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Month: May 2016

Powered access platforms boost outdoor events

Across the UK, during spring and summer fetes, festivals and exhibitions are an important part of the annual calendar and powered access platforms have made staging  outdoor events much easier.
Whether it’s a small scale street party, a carnival through busy town centre streets or a music festival set out over a large site, access platforms are flexible, mobile and able to operate safely on a wide range of surfaces and ground conditions.

Selecting equipment

One of the best features of access platforms is how flexible they are and there is a model or type for most locations; urban and rural. Mobile access platforms, for example, are fixed to a van or truck base to move between multiple sites in the same location and elevate quickly.

For soft or fragile ground conditions, a scissor lift or other type of tracked access platform will spread the weight of the machine and reduce the pressure at ground level and scissor lifts are also ideal for working in confined spaces.

If elevation and extension are required, access equipment with a telescopic boom is ideal the avoid obstacles and access hard to reach spaces.

Jobs on site
– Putting up bunting, street lighting and decorations
– Stage construction including roofing, lifting steelwork and maintenance
– Setting up and taking down lighting rigs, lasers and pyrotechnics
– Working on sound equipment
– Fixing and operating film and television cameras for broadcast
– Maintenance during the event and site clearance afterwards

Safety tips

The same safety rules apply to access platform users regardless of whether its a private or public event. By law, all operatives should be fully trained to use powered access platforms and familiarised with the specific machine they are using.

A full and detailed risk assessment should also be carried out to identify any hazards in the work area and on site in general so steps can be taken to avoid them. At the end of the day, these events are for everyone to have a good time and should not be marred by risk taking or serious accidents.

Often at outdoor events, the work needs to be carried out while the event is going on and there are thousands of people around. When used properly, access equipment is one of the safest ways to work up in the air, at speed. Make sure you carry out a full risk assessment which includes looking out for pedestrians and create a safe working area so neither operatives or members of the public are at risk.

Outdoors in the British summer is unpredictable at the best of times. Wind, rain and mud are all potential problems. Conditions can change quickly so check the forecast at regular intervals so you can select the correct equipment for the job and avoid accidents. Personal fall protection is also highly recommended.

The country’s outdoor festivals are spectacular and world famous, attracting crowds of thousands and powered access platforms play a key role in making them a success. For flexibility, stability and safety they are the best choice for working at height for anyone planning an outstanding summer event.

Safety warning for scissor lifts exhibitors

Spring and summer is the season for industry exhibitions which are a great way to promote working with powered access platforms, but companies are being warned about displays which might be dangerous.

It is common practice for organisers and exhibitors to display scissor lift powered access platforms and attach a banner to them However, the International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) is urging anyone attending a country fair or exhibition not to do this as unpredictable weather conditions could create a “sail board” effect which could destabilise the lift and cause it to fall over.

Many scissor lifts are specifically designed for indoor use only with zero wind. Even outdoor machines may be at risk of being blown over when elevated in high or gusting winds. They are not supposed to hold banners or advertisement boards as this increases the surface area, risking the safety of anyone working on the machine or on the ground. Exhibitors are also advised not to use the machine for entertainment or joy rides as they should only be operated by trained personnel.

Scissor lifts are a safe way to perform temporary work at height when used properly by trained operatives and are ideal for a range of specialist working conditions including:

Confined spaces – Movement and operation of access equipment can be restricted in some spaces such as alleyways, narrow streets, courtyards, interiors or dense woodland. Scissor lifts are able to stabilise in limited spaces and the compact design can gain access through a standard-size doorway.

Quiet working – As scissor lifts are designed to work in confined spaces, they have the option of electric power or duel fuel motors to reduce the impact of noise.

Indoor working – Indoor working may have similar confinement of movement and access issues. There may also be limits on noise and weight as floors, cellars and basements may be incapable of bearing the weight of access equipment. Scissor lifts are lightweight and most models have the option of white tracks, to prevent floor marking, and electric power to reduce noise.

IPAF has more support and advice for exhibitors  and technical advice for powered access platform users, on it’s website at www.ipaf.org.

Top tips for working mobile access platforms

The ability to move quickly between jobs is a major bonus of working with powered access platforms and following a few basic rules is the key to site safety.

Different types of access platforms have different set up times and some are more suitable for moving between jobs than others. Choosing the right machine for the specifics of a job and location is important and will be influenced by a range of factors including work space, obstructions at height and ground level and other people or jobs that may be present nearby.

In general, mobile access platforms take less time to set up between jobs so they are ideal for multiple jobs such as street lighting, cleaning, roofing or building maintenance. They are usually vehicle-mounted and fixed to a truck or a van base or can be transported on a road towable trailer.

Here are the main safety considerations for working with mobile access platforms:

On the road
Drivers must hold a valid UK driving licence for the appropriate size of vehicle. Many vehicle mounted mobile access platforms can be driven on a standard licence but, for larger machines on a truck base, an HGV certification may be necessary.

Towing powered access platforms is also regulated by UK law and it is the driver’s responsibility to ensure compliance. This means checking the trailer and load does not exceed 80-85% of the weight of the vehicle if the trailer has separate brakes or, if not, that the the towing vehicle is twice the weight of the trailer and its load.

Access to site
When planning the job, factor in separate or designated areas of movement for workers on the ground and the access equipment. This should include:
– Separate entrances and exits
– Pedestrian walkways through the work area
– Crossing points which are clearly signed and lit where there is a cross over between access equipment and pedestrians
– Room to reverse or make a three point turn
– Visibility is paramount when moving machines around and vehicles should have large, clean windscreens and external mirrors to provide an all-round field of vision

Identify risks
Careful planning means it will be clear when the access equipment needs to move between jobs in the work location, and additional safety measures can be applied.
It is advisable to limit the number of vehicles in a work location at any one time so the access equipment has sufficient space to move.

Obstructions can be present at ground and elevated level such as people, buildings and other traffic. It is important to keep a safe working distance from all obstructions when moving access platforms around particularly if space and access are limited.

Ground Surfaces
Soft surfaces can make manoeuvrability difficult, particularly when the ground is muddy and churned up or if you are working on different surface types such as sand, ice or fragile indoor floors. Check the condition of surfaces in all of the work areas and in between and factor in the machine weight as, in some cases, a tracked access platform might be required.

Before using any access equipment, operatives must be fully trained in their use and carry an IPAF card or other recognised certification. Access platforms should be regularly serviced to stay in full safe, working order. If these simple steps are followed, mobile access platforms can boost speed, safety and productivity for a variety of businesses.

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