Where there is work at height to be done, the MEWP is one of the safest ways to accomplish it. But it requires proper planning and trained operators, says the sector’s representative body IPAF.
Mobile Elevating Work Platforms (MEWPs), a familiar sight on construction sites, are one of the best ways to perform temporary work at height. IPAF’s Powered Access Rental Market Reports estimate that there are about 50,000 platforms in the UK – 60% of them are scissor lifts, 32% are booms and 8% are other types.
MEWPs are productive, safe and efficient, but even with the safest equipment, accidents to happen. Contractors and site managers are, naturally, concerned about the safety of work equipment being brought on to site. The key thing to remember is that MEWPs are safe by design.
Evidence that a MEWP is compliant with the EHSRs as required in the Machiner Directive is provided in the form of an EU Declaration of Conformity, which is provided by the manufacturer, with the MEWP at the point of first sale.
Last year 53 fatalities worldwide involving MEWPs were reported to IPAF’s accident database. The main cause of these fatalitities were: overturning (16), falling from height (13), entrapment (10), electrocution (7), impact with the machine (4) and impact with a falling object (2).
Last year, three of these fatal accidents were in the UK, with one each caused by overturning, falling from height and entrapment. While every accident is a tragedy, MEWPs have a good safety record worldwide, given that there are about 950,000 platforms in the global rental fleet. In the UK, Health & Safety Executive inspectors have regularly pointed to MEWPs as a safe way to work at height.
Safe equipment calls for adequately trained operators and proper management to keep MEWP operations safe. IPAF’s voluntary, industry-led operator training programmes has helped to keep the industry safe. There are now more than 1.5 million valid PAL cards (Powered Access Licences) worldwide. Each card is proof that the card holder has been trained to operatre powered access equipment safely and effectively.
Equally important is management training, IPAF approved training centres offer a MEWPs for Managers course aimed at enabling supervisors and managers to prepare for and safely co-ordinate various types of platforms on site. The syllabus includes topics such as: legislation and guidance; rental terms and conditions; machine types and use; structural parts and MEWP selection; operator training and familirisation; operator daily inspection; personal fall protection; safe operating methods and hazard awareness.
MEWPs are one of the safest and most efficient ways to perform temporary work at height, but the use of equipment must go hand in hand with appropriate training, familirisation, risk assessment, proper planning and management of the work – all to ensure that the employees, from site to office and boardroom, go back with peace of mind after a safe day’s work.
For more information on the IPAF course that APL Training run, and for course dates, please do not hesitate to contact our training team on 01942 262 993.