Access Platform News

Meet the Promax Access team and find out about how our powered access platforms can improve your business at Vertikal Days 2016.

Now in its tenth year, Vertikal days is a leading event in the European calendar,  featuring cranes, access platforms and telehandlers. It is aimed at fleet owners, rental companies, lifting equipment users and lifting professionals and offers a full view of the industry’s latest products and innovations.

The event will be held at Haydock Park, Newton-Le-Willows,  Merseyside on Wednesday 15th and Thursday 16th June and Promax Access will be in attendance on stand 209.

As well as offering expert advice and meeting with new and existing customers, Promax Access will be exhibiting some exciting NEW products at the show from the range of unique compact tracked access platforms. These include:

The Spider 13.80 – This is a super compact lithium-hybrid machine providing a 13.4 metre working height, a maximum outreach of 8 metres, and a set up width of only 2.9 metres. Features include user friendly remote tracking and an extending chassis for additional safety.

The Spider 27.14 Hybrid – Launching for the first time in the UK, this access platform has great user-friendly features including a 27 metre working height, a 14 metre maximum outreach and a 230kg maximum cage capacity.

The dual-power Spider 18.90 PRO – This machine has radio control, two-speed tracking, auto set up, Kubota engine, cage rotation and the unique track widening system which provides greater ground clearance. A lithium battery version of the Spider 18.90 PRO-E will also be on display.

Anyone wanting to find out more about these new products and the full range of access equipment at Promax Access can come and talk to a member of the team on either of the event days.

Over the two days of the event, Vertikal Days visitors can also browse the exhibits and attend a wide range of  free meetings, seminars & workshops to gain knowledge about all aspects of elevated working.

Vertikal days 2016 takes place on Wednesday 15th and Thursday 16th June 2016 at Haydock Park, Newton-Le-Willows, Merseyside. To find out how to register go to www.vertikaldays.net

Powered access platforms are widely used for commercial and business purposes but they are also suitable for jobs on private property and land.

Buying a powered access platform is a big financial commitment so most private users are people who have a regular need for working at height and suitable capacity to store a large machine such as landowners and farmers.

Even if access equipment is being used privately, anyone operating the machine must comply with UK law which includes being adequately trained and carrying out a full and detailed risk assessment. Falls from height can be fatal so operatives must be confident in safe operation and know what to do in case of an emergency.

Risk Assessment tips
Identifying hazards and potential risks in the workspace and taking steps to avoid them are are essential. The risk assessment should include:
– Narrow or limited access
– Obstructions and obstacles at height and ground level
– Unstable or fragile ground
– Varied ground conditions such as paths, lawns or driveways
– Hard to reach or confined spaces

Never work alone on private land; always make sure there is someone who can respond if things go wrong.Choose the right machine to perform the necessary task safely and effectively.  Access equipment must be serviced every six months and checked before starting any job to ensure all functions are safe and operational.

Because powered access platforms are mobile and flexible they are suitable for a range of jobs on private property:

Building Maintenance – Guttering, painting , pointing and brickwork are all jobs which require a stable working platform for elevated safety.
Window cleaning  – Windows on buildings and constructions that can’t be reached by conventional climbing equipment such as ladders can be accessed quickly and safely by powered access platforms.
Roofing – Working on roofs can often be dangerous as they are often fragile and hard to reach when replacing panels and tiles. Powered access platforms can lift people, tools and equipment safely and speedily and are ideal for short duration roof work including inspections, maintenance and repairs.
Tree surgery and landscaping – Powered access platforms save time and energy wasted on climbing and hoisting up tools. They are used for clearing falling branches, trimming and maintaining trees in walking areas, planting new trees, and removing dead ones.

Powered access platforms can work flexibly on big or small jobs and are a safer way to complete short duration work at height. Regardless of whether the job is commercial or private the same attention to detail, planning and focus on safety will ensure it is completed with optimum results.

Across the UK, during spring and summer fetes, festivals and exhibitions are an important part of the annual calendar and powered access platforms have made staging  outdoor events much easier.
Whether it’s a small scale street party, a carnival through busy town centre streets or a music festival set out over a large site, access platforms are flexible, mobile and able to operate safely on a wide range of surfaces and ground conditions.

Selecting equipment

One of the best features of access platforms is how flexible they are and there is a model or type for most locations; urban and rural. Mobile access platforms, for example, are fixed to a van or truck base to move between multiple sites in the same location and elevate quickly.

