Powered access platforms are a regular feature on UK construction sites and managing site safety on a large, multi-skilled site is a major undertaking.
Falls are the still the main cause of accidental death in the construction industry and account for 50% of all fatalities. There is no distinction between low and high falls so mitigating against accidents is vital both for individuals and businesses.
If possible, working at height should be avoided but this is rarely practical on a construction site. Powered access platforms offer a safe and stable working base for a number of low to mid-height tasks, providing safe access to elevated jobs and the ability to move easily from one place to another.
Whether you are a site owner or a subcontractor, the same safety rules apply and here are some of the main things to think about when working with access equipment:
Choose your machine
Choosing the right type of access equipment will make a difference to the safety of the job. Different models have specialist features that can suit every stage from early building to the final finish. Some models are suitable for indoor or outdoor use and can fit through a standard size doorway. They are flexible, mobile and able to stabilise on a range of ground surfaces and gradients. Machines should be fully serviced every six months and checked before each job to make sure they are fit for purpose.
Construction sites are very busy with multiple people carrying out different jobs. Identifying potential hazards so they can be mitigated against is an important task for the site manager and for individuals employed on the site. Working with access platforms requires a thorough risk assessment at both ground level and at height to identify issues such as:
– Overhead power lines and buried cables
– Soft or fragile ground
– Trip hazards on the work platform
– Collision with another vehicle
– Falling materials and collapses
– Changeable weather conditions
Access and Mobility
Moving between jobs is a major advantage of access platforms but it can also increase risk to people working on site. Access onto the site and movement around it should be carefully planned to avoid accidents by keeping vehicles and pedestrians aparat. Ground conditions should be checked regularly at access points and and job locations as soft or uneven ground can increase the risk of the vehicle overturning and endangering lives.
Access platforms support the use of personal fall protection such as a work-restraint lanyard or full body harness. Many models of access platform are fitted with guardrails or toe boards and safety controls can be found at height and ground level to protect the workforce in emergency situations.
It is important to prevent accidents even after working hours on site. While you may not be responsible for trespassers, you can help prevent dangerous incidents:
– Clear the platform of tools and equipment
– Switch off the power and remove the keys from the machine
– Secure the equipment to prevent vandalism and theft
Powered access platforms are a safe and efficient way of completing jobs at height which is why they continue to be a regular feature on UK construction sites. Safety relies on both the site management and individuals using the access equipment, working together to plan, manage and be aware of all the other activity on site as well as taking responsibility for protecting the people around them.