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Drowning in lined liquid waste pond

News | November 21, 2016 | By:

According to a press release issued by the WorkSafe Division of the Western Australia Department of Commerce, a person engaged to assist with the day-to-day activities at a septic liquid waste pond facility drowned when he slipped into one of the ponds. On the day of the incident, the man was required to manually stop the water pump that controlled the level of liquid waste in the pond.

The pond where the man drowned contained liquid waste 3m (almost 10ft) deep. The pond walls are steep and they were lined with a geomembrane. There were no surrounding barriers to prevent him from slipping into the pond.

The press release said that there were three contributing factors in this accident:

  • There were no physical barriers around the waste ponds.
  • No safe systems of work were in place when workers were required to enter the liquid waste pond area.
  • The use of a manually operated water pump that required entry into the liquid waste pond area.

The release also noted six action items:

  • Ensure that physical barriers are suitable and designed to prevent access to liquid waste ponds.
  • Installation of an automated water pump.
  • Safe systems of work, including instruction, information, training, and supervision for persons entering the liquid waste pond area.
  • Provide appropriate devices to assist workers to exit the liquid waste pond.
  • Adequate warning signage.
  • Regular inspections to ensure that systems of work remain effective.

For more information, WorkSafe’s website:; customer service: 1300 307 877; or email:

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