Hazard summary

Recent incidents investigated by the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development involved workers on an elevating work platform being trapped or crushed between the work platform or basket and an obstruction like the ceiling or a beam. Some incidents occurred as a result of workers not being aware of their proximity to these hazards or control functions being inadvertently actuated by the worker’s body while near the hazard.

This resource does not replace the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and its regulations, and should not be used as or considered legal advice. Health and safety inspectors apply the law based on the facts in the workplace.

Location and sectors

Workers accessing heights using an elevating work platform at workplaces throughout Ontario.

Regulatory requirement

Identified hazard

Workers are at risk of being trapped or crushed when operating elevating work platforms. These incidents have involved the operator or other worker being trapped or crushed against fixtures or other obstacles while accessing their work area, or while working at height. Workers have been injured or killed after being trapped or crushed between the railings or control box and obstructions. The incidents could have been prevented by correct planning and preparation, selection of appropriate machinery and proper use.

All workplace parties are to assess risks of trapping and crushing hazards regarding elevating work platforms at their workplace prior to the operation of the equipment. The key to preventing trapping or crushing accidents must be task, equipment and site-specific risk assessment.

Risk assessment should include factors such as travelling to and from the work area, accessing the work, lighting conditions and working at heights.

Elevating work platforms shall be maintained to ensure that the safety factors of the original design are functional, including all controls and safety decals.

Elevating work platform operators are to be trained and familiar with specific equipment and follow the manufacturer’s operating instructions.

Required action

  • All workplace parties are to assess risks of trapping or crushing hazards.
  • Employers and supervisors must take the lead in identifying when trapping or crushing risks are present in the work activities they control. Where trapping or crushing risks are present, extra care is needed and all involved must understand what action is required to avoid or reduce the risks involved.
  • Emergency controls must be located and tested.
  • Ensure that effective rescue procedures have been established should a worker become trapped or crushed.
  • Ensure equipment is be maintained as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Ensure controls and safety devices are operating properly and control decals are legible.
  • Particular attention should be given to lighting levels – additional task lighting or personal lighting may be necessary.
  • Elevating work platform operators are to be trained and familiar with specific equipment operation and follow manufacturer’s operating instructions. Conduct pre-operation inspections as per the manufacturer’s operating manual.
  • The operator of an elevating work platform must be aware of their position in tight areas. Subject to the findings of the risk assessment, an operator should operate the machine with extra care when working near obstructions.
  • Operators working alone in restricted areas may be at risk, as others may not be aware of any distress if the worker becomes trapped or crushed. Constant monitoring and/or communication should be considered, as delay for assistance to the worker may prove fatal.

For more information

Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Partners