Source: SafeWork WA.

It has come to the attention of WorkSafe that there are potentially several hundred flying foxes in operation across Western Australia.

A flying fox is an amusement device consisting of an elevated rope on which a pulley or trolley system is used to transport passenger(s) between two support structures. Flying foxes are also called zip lines.

Regulation 5 of the Work Health and Safety (General) Regulations 2022 (WHS General Regulations) defines an amusement device as plant operated for hire or reward that provides entertainment, sightseeing or amusement through movement of the equipment, or part of the equipment, or when passengers or other users travel or move on, around or along the equipment. This means that a flying fox is an amusement device under the WHS General Regulations if a system for payment is in place.

A person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) has duties under Work Health and Safety legislation to ensure the health and safety of workers and others in a workplace, so far as is reasonably practicable. In regard to amusement devices such as flying foxes, this duty includes passengers. 

Read the Health & Safety Bulletin N. 6

Summary of hazard

Factors such as inadequate design, installation, inspection, maintenance and training have contributed to serious injuries and fatalities from flying foxes in the eastern states and overseas.

Passengers are exposed to risks of potential injuries or death if flying foxes do not meet the design requirements of a published technical standard, or their installation, testing, inspection and maintenance do not meet the requirements specified by the designer or manufacturer. For example, the passenger could fall from a height, or hit a structure while moving at speed.

Managing hazards and risks

A risk management approach is the best way to determine the measures that should be implemented to control risks for flying foxes.

Effective risk management starts with a commitment to health and safety from those who operate and manage the business or undertaking. Managing work health and safety risks is an ongoing process. Risk management involves four steps:

  • identify hazards – find out what could cause harm
  • assess risks – understand the possible harm, how serious it could be, and the likelihood of it happening
  • control risks – implement the most effective control measure that is reasonably practicable in the circumstances
  • review control measures to ensure they are working as planned

The aim must always be to eliminate a hazard where reasonably practicable. If elimination of a hazard is not reasonably practicable, the risk needs to be minimised by one or a combination of the following:

Engineering – only use the flying fox in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

Ensure equipment is in good condition and free from any defects. Any components or equipment associated with the flying fox should be used, inspected and maintained according to the manufacturer’s specifications and instructions.

In the absence of any manufacturer’s specifications and instructions, follow the instructions of a competent person. This may mean engaging a competent person to develop instructions for the use, inspection and maintenance of the flying fox.

Administrative controls – if risk remains, it must be minimised by implementing administrative controls, so far as is reasonably practicable. For example:

  • ensuring only authorised persons perform specific tasks
  • ensuring worker training, experience and competency are appropriate for the nature and complexity of their duties
  • before commencing any maintenance work on a flying fox, a competent person should inspect components and equipment to identify any wear, movement or alterations to the system that may adversely affect its safe operation.

Personal protective equipment – any remaining risk must be minimised with suitable personal protective equipment. For example, helmets, harnesses or gloves may be required when using some flying foxes.

Additional information can be found online here.

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