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worker on elevating working platform

EWP pre-start checklist & safety rules to live by

SafeWork NSW inspectors regularly “blitz” construction sites to ensure workers are compliant and working safely at heights (for some insight, see the 2020 blitz report from SafeWork NSW). If you and your team are not addressing the risks associated with falling from heights, you could receive an on-the-spot fine. 

Elevated Work Platforms (EWPs) should be inspected prior to use and can be reported and viewed in the pre-operational inspection checklist found in the logbook. 

To make the process easier, we’ve shared some basic information to include in your checklist based on SafeWork NSW requirements. Plus, we cover some FAQs about working at heights and the benefits of refresher courses and training.

Note: this is basic information only, and we recommend contacting SafeWork NSW on 13 10 50 for more information about how to protect yourself and your team from the risks of working at heights. 


Your EWP pre-start checklist based on SafeWork NSW requirements

completing EWP pre-start checklist

Falls from heights are one of the leading killers on NSW construction sites. With this in mind, SafeWork NSW has created a simplified checklist for their construction “blitz” and a list of items you must check prior to operating an elevated work platform (EWP).

This is to be used by principal contractors and site supervisors to complete basic inspections and look for common hazards relating to working at heights. 

You can view a guide here from Safework Australia. Please note that this is a guide only and you should always follow manufacturer’s specifications when doing a pre-start check.


Scaffolding Checklist

  • Evidence of scaffolding licence, where workers or materials could fall 4 metres or more
  • All planks and hop-ups in place (no gaps in decks/platforms)
  • Edge protection is complete (no missing top rails, mid rails or toe boards)
  • Adequate access/egress to scaffold decks
  • Gaps between hop-ups/decks and building edges no greater than 225mm (horizontal)
  • Gaps between hop-ups/decks and building edges no greater than 300mm (vertical)
  • Scaffold is appropriately supported on the ground and tied to the building
  • Workers have been advised the scaffold must not be altered by unlicensed persons
  • An adequate handover certificate has been provided by the scaffolder
  • Loads placed on the scaffold are within its duty rating.

Voids & Edges Checklist

  • Voids covered, secured and marked, or physical barriers in place
  • Adequate system in place for access/egress between levels
  • Roof rails or perimeter scaffolding in place for roofing works
  • Edges adequately protected to prevent falls (scaffold or guarding)
  • Excavations and pits adequately secured to prevent falls (fencing, covers, barriers)
  • Controls in place to prevent falls through fragile/brittle roofs such as asbestos, plastic roof sheeting and skylights (e.g. roof mesh, barriers, exclusion zones).

Formwork Checklist

  • Formwork components in good order
  • Adequate access/egress to formwork decks
  • Adequate systems in place to prevent falls from formwork edges
  • Systems in place for construction/dismantling of formwork from below.

Ladder Checklist

  • Ladders used for appropriate activities
  • Ladders in good condition and rated for industrial use
  • Set up correctly (1:4/grounded/tied at top/etc.).

Mobile Scaffolds, EWPs and Fall Arrest/Restraint Checklist

  • Mobile scaffolds located on firm ground with no missing components
  • Elevating work platforms (EWP) are suitable and maintained in good working order
  • Boom-type elevating work platform (WP) high-risk work licence held, where boom length is 11 metres or more
  • Anchorages, harnesses and lanyards meet Australian standards, are in good order and within the manufacturers remove from service date
  • Evidence of training for use of harnesses and associated equipment.

Documentation & Consultation Checklist

  • Safe work method statements (SWMS) available for high-risk work
  • Induction records for the site (including induction of SWMS)
  • Plant maintenance records are available
  • Emergency control plan in place
  • Toolbox talks and site meetings are occurring in relation to work health and safety matters that affect those workers.

FAQs about working at heights 

Whether you have extensive experience working at heights or you’re in training, you will undoubtedly come across areas of compliance that are unclear or confusing. With this in mind, we have answered some FAQs about working at heights and EWPs to ensure you work safely and responsibly. 


What rules should you follow when determining the weight to place in an EWP?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as it depends on the working load limit of the EWP. The total weight of the personnel, tools and material being loaded onto the platform must not exceed the EWP’s rated load capacity — to find this information, refer to the safe working load decal displayed on the EWP. 


What rules must you follow when travelling in an EWP?

Mobile EWPs (or wheel-mounted EWPs) supported on wheels when elevated must be free of damage that could result in instability.

Most self-propelled mobile EWPs are fitted with solid or foam tyres, but some are fitted with pneumatic tyres. In this case, the EWP must not be able to elevate without activating the in-built stabilisers, and the tyres must be: F

  • Free of defects
  • Inflated to the correct pressure.

You must also be aware of overhead structures and follow a “lower-before-travel” policy so you can completely clear any overhead structures before driving or travelling in the unit. This includes powerlines — extreme caution must be used when operating a mobile EWP near powerlines. 

Other rules include:

  • Base controls should not be used when workers are on the platform (except in the event of an emergency or for maintenance purposes).
  • Support personnel must be on the ground to assist the mobile EWP operator. This personnel must provide a line of sight for the operator, spot overhead hazards, assist the operator if the EWP mechanisms fail and help the operator if they are ejected from the EWP and suspended in a safety harness.
  • Support personnel and the EWP operator must have an agreed system of communication, e.g. hand signalling, radio communication, whistles and frequent verbal contact. 

What do I need to know about positioning when using a mobile EWP?

The positioning of a mobile EWP must be carefully assessed, especially where there are overhead powerlines, underground services, high winds, slopes and ground cavities. The condition of the ground surface should also be assessed to ensure the work can be performed safely and effectively from the platform. 

When planning positioning, ensure that access to the emergency descent device is not obstructed and all operations can be performed within the exclusion zone. 


Improve safety and efficiency working at heights by completing an EWP ticket

At All Class Training, we offer nationally-accredited EWP training. At our state-of-the-art facility in Newcastle, NSW, you will learn the essential skills required to work safely at heights and secure the safety of you and your teammates. Contact us to book EWP training today.