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Month: November 2016

Is your access platform winter ready?

The shortest day of the year is now less than a month away and though winter is a season of lower productivity for industries that work at height, powered access platforms can still operate safely in winter conditions.

Freezing conditions can impact on the performance and safe use of access equipment and the best way to prevent accidents or mechanical failure is to keep on top of maintenance and servicing throughout the year.

Powered access platforms are designed to cope with extreme work environments, indoors and outdoors and are the safest way to keep working and making money during the colder months.
In autumn it is essential to make the most of the light – with less working time because of dropping temperatures, shorter days and bad weather, the transition to winter means it is often necessary to work after sunset.

Working in cold conditions

Pre-start checks
Before the start of every job the following checks should be made:

  • Inspect component parts of the work platform, extending structures and stabilising equipment
  • Look for signs of dirt or damage on the machine
  • Ensure controls are operational at ground level and on platform workstations
  • Check all emergency systems and safety devices
  • Check brake functions, tyre pressures, hydraulic systems and lights
  • Examine fluid levels including engine oil, water and lubricant

Stable ground
Ground conditions are unpredictable in icy weather as they are slippery and, though they may feel hard when frozen, surfaces can quickly become soft and wet as they thaw, increasing the danger of overturning or subsidence if the situation is not monitored.

Ground conditions are an essential consideration of a risk assessment for any job at height and it is especially important in winter to make sure the ground is checked throughout the course of the job for any changes in consistency.

Lighting the workspace
Any periods of time working at height after dark must be factored into the risk assessment for the job. In almost all cases, it will be necessary to use flood or spotlights as the natural light begins to fade to adequately illuminate the workspace both at ground level and at height. It is important to see what you are doing while you work and to be able to see operating and safety controls of the access equipment at all times.

Storage
At night temperatures drop and icy conditions can affect the performance of the access platform the following day. Make sure if at all possible that the machine is stored in a secure lock up, undercover or invest a suitable cover to keep the access equipment protected overnight.

Powered access platforms are able to perform safely and effectively in winter months provided extra care is given to the maintenance of the machine and the risk assessment of the working environment. Working in winter can be a challenge but powered access platforms offer a safe, flexible and accessible way to function all year round at height.

Christmas comes to town with access platforms

This week, towns and cities across the UK will be powering up for Christmas by switching on lights and displays which are made possible by the safe and speedy working of powered access platforms.

Throughout November, councils, public and private companies and landowners use access equipment to set up the festive light displays that everyone loves at this time of year. Powered access platforms enable the electricians who plan and install the displays to work safely at height with electricity, lifting and installing thousands of feet of cable and hundreds of bulbs to light up streets, buildings and trees.

Setting up Christmas decorations on an industrial scale poses a number of health and safety risks including working with electricity, installation in tight spaces or areas with restricted access, and trying to get the job done in adverse winter weather conditions including wind, rain or snow.

Access platforms have a number of benefits and specialist features that can make the job faster and safer:

Accessibility – Spider lifts and compact access platforms can fit and operate in tight or confined spaces such as narrow streets or courtyards and can also operate indoors.
Mobility – Lifting equipment which is mounted on a van or truck bed and can move easily between jobs, providing a stable work platform for setting up fixed lights or decorating large trees.
Stability – Access platforms with a tracked chassis spread the weight of the machine over a wider surface area. This means they can operate safely on lightweight interior floors or tracks and pathways that are not used to heavy loads.
Safety – Access platforms can withstand adverse weather, sloping ground and varied ground conditions. Most models have a maximum wind capacity which can be found in the owner’s manual and gadgets such as an anemometer can measure safe wind speeds at height.
Flexibility – Overcoming obstacles may be an issue when setting up a christmas tree or light display. Boom lift access platforms have outreach and extension to overcome obstacles at ground and elevated level and move the working platform to hard to reach areas.

The festive season wouldn’t be the same without the Christmas trees and light displays that illuminate town centres and public buildings across the world, with the help of powered access platforms.They are suitable for public or private use; indoor or outdoor displays, and lifting heavy weights and awkward shapes such as light displays and decorations. They may have hundreds of other uses throughout the year but they definitely make Christmas brighter.

Benefits of tracked ‘Spider’ boom lifts

Flexible height and outreach are often important factors for working at heights and boom lift access platforms are an excellent solution for lifting to hard to reach places.

