Rescue Platforms

26 February 2017

In an emergency, rescue platforms can help. Every second counts which is why powered access platforms are the number one choice of lifting equipment for many rescue situations at height.

The mobility and flexibility of different types of rescue platforms enable emergency services or rescue teams to work at speed and from a secure lifting platform when time is of the essence.

Rescue platforms are frequently deployed by the fire brigade who include vehicle mounted lifting equipment in their fleet to reach people and spaces quickly and safely. Because access equipment is multi use, many of the features of powered access platforms suit complicated or challenging rescues in a range of environments. For example:

Boom lifts move vertically and horizontally and are able to access hard to reach heights over tricky obstacles such as rooftops and trees
Spider lifts can be used for both internal and external rescue situations and can access and be used in narrow spaces and on fragile surfaces such as paths or floors.
All terrain access platforms move quickly and safely over rough terrain and stabilise on extreme surface conditions including ice and sand.
Road rail access platforms are interchangeable between both infrastructures and can be used for rescues on remote sections of track and from steep verges or overhead power lines

Rescue platforms

Occasionally the emergency situation might involve rescuing people from the work platform. These types of accidents are rare and powered access platforms have built-in safety controls so operatives can return the raised platform to ground level. However problems can be caused by a range of factors including, but not exclusively, mechanical failure, human error or adverse weather conditions.

Though these systems rarely fail, it is vital to have a plan for how people can be brought down safely. Rescue plans should comply with UK health and safety legislation such as the 2005 Work at Height Regulations.  It is important to do a risk assessment for the rescue, to keep a record of this assessment and note all details of the rescue as they may be important to refer to at a later date.

Here are a few steps to consider in an emergency:
– Activate all normal emergency lowering procedures if possible
– Contact the manager of the site or project to report any failure of back-up emergency systems
– Get the powered access platform checked by a qualified engineer to see if an onsite repair can be carried out

If it is not possible to repair the lowering mechanisms then a basket-to-basket rescue may be necessary. In exceptional circumstances, where a basket-to-basket rescue is not feasible, emergency evacuation systems such as a crane rescue could be used.

Rescue platforms enable emergency services and rescue teams to manage a rescue situation at height, quickly and safely. Rescue planning should be part of the risk assessment and many scenarios can be avoided by careful planning, a trained and competent workforce and a well performing machine, all of which are best practice for anyone working at height.

The Mighty Mini Crane

19 February 2017

It’s not just the huge tower cranes that get the big jobs done, mobile and adaptable compact cranes can also make a big impact on the building site. Those tricky, hard-to-get-to places inside a building are just where a mini crane shows its value. A Great Dane is no good for ratting – a Terrier is made for the task. So it is with mini Cranes – the mighty Terriers of the awkward place.

Heavy Loads In Tiny Spaces

Lifting heavy loads in confined spaces is always challenging. The use of an A-frame and chain hoists is labour intensive and the use of a fork lift truck entails certain risks. A compact mini crane with a flexible boom is perfect for the job. Hydraulically-powered telescopic legs with step less extendibility and a swivel function allow the operator to exactly position the legs where they provide the greatest advantage for the intended lifting position. Set up time is very quick and with white non-marking tracks and fume-less electric power, the effect on their surroundings is minimal. They are also very quiet in operation. This is especially important when installing elements in shopping centres and offices.

A New Breed Of Mini Crane

The new breed of mini cranes also have radio remote control. This expert combination of hydraulics, mechanics, electrical engineering and control technology allows use in places previously considered inaccessible. Operating from a safe distance allows precision and increased safety for everyone.

Mighty Mini Crane

Mighty Mini Crane  Benefits

  • Only needs a fraction of the space a tower crane needs
  • Easy and quick set up increases productivity and efficiency
  • Perfect for work in limited access areas
  • Suitable for tough lifting jobs that need delicate handling
  • Environmentally friendly to both surroundings and people
  • Remote control allows precision control from a safe working distance

Promax Access provide a range of compact cranes giving you powerful lifting capabilities – right where you need it.