For soft or fragile ground conditions, a scissor lift or other type of tracked access platform will spread the weight of the machine and reduce the pressure at ground level and scissor lifts are also ideal for working in confined spaces.

If elevation and extension are required, access equipment with a telescopic boom is ideal the avoid obstacles and access hard to reach spaces.

Jobs on site
– Putting up bunting, street lighting and decorations
– 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 event and site clearance afterwards

Safety tips

The same safety rules apply to access platform users regardless of whether its a private or public event. By law, all operatives should be fully trained to use powered access platforms and familiarised with the specific machine they are using.

A full and detailed risk assessment should also be carried out to identify any hazards in the work area and on site in general so steps can be taken to avoid them. At the end of the day, these events are for everyone to have a good time and should not be marred by risk taking or serious accidents.

Often at outdoor events, 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. Make sure you carry out a full risk assessment which includes looking out for pedestrians and create a safe working area so neither operatives or members of the public are at risk.

Outdoors in the British summer is unpredictable at the best of times. Wind, rain and mud are all potential problems. 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.

The country’s outdoor festivals are spectacular and world famous, attracting crowds of thousands and powered access platforms play a key role in making them a success. For flexibility, stability and safety they are the best choice for working at height for anyone planning an outstanding summer event.

Spring and summer is the season for industry exhibitions which are a great way to promote working with powered access platforms, but companies are being warned about displays which might be dangerous.

It is common practice for organisers and exhibitors to display scissor lift powered access platforms and attach a banner to them However, the International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) is urging anyone attending a country fair or exhibition not to do this as unpredictable weather conditions could create a “sail board” effect which could destabilise the lift and cause it to fall over.

Many scissor lifts are specifically designed for indoor use only with zero wind. Even outdoor machines may be at risk of being blown over when elevated in high or gusting winds. They are not supposed to hold banners or advertisement boards as this increases the surface area, risking the safety of anyone working on the machine or on the ground. Exhibitors are also advised not to use the machine for entertainment or joy rides as they should only be operated by trained personnel.

Scissor lifts are a safe way to perform temporary work at height when used properly by trained operatives and are ideal for a range of specialist working conditions including:

Confined spaces – Movement and operation of access equipment can be restricted in some spaces such as alleyways, narrow streets, courtyards, interiors or dense woodland. Scissor lifts are able to stabilise in limited spaces and the compact design can gain access through a standard-size doorway.

Quiet working – As scissor lifts are designed to work in confined spaces, they have the option of electric power or duel fuel motors to reduce the impact of noise.

Indoor working – Indoor working may have similar confinement of movement and access issues. There may also be limits on noise and weight as floors, cellars and basements may be incapable of bearing the weight of access equipment. Scissor lifts are lightweight and most models have the option of white tracks, to prevent floor marking, and electric power to reduce noise.

IPAF has more support and advice for exhibitors  and technical advice for powered access platform users, on it’s website at www.ipaf.org.

The ability to move quickly between jobs is a major bonus of working with powered access platforms and following a few basic rules is the key to site safety.

Different types of access platforms have different set up times and some are more suitable for moving between jobs than others. Choosing the right machine for the specifics of a job and location is important and will be influenced by a range of factors including work space, obstructions at height and ground level and other people or jobs that may be present nearby.

In general, mobile access platforms take less time to set up between jobs so they are ideal for multiple jobs such as street lighting, cleaning, roofing or building maintenance. They are usually vehicle-mounted and fixed to a truck or a van base or can be transported on a road towable trailer.

Here are the main safety considerations for working with mobile access platforms:

On the road
Drivers must hold a valid UK driving licence for the appropriate size of vehicle. Many vehicle mounted mobile access platforms can be driven on a standard licence but, for larger machines on a truck base, an HGV certification may be necessary.

Towing powered access platforms is also regulated by UK law and it is the driver’s responsibility to ensure compliance. This means checking the trailer and load does not exceed 80-85% of the weight of the vehicle if the trailer has separate brakes or, if not, that the the towing vehicle is twice the weight of the trailer and its load.

Access to 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 cross over 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

Identify risks
Careful planning means it will be clear when the access equipment needs to move between jobs in the work location, and additional safety measures can be applied.
It is advisable to limit the number of vehicles in a work location at any one time so the access equipment has sufficient space to move.

