Last weekend almost 200,000 music lovers travelled to the Glastonbury festival and powered access platforms are playing an increasing role in the success of the summer live music season.

Festivals involve multiple stages set out over a large site area, in a variety of locations from public parks and gardens to rural farmland. Access platforms have a number of advantages for working at height at live music events because they are flexible, mobile and able to operate safely on a wide range of surfaces and ground conditions.

Some of the main jobs they are used for are:
– 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 festival and site clearance afterwards

With such a vast number of acts on at festivals, some of 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.

What to look out for

People – There are lots of them around at festivals and many will be in an excitable state or even inebriated. Make sure you carry out a full risk assessment to account for this and create a safe working area so neither operatives or members of the public are at risk.
Weather – Outdoors in the British summer is unpredictable at the best of times. Wind, rain and mud are all potential problems at festivals. 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.
Ground conditions – These are affected by both the weather and the location. Muddy farm land and pathways in a historic garden are very different surfaces but both pose risks for instability. Choose your access equipment to meet your requirements. For example:

– All-terrain access platforms have four wheel drive and are designed to stabilise on varied surfaces and gradients so are ideal for more remote areas of festivals with poor infrastructure
– Tracked access platforms spread the weight of the machine and reduce the pressure at ground level which could make them too heavy for fragile or soft surfaces

Festivals are a unique working environment and the combination of large crowds, unpredictable weather and unusual locations means work needs to be completed quickly and safely with minimal impact on everything going on around the site. Powered access platforms can work safely on most ground surfaces and are mobile so they can easily move around the site. Whether you are going to a festival or enjoying the music at home, access platforms have become as essential to event organisers as wellies are to the crowds.

UK legislation ensures that all powered access platform use is safe and efficient and it is essential for businesses that work at height to be up to date on the law for access platforms.

The legal know how for access platform use is part of the mandatory training for both operatives, managers and supervisors and was introduced to avoid accidents and make sure that the machines are in top working order.

The law for access platforms applies to both new and used access platforms. keeping the access equipment in prime working condition extends its performance and lifespan and increases value for money.

The legal essentials

There are two pieces of current legislation that govern the maintenance of powered access platforms:
Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER)
Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER)

The law for access platforms states that they must be tested and thoroughly examined at regular intervals by a qualified person. This means every six months for any machine that lifts people and 12 months for machines lifting just equipment.

Here is a brief outline of the key pieces of law for access platforms:

Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER)
LOLER has the following requirements for servicing access equipment:
– Equipment used for lifting people should be safe to use and all necessary precautions must be taken to eliminate or reduce any risk
– Access equipment should be thoroughly examined before it is used for the first time
– Examinations should be carried out  in use every six months for access platforms lifting people and 12 months for all other equipment
– Inspections and servicing should be carried out by a qualified person who submits a full report to the owner/employer

Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER)
The servicing requirements of PUWER for work equipment are:
– It should be suitable for use
– It is used and maintained in a safe condition for use so that people’s health and safety is not at risk
– Inspected regularly to ensure that it is safe for use
– A competent person should carry our inspections and a record kept until the next inspection
Mobile access platforms used for carrying people should be fit for purpose with measures taken to reduce the risks to anyone using it or in the vicinity

Accredited training is also required for anyone using powered access platforms both for commercial and private use and will give a more detailed outline of LOLER and PUWER. The key to machine safety is a regular schedule of maintenance which is fully documented and maximises the functionality and safety of the equipment. This will also ensure a high resale value of the access platform.

It makes sense that any machine used to work at height is in prime working condition and the people using it are not put at risk. There are large penalties for not complying with the law for access platforms, not least if anyone gets seriously hurt or injured as a result of mechanical failure. Getting your powered access platforms inspected and serviced regularly is not only a legal requirement but a way to guarantee it is operating at peak performance, getting jobs at height completed faster and more safely and to avoid any unnecessary accidents.