OHS Code Explanation Guide

Published Date: July 01, 2009
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Part 32 Excavating and Tunnelling

Section 461 Underground shafts

Subsection 461(1)

No explanation required.

Subsection 461(2)

No explanation required.

Subsection 461(3)

A variety of workers and equipment is likely to be present around a location where an underground shaft is being excavated. A means of protection must be provided to prevent workers, materials and equipment from falling into the shaft opening. This could involve the use of a solidly built fence, a barricade of concrete blocks, a retaining wall, or other equally effective means.

To provide a means of worker access to each underground shaft entrance, gates not less than 1 metre in height must be installed. The employer must ensure that the gate design, gate operating procedures and worker practices are such that the gates are kept closed except when being used.

Subsection 461(4)

In addition to the employer having to ensure that the gates required by subsection (3)(b) are kept closed when not in use, each worker is also responsible for keeping the gates closed when not in use. Section 2(2) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act requires each worker to take reasonable care to protect the health and safety of himself or herself, and other workers present while that worker is working.

Subsection 461(5)

Water can introduce an unacceptable hazard since it can cause the walls or supporting structures of an underground shaft to deteriorate. The accumulation of water must therefore be controlled. The employer must ensure that suitable, efficient machinery or devices are available for this purpose.