Wet winter weather can cause unstable ground conditions and powered access platform stability can become an issue. All you need is a solid foundation to operate safely. Powered access platform stability is necessary to prevent the access platform from overtipping which can lead to entrapment and falls – two of the main causes of serious accidents when working at height. Powered access platform stability can be achieved using a range of tools such as built-in safety mechanisms, careful planning and additional ground protection measures.

Checking Ground Suitable For Powered Access Platform Stability

Ground conditions have a big impact on the stability of access platforms and a ground survey should be completed before every job. Poor conditions may mean further support is required such as spreader plates, timber mats or concrete pads.

On soft ground the machine can sink under its own weight the risk assessment should continually monitor the capacity of the ground to bear the lifting weight and any unseen hazards such as underground services such as sewers, drains, manholes, gas and water mains. Rain, ice and even sun can quickly change ground conditions and cause instability.

Sloping Ground Can Still Provide Access Platform Stability

Spider access platforms use outriggers (stabilizer legs) to balance and secure the machine on different levels of a hill, verge or slope and have warning lights on the control panel to indicate when it is not in a solid position.

Spreader plates will be required under the outrigger legs of a Spider boom lift as the weight of the machine causes high pressure at the point where the legs meet the ground, increasing the risk of sinking.

Weight Management To Provide Better Powered Access Platform Stability

Every make and model of powered access platform has a maximum weight capacity which includes the total weight of lifting people, equipment and tools. Overloading can be very dangerous especially on a slope as it could cause the machine to slide or overturn. The maximum weight for a specific machine can be found in the operator manual and should never be exceeded


Spreader Plates Use In Powered Access Platform Stability

Spreader plates reduce the heavy loads and pressure at the point of contact between a stabilizer leg and the ground, by spreading the load through a wider area.

Selecting the right size and type of spreader plate for specific locations and access equipment is important. Spreader plates should be big enough, stiff enough and strong enough to cope with the pressure and weight demands.

Powered access platforms are designed to operate on different surfaces but, in inclement conditions, this requires flexibility and regular monitoring of ground conditions. Choose the right type of platform for the job and take time to stabilize the machine in the working environment and the access equipment will do a safe job on most types of ground surface.

Statistics from the HSE confirm that in the tree work industry, accidents resulting in major injury occur more than in the construction industry. Over 4,000 people have had their life affected by tree work activities. It’s a dangerous industry. Most of the fatal and major injuries are associated with chainsaw operations, being hit by a falling tree or branches, or by falling.

Between 2000 and 2013, 60 people have been killed doing tree work.

MEWPS For Tree Work

Because of the high number of accidents in the arboriculture industry the HSE commissioned an evaluation of the use of Mobile Elevated Working Platforms (MEWPs) in such work. It’s a 74 page Report that can be downloaded from the Promax Downloads page here.

The research showed there are a number of advantages to be gained by using MEWP’s for tree work:

  • Improved safety for operator and groundsman
  • Reduced effort reducing need for rest thus improving productive time
  • Reduce time for individual jobs allowing more to be done in a day
  • Reduces time required where the work may cause obstruction or disturbance to others
  • Since there is potential for improving productivity there is an opportunity to reduce the costs of individual jobs and improve competitiveness.

The Work at Height Regulations 2005 do not say MEWPs have to be used for all tree work. However, the HSE recommend that the use of MEWPs should always be considered when planning tree work. They suggest they are particularly suited to:

  • Tree work in urban areas
  • Work on diseased or dying trees where tree climbing is difficult or arduous because of tree species or tree form
  • Where there is a reasonable number of trees to be worked on.

The HSE Leaflet AFAF403 leaflet describes the safe working practices to be followed when using MEWPs for tree work. Using AFAF403 along with the manufacturer’s Handbook will form part of the risk assessment that identifies the controls needed to be in place for tree work.

Promax Access provides full training to meet these requirements including

  • Risk assessment before starting work
  • Identify the appropriate equipment
  • The number of operatives required
  • The personal protective equipment (PPE) required
  • Full operator and groundsman training in the use of MEWPs
  • Safety harness and securing the operator
  • Safe working near to highways

Since only trained and authorised people may operate the platform and safety at height is the paramount concern, Promax Access training courses maintain the highest standards.

For more information regarding the Training programmes please contact Promax Access.