News Article

WorkSafe Update on EWP Safety Observers

01 September 2023

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Can a safety observer be in the same EWP for which they are acting as a safety observer for?

 At a recent meeting with WorkSafe, an issue was raised around the role of the safety observer in relation to Elevated Working Platforms (EWP). They have asked us to share their positioning with the industry to ensure everyone is clear on the role of a Safety Observer. 

The function of a safety observer in the ‘Industry standard for the safe operation of EWPs’ includes being able to:

  • warn the operator(s) of hazards and
  • ensure prompt action to rescue the operator(s)

Hazards that may be present with the use of EWPs can include voids or potholes at ground level, overhead obstructions, and powerlines. By being positioned in a similar location to the operator it can reduce ability for the safety observer to identify hazards that may not be immediately observable from the platform, especially if travelling or repositioning the EWP whilst elevated. 

The safety observer cannot fully perform their role if they are in the basket with the operator. If there is a crushing incident (which we have seen this year) with the safety observer in the basket, they may not get access to the controls to lower the basket. The safety observer must at all times be performing their role from the ground. This allows them to take prompt action should they need to rescue the operator. As an  industry we must without hesitation adhere to the industry standards in relation to safety observers and reduce risks associated with working at height. 

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