The Duke of Wellington was one of Britain’s finest generals. His success in India, Spain and Europe was down to one thing: reconnoitring the ground. This was so important to him he carried out much of it himself. Seeing the ground with his own eyes allowed him to plan for troop and artillery placement, to check on the ground conditions, and allow quick access to areas when needed.
In effect, he did his own ‘risk assessment’ before each battle. He would have made the perfect MEWP team manager.
The route to site
There are many factors to take into account when planning to use powered access platforms. To ensure their safe and effective use, good decisions need to be based on understanding where and how they are to be used. The best way to identify the hazards is to travel beforehand – to reconnoitre – the route the MEWP will take. From where the MEWP is stored to the site entrance needs to be seen and the most suitable method of transport chosen. If on a trailer, a safe area needs to be designated for unloading. Accidents can and do, happen at this stage.
Accessing the 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 crossover 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.
If it has recently rained then reconnoitring the ground is essential to assess the risk. Soft surfaces can make manoeuvrability difficult, particularly when the ground has become 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.
- The Health and Safety Executive’s Five Steps to risk assessment
Viewing beforehand the route the MEWP will be taking from the start of its journey to the work placement will make the HSE “5 Steps” easier to assess.
Seeing with your own eyes will help:
- Step 1: Identify the hazards.
- Step 2: Decide who might be harmed and how.
- Step 3: Evaluate the risks and decide on precautions.
- Step 4: Record your findings and implement them.
- Step 5: Review your risk assessment and update if necessary.
Take a tip from the Duke of Wellington – do your own reconnoitre and assess the risks when deploying your MEWPs.