the owner of the powerline, 'instructed' by the authorised person or is 'untrained'. They also depend on the voltage and insulation status of the overhead powerline.

An explanation of the terminology used and other guidance for working near powerlines is provided in the Electrical Safety Code of Practice 2010 – Working near overhead and underground electric lines (PDF, 0.47 MB)

More information on working near energised electrical parts.


The relevant person should keep records of EWP operation, maintenance, structural inspections and training of workers for the following time periods:

  • pre-operation or daily checks – one year
  • pre-harvest and routine inspection and maintenance – life of machine
  • third party mechanical and structural inspections – life of machine
  • EWP operator training – duration of employment.

Further information