This alert highlights the potential risks of falling from a height at a waste management facility such as a landfill, waste transfer station or resource recovery centre.

BACKGROUND

In 2014 there were two incidents at waste management facilities where a member of the public received fatal injuries.

In one incident, a person fell from a transfer platform into a waste bin. To unload waste directly into the bin, the person backed their utility vehicle under the chain that ran along the edge of the platform. While trying to unravel the chain from the back of the vehicle, they fell into the bin.

In the other incident, a person fell from the back of their pantech truck into a compactor (or push) pit. The person was at the commercial side of the pit at the time, which did not have edge protection as it was only intended for trucks that mechanically tip waste into the pit.

ACTION REQUIRED

Business owners and workers of a waste management facility should review their site for potential risks of falling from heights. Where possible, eliminate risk of falls - eg by providing ground level disposal. If the risk can’t be eliminated, risks should be minimised.

Control measures may include:

  • In all areas:
    • use wheel stops and line markings to keep all vehicles a safe distance from edges
    • install safety signs at all disposal points – pictorial diagrams work best
    • provide supervision and instruction to everybody using the facility.
  • In public areas, where waste is manually disposed:
    • design, install and maintain edge protection – eg a solid railing or wall – for all push pits and transfer platforms, or where there is the risk of a person falling
    • install a chute or something similar to allow waste disposal a safe distance from the edge
    • provide a drop off facility for waste that is too heavy or awkward to push through a chute or over a wall or railing
    • keep disposal areas clean and tidy.
  • In commercial areas, where waste is mechanically disposed:
    • limit access to commercial tipping vehicles only; utes, trailers, pantechs, flatbeds or vehicles that have a fixed tray or need to be manually unloaded should be directed to public areas
    • provide edge protection where practical
    • ensure there is adequate supervision and instruction for anyone who is allowed entry to the commercial access point of a pit.
  • Provide all visitors to the facility with safety information, including instructions at facility entry points, about what is required in regard to fall hazards and fall prevention.
  • Ensure all facility workers are adequately trained in workplace health and safety, particularly fall prevention and traffic management. Businesses with workers that visit waste management facilities should also receive training.

FURTHER INFORMATION

The Waste Contractors and Recyclers Association of NSW provides training in workplace health and safety in waste management facilities. Call them on (02) 9604 7206 for details.

Australian Standard 1657 provides information about the design, construction and installation of fixed platforms, walkways, stairways and ladders.

The Code of practice for managing falls at workplaces covers information about fall prevention devices, emergency procedures and other useful tips.

Detailed information on the hierarchy of controls is on page 13 of the code of practice on how to manage work health and safety risks.

Call SafeWork NSW on 13 10 50 or visit our working at heights page for more information.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

We acknowledge the Waste Contractors and Recyclers Association of NSW for their assistance in developing this safety alert.

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