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Month: April 2016

Access Platform inspection, Maintenance And Thorough Examinations Consultation

The International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) calling for comments from powered access platform users on managing access platform inspection, maintenance and thorough examinations of their equipment.

The Strategic Forum Plant Safety Group  has produced some draft guidance entitled Managing the safe condition of Mobile Elevating Work Platforms – A practical approach to Inspection, Maintenance and Thorough Examination of Mobile Elevating Work Platforms (MEWPs).

The draft document has been written for application in the UK, within the UK legislative jurisdiction and can be accessed by IPAF members through the website www.ipaf.org. IPAF members are encouraged to consider the draft guidance and to give constructive comments using the relevant comment form by 27 May 2016.

Access platform inspection legal requirements

An access platform inspection is required by UK law and is also important to prevent serious accidents, extend the lifespan of a machine and ensure a legal and protected resale value.

The main types of access platform inspection are:
– Pre-use access platform inspection checks
– Six-monthly or annual access platform inspection /examination by a competent person
– Major access platform inspections within ten years of service

A record of these checks should be kept throughout the machine’s lifespan and used to evidence safe working or passed on to the new owner when it is sold.

Pre-use access platform inspection

A pre-start inspection should be carried out every day and all operatives should be trained to carry them out and aware of any findings. The checks will confirm that the access platform is safe to use and identify any potential issues before working at height.

There are a number of key functions and features on access platforms which should be in full working order before the equipment is used. Even if the access equipment is rented from a reputable firm, the hirer is responsible for the health and safety of the people using it, so it is important to carry out your own checks as well as those done by the supplier.

Six month checks

Powered access platforms are only safe and efficient if they are in premium working condition and regular inspections and maintenance are required by law for lifting equipment. All equipment used to lift persons must undergo a thorough examination by a competent person at least once every six months. Don’t be afraid to ask for the credentials of whoever carries out the inspection and keep a record of the service history.

Major inspections

Powered access platforms should undergo a major inspection within 10 years of being originally put into service and then every 5 years after that. Machines that have had a sustained high use or worked in a corrosive environment may need to be inspected sooner. The inspection should only be performed by a competent person who is up to speed on developments relevant to the inspection and maintenance of powered access platforms such as legislation, standards and best practice and machine technology and design.

To take part in the consultation got to www.ipaf.org

Managing risk for jobs at height

Powered access platforms have made working at height much safer but it can still be a risky business and a large number of serious or fatal workplace accidents are avoidable if the hazards are effectively managed.

Managing risk means identifying the potential dangers for each job and taking steps to avoid them. It may not be possible to remove a hazard completely, such as an overhead power line, but understanding and documenting how they might affect a particular job, and making the workforce aware, will create a safer working environment.

The flexibility of powered access platforms to operate effectively in a range of indoor and outdoor locations means that risk assessments have to take a range of external factors into account. They also have legal implications if something goes wrong which is why they should be carried out by an experienced and responsible person.

Where to start

By law, employers and self-employed contractors must carry out an adequate assessment of the potential risks on each job so they can do everything ‘reasonably practicable’ to protect people from harm. The process does not need to be overly complicated but it is an essential part of planning and completing a job.
The risks will depend on the job location but here are some of the more common issues consider:

Ground Conditions – The access platform should operate on firm, stable ground which has been checked for strength and unseen hazards, such as underground services or cellars.

Confined spaces – Avoid trapping incidents by identifying obstacles and ensuring the safety controls are kept clear.

Weight – Each machine has a maximum weight capacity which includes people and equipment being lifted. Exceeding this limit can lead to overturning.

Weather – Changeable conditions can affect the platform and the ground conditions including heavy rain and ice and high winds.

Fall protection – A harness and lanyard may be required if there is an additional risk of falls such as during adverse weather or working on fragile surfaces.

Obstructions – Overhead power cables, branches or masonry can all pose a risk so safe distances should be assessed at height and ground level.

Falling objects – Workers on the ground may also be at risk from falling tools or objects in the work are. This can be avoided by keeping the platform tidy.

Planning a risk assessment

Identify the Hazards – Walk the site and make observations. It is worth getting a second opinion in case there is something you haven’t noticed.
Decide who might be harmed and how – It may be a job onsite or there may be safety concerns for the general public. Make sure staff are adequately trained to complete the work and briefed on the requirements of the job.
Evaluate the risks and decide on precautions – Avoid working at height where it is reasonably practicable to do so, for example can you get equipment or materials prepped at ground level?
Record your findings and implement them – Keep a record of the assessment and review the risks throughout the job as circumstances change all the time.

