|24 Nov 2010, Ref: 1011075
WSH Alert – Worker Fell from Scaffold Platform in a Lift-Well / Hoistway
Recently at a construction worksite, a worker fell to his death while working on top a working platform of a scaffold erected inside a lift-well/hoistway. He was assisting his co-workers in dismantling timber formwork panels from the internal wall of the lift-well/hoistway. The worker landed in the lift pit 9m below the platform (Figure 1). Slip-and-trip hazards that were likely due to poor housekeeping practices were also observed at the worksite.
Figure 1: Worker fell 9m from working platform
1. Risk assessment: A risk assessment must be carried out by experienced and knowledgeable persons before starting any work. Through the risk assessment, employers and workers can identify hazards and take appropriate actions to eliminate the hazards or reduce the risks involved. Control measures and safe work procedures must be established, communicated and implemented to ensure the safety and health of the workers. In this case, one critical hazard would be falling from height, and adequate risk control measure would need to be considered and implemented.
2. Workplace safety and health management programme: Employers should establish and implement a Safety and Health policy, and safety management system with proper control measures and safe work procedures. This includes a fall protection plan for any works that may involve workers falling from a height. The safety and health programme must be clearly communicated to all levels of personnel, such as through refresher courses or daily toolbox meetings.
3. Fall prevention / protection / arrest system: Work at height must be made safe through fall prevention or protection measures first. This can include safe access and egress where the workplace is adequately barricaded or guarded to prevent falls. Further considerations include fall arrest and engineered systems with anchorage points as explained below:
- Fall Arrest: An individual fall arrest system protects the worker by stopping his fall so that he does not strike the ground. A full body harness with a self-retracting lifeline or a shock absorber and a lanyard are suitable for fall arrest once anchored securely. A 100% tie-off procedure is recommended for such case. The procedure requires twin-tailed lanyards that allow users to remain anchored to one point of anchorage with one lanyard, while transferring to another point of anchorage with the second one.
- Engineered Systems: Engineered systems such as horizontal lifelines could be installed according to the design by a professional engineer. Deviating from the design can result in the system not functioning as it rightfully should and can result in potentially unsafe conditions for workers.
4. Ensure proper supervision: Employers should ensure that workers adhere to the established safe work procedures, e.g. by ensuring that workers follow the fall protection plan when working at height and disciplining workers who exhibit unsafe acts and do not comply with the safe work procedures.
5. Housekeeping and Material Storage: The risk of falls due to tripping and slipping can be reduced by proper planning for material storage and good housekeeping. Such good practices not only result in a cleaner and
safer workplace, but also improve productivity.
1. Workplace Safety and Health Act (Chapter 354A), please click here
2. Workplace Safety and Health (General Provisions) Regulations, please click here
3. Workplace Safety and Health (Risk Management) Regulations, please click here
4. Workplace Safety and Health (Construction) Regulations, please click here
5. Code of Practice for Working Safely at Height, please click here
6. Singapore Standard SS 528 : Part 1: 2006 Personal Fall Arrest Systems – Full-body harnesses
7. Singapore Standard SS 528 : Part 2: 2006 Personal Fall Arrest Systems – Lanyards and energy absorbers
8. Singapore Standard SS 528 : Part 3: 2006 Personal Fall Arrest Systems – Self-retracting lifelines
9. Singapore Standard SS 528 : Part 5: 2006 Personal Fall Arrest Systems – Connectors with self-closing and self-locking gates
* Please note that the information provided is not exhaustive and for the benefit of enhancing workplace safety and health so that a recurrence may be prevented. The information provided is not to be construed as implying any liability to any party nor should it be taken to encapsulate all the responsibilities and obligations of the reader of WSH Alert under the law.