Boom lifts have a wider range of movement than some other types of access equipment and can get around various obstacles in the built and natural environments. They are specially designed to tackle jobs on or offsite that are high up and in hard to reach places.

Here are some of the main benefits of boom lifts:

Range of movement – Unlike some access equipment that is designed for just moving up and down from one position, boom lifts can move both vertically and horizontally. The articulated or telescopic boom configuration makes it easier and safer to lift to areas which might be otherwise out of reach.

Avoiding obstacles – Many buildings and spaces have obstructions which need to be avoided for safety such as branches, architecture or even geographical features that can get in the way of an access platform and cost time and money to get round.

Stable foundations – Strong stabilizer legs are used to support the machine on the ground and they can reach heights of up to 50+ metres. Spreader plates should be used with ‘Spider’ lifts to reduce the pressure point between the outriggers and the ground.

Indoor working – Boom lifts can be used indoors or out and most models come with an electric motor as standard to minimise indoor noise disruption. Some models have lightweight mechanisms so they can operate without damaging floors or delicate ground.

Accessible – Boom lifts up to 22m are generally road towable on  a suitable trailer. The tracked chassis means they are easy to position safely and accurately.

Boom lifts are the platform of choice for a range of industries working at height including construction companies, window fitters, engineers, tree surgeons, councils, public utilities and rescue organisations.

Before using a boom lift, or any type of powered access platforms, a full risk assessment should be carried out to identify potential hazards and work out how to avoid them. Monitor ground conditions carefully and consider obstacles at height and on the ground for a full safety assessment.

Boom lifts offer flexibility for a range of hard-to-reach jobs, both indoors and outdoors. They can overcome obstacles that might otherwise cost time and money to get around with other models of access platform and are easy to move around and set up. A combination of strength, stability and reach make them a popular choice of access equipment with a range of professional sectors and services who need to work quickly and efficiently at height, in a variety of working environments.

Selecting the right powered access platform

Powered access platforms offer a speedy and safe solution to get people, tools and equipment to heights safely and quickly, but with a wide variety of machinery types, it is important to choose the right one for a particular job.

Most access equipment is flexible, mobile and can access areas with restricted space, improve site safety, and save money. Different types of access equipment are specially designed for jobs in certain environments. Choosing the wrong type of machine can slow a job down, costing time and money, and increasing the health and safety risks to the workforce

What to consider

The most appropriate access equipment for a job will depend on a number of factors for example:
– Are there any steep slopes?
– What are the ground conditions like?
– Are there obstructions such as steelwork, overhangs or power lines?
– Look for fragile surfaces such as tiled floors or pathways
– What space is there to load at floor level?
– How high up is the job?

Benefits of access platforms

Mobility
Access platforms can lift people and equipment to  significant height in less time than it takes to climb a ladder or scaffold. They can be transported, set up and utilised quickly and easily depending on the demands of the job.  Larger platforms can be road towed for set up on site, or vehicle mounted platforms offer maximum portability. Some models can be moved safely while the platform is raised; a major benefit for completing multiple jobs in different locations on or off site.

For tighter spaces or building interiors, spider lift access platforms are lightweight with low ground pressure. They can be used internally or externally without damaging floors or pathways and will fit through standard sized doorways and gates.

Even jobs in extreme conditions are accessible with all-terrain vehicles that have four wheel drive and four wheel steering options to access hard to reach places, and levelling controls that stabilise on steep sloped ground.

Access
Lightweight and compact powered access platforms can access jobs which are hard to reach or dangerous. Boom lifts have a telescopic reach which can avoid obstacles such as architecture or overhanging branches. Spider lifts are designed for use in confined spaces, including jobs indoors, and can pass through a standard sized doorway.

Safety
Powered access platforms are a simple solution for lifting both people and essential equipment at height. Heavy tools or materials, specialist equipment or breakables can be raised safely and quickly. Modern models have the capacity to anchor additional safety equipment such as a lanyard or harness

Training in the use of access equipment is required by law but will benefit businesses in the long run as the equipment can be used quickly and efficiently by a small number of staff.

Powered access platforms, are mobile, safe and flexible but it is important to chose the right make and model for your specific needs so you can get the maximum benefits of safe and speedy lifting.
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