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Month: November 2017

Safety at height

MEWPs. Safety at Height

Every Day Before You Start

Think Safety At Height!

Thankfully accidents involving MEWPs have been declining over the last ten years. HSE legislation and IPAF awareness programmes have played an important role but on the front line it is the users of access power equipment who are pivotal in ensuring safety at height and reducing accidents.

For the safe performance of your powered access platform, is vital to ensure the equipment is in the optimum condition before every use. Maintaining and servicing access equipment will prolong its life and is required to meet health and safety regulations.

A pre-start inspection should be carried out every day and all staff should be briefed in what they entail. These checks will confirm that the machinery is safe to operate and identify any potential hazards it may pose before the work at height is carried out.

What to check

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.

Controls
– Test all lift controls before any people or equipment are raised from the ground. This should include cut out switches and emergency stop mechanisms.

Hydraulic fluid and petrol
– The oil level in the tank should be full when the platform is on a level surface and there should be enough fuel in the tank to complete the job.

Maintenance
– Check the vehicle for any signs of damage or age which might cause it to malfunction. This should include identifying damaged or loose hoses or fittings, rust, corrosion, holes and electrical faults.

Stability
– For a mobile access platform, the brakes of the vehicle should be fully functional. The base of a powered access platform needs to be locked into position before the platform is extended or elevated. Check all stabiliser legs and extendable parts are operational before use.

The Vital Safety At Height Risk Assessment

Before you set up a full risk assessment should be carried out at the site of any job to identify any potential hazards such as overhead power lines or underground services, and to check the ground conditions.

As a minimum you should…

Make sure the ground is strong enough to take the weight of the equipment before you start to lift anyone or anything.
Clearly mark off your work area to ensure you have a safe area to complete the job.
Only allow trained operatives to control the access equipment.
Make sure the powered access platform is fully stabilized before operation.
Do not exceed the maximum load capacity of the access platform.

Summary
Carrying out the relevant checks before you start will ensure safety at height. It is worth checking the equipment thoroughly yourself as part of the overall risk assessment of your job. Not only will this ensure that your equipment is well maintained and fit for purpose for longer but it will also prevent avoidable accidents.

mewp risk assessment

MEWP Risk Assessment

MEWP Risk Assessment – Don’t start work without it!

Whether you are onsite or offsite, working at height requires a suitable MEWP Risk Assessment to avoid potential dangers.

mewp risk assessment danger sign

In the construction industry, work at height is the main cause of fatal and serious injury in the construction industry. Worryingly, most accidents occur on smaller projects. Using powered access platforms does make carrying out jobs at height safer and faster but there are still potential risks and it is important to make sure all staff are aware of any precautions to take.

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) statistics show more than 60% of deaths resulting from work at height involve falls from ladders, scaffolds, working platforms and roof edges; or falling through fragile roofs. Although this has been a downward trend for the past 10 years, the financial cost has been significant along with the human cost to families and friends.

MEWP Risk Assessment – Accident prevention

To continue the downward trend of work at height accidents, the law requires employers and self-employed contractors to carry out an adequate MEWP risk assessment of the potential risks on each job so they can do everything ‘reasonably practicable’ to protect people from harm.

Carrying out a MEWP Risk Assessment does not need to be overly complicated but it does need to be an important part of planning and completing a job. Both the supervisors and the staff should be aware of the potential dangers so they can actively avoid them.

The HSE website provides full and detailed advice on planning and completing a risk assessment for a wide range of jobs but here are the five main points to consider:

The five Main Points

Identify the Hazards – Walk round the site and make observations. Some of these may be obvious but 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 – Check the maintenance of the powered access platform and other equipment and make sure that workers know how to operate it safely and effectively. Take extra steps to prevent any person falling a distance that could cause personal injury and use equipment to minimise the distance and consequences of a fall if necessary, such as safety nets.

Review your assessment and update if necessary – circumstances change all the time so your assessment of the risks will too.

Summary

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. Visit the HSE website for more information.

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