Powered access platforms make working at height safer and quicker but they do not remove all the potential risks such as dangerous structures, bad weather or accidents. A risk assessment will ensure that potential problems are managed and can be prevented, so each job is completed without an incident or injury.

The essentials of powered access platform training

Training is a legal requirement for any individuals using powered access platforms, and it is also essential to running an efficient and cost effective business for industries that work at height.

Employers and individual users – both self employed or private use – are ultimately responsible for making sure that any staff or subcontractors have the required training to safely operate any make or model of access equipment.

Accidents have a high cost in terms of people and corporate reputation. Not only do they lead to compensation payments and significant penalty charges, they can also put businesses at risk from time delays, higher insurance premiums and legal fees.

Training in the use of powered access platforms is the key to a successful and efficient business. There are a wide range of training courses available for different levels of user including operators, demonstrators, instructors and managers.

The Law

Under UK Law all access platform operatives must be fully trained before attempting to operate any machine. Accredited courses run all over the country using a combination of practical and classroom based sessions to bring people up to speed on operating equipment safely; Inspecting access platforms for defects and wear and tear; Recognising and avoiding potential hazards in the workspace; and familiarisation with the specific make and model to be used.

Training includes:
– Industry regulations and standards
– Choosing the right platform for the job
– Carrying out workplace inspections
– Operation of the powered access platform including demonstrated proficiency in all functions of the equipment
– How to recognise and avoid common hazards
– Operator warnings and instructions
– The purpose and use of manuals
– Carrying out a pre-start inspection
– Factors affecting stability
– Personal protective equipment
– General equipment components
– Safe use of equipment
– Understanding issues associated with larger machines: e.g. outriggers/stabilizers, extendable axles, envelope management systems, load-moment devices, dual capacity

Courses can be tailored to the individual requirements of your business and can many accredited training centres offer courses to be held at their premises, or on a convenient site with suitable facilities.

Powered access platforms make working at height safer, quicker and more efficient and training is not only required by law but it has notable business benefits in the short and long term. Anyone working with the equipment needs to know how to inspect it, to operate it safely, and to recognise and avoid any potential hazards. This will prevent accidents, improve the working environment and help to establish a respected business reputation.

Access platforms continue to perform safely

Over the last few years, powered access platforms have dramatically reduced the number of fatal accidents involving elevated workers and the latest data shows that the trend for safer working continues.

The International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) has released the 2015 accident data which confirms that powered access platforms are still one of the safest ways to perform temporary work at height.

The latest figures show that the number of reported fatalities in 2015 was 68, giving a fatal injury rate of 0.035. Of the 68 reported MEWP fatalities for 2015, the main causes were overturning, falls from height, electrocution and entrapment.

There was a drop in numbers last year (2014) to 64 fatalities but this year’s figure matches the 68 reported fatalities in 2013. The breakdown from 2013-2015 shows that the main causes of fatalities were: fall from height (31%), overturn (27%), electrocution (15%) and entrapment (15%).

According to the IPAF calculations of the access platform fatal injury rate, while the use of access equipment has increased, the fatal injury rate has fallen. The current statistics are based on rental fleets but similar data is being gathered for user owned equipment.

The fatal injury rate is calculated based on the following factors:
– Estimated rental fleet size from IPAF market reports
– Estimated average utilisation rates per country and worldwide -the rate is the share of the fleet out on rent at any time over a year
– Average days worked per year (5 days a week for 50 weeks a year)
– The number of fatalities involving MEWPs in a year, based on the IPAF accident reporting project

Accident reporting
The IPAF accident reporting project launched in 2012 to improve the gathering an analysis of accident data relating to powered access platforms. Since then, businesses that work at height have been encouraged to voluntarily submit accident information in order to process an accurate picture of health and safety issues.

The information is already being used for a number of life saving purposes including

– Improving legislation and safety guidance

–  Supporting training for workers and operatives

– Improving the design and manufacture of access platform safety features

How to get involved
The IPAF database is still the only central point for the recording of accident data. It relies on voluntary contributions from industries that work at height using access equipment. Manufacturers, operatives, rental companies, contractors and individuals can report fatal or serious accidents and the gathered data is confidential and only used for safety improvement.

Go to www.ipaf.org to find put more about accident reporting and how your business can help to save lives and benefit from accurate and informative health and safety data.

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