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
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
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.
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.