Obstructions can be present at ground and elevated level such as people, buildings and other traffic. It is important to keep a safe working distance from all obstructions when moving access platforms around particularly if space and access are limited.

Ground Surfaces
Soft surfaces can make manoeuvrability difficult, particularly when the ground is 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.

Before using any access equipment, operatives must be fully trained in their use and carry an IPAF card or other recognised certification. Access platforms should be regularly serviced to stay in full safe, working order. If these simple steps are followed, mobile access platforms can boost speed, safety and productivity for a variety of businesses.

The International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) calling for comments from powered access platform users on managing access platform inspection, maintenance and thorough examinations of their equipment.

The Strategic Forum Plant Safety Group  has produced some draft guidance entitled Managing the safe condition of Mobile Elevating Work Platforms – A practical approach to Inspection, Maintenance and Thorough Examination of Mobile Elevating Work Platforms (MEWPs).

The draft document has been written for application in the UK, within the UK legislative jurisdiction and can be accessed by IPAF members through the website www.ipaf.org. IPAF members are encouraged to consider the draft guidance and to give constructive comments using the relevant comment form by 27 May 2016.

Access platform inspection legal requirements

An access platform inspection is required by UK law and is also important to prevent serious accidents, extend the lifespan of a machine and ensure a legal and protected resale value.

The main types of access platform inspection are:
– Pre-use access platform inspection checks
– Six-monthly or annual access platform inspection /examination by a competent person
– Major access platform inspections within ten years of service

A record of these checks should be kept throughout the machine’s lifespan and used to evidence safe working or passed on to the new owner when it is sold.

Pre-use access platform inspection

A pre-start inspection should be carried out every day and all operatives should be trained to carry them out and aware of any findings. The checks will confirm that the access platform is safe to use and identify any potential issues before working at height.

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.

Six month checks

Powered access platforms are only safe and efficient if they are in premium working condition and regular inspections and maintenance are required by law for lifting equipment. All equipment used to lift persons must undergo a thorough examination by a competent person at least once every six months. Don’t be afraid to ask for the credentials of whoever carries out the inspection and keep a record of the service history.

Major inspections

Powered access platforms should undergo a major inspection within 10 years of being originally put into service and then every 5 years after that. Machines that have had a sustained high use or worked in a corrosive environment may need to be inspected sooner. The inspection should only be performed by a competent person who is up to speed on developments relevant to the inspection and maintenance of powered access platforms such as legislation, standards and best practice and machine technology and design.

To take part in the consultation got to www.ipaf.org

Powered access platforms have made working at height much safer but it can still be a risky business and a large number of serious or fatal workplace accidents are avoidable if the hazards are effectively managed.

Managing risk means identifying the potential dangers for each job and taking steps to avoid them. It may not be possible to remove a hazard completely, such as an overhead power line, but understanding and documenting how they might affect a particular job, and making the workforce aware, will create a safer working environment.

The flexibility of powered access platforms to operate effectively in a range of indoor and outdoor locations means that risk assessments have to take a range of external factors into account. They also have legal implications if something goes wrong which is why they should be carried out by an experienced and responsible person.

Where to start

By law, employers and self-employed contractors must carry out an adequate assessment of the potential risks on each job so they can do everything ‘reasonably practicable’ to protect people from harm. The process does not need to be overly complicated but it is an essential part of planning and completing a job.
The risks will depend on the job location but here are some of the more common issues consider:

Ground Conditions – The access platform should operate on firm, stable ground which has been checked for strength and unseen hazards, such as underground services or cellars.

Confined spaces – Avoid trapping incidents by identifying obstacles and ensuring the safety controls are kept clear.

Weight – Each machine has a maximum weight capacity which includes people and equipment being lifted. Exceeding this limit can lead to overturning.

Weather – Changeable conditions can affect the platform and the ground conditions including heavy rain and ice and high winds.

Fall protection – A harness and lanyard may be required if there is an additional risk of falls such as during adverse weather or working on fragile surfaces.

Obstructions – Overhead power cables, branches or masonry can all pose a risk so safe distances should be assessed at height and ground level.

Falling objects – Workers on the ground may also be at risk from falling tools or objects in the work are. This can be avoided by keeping the platform tidy.

Planning a risk assessment

Identify the Hazards – Walk the site and make observations. 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 – Keep a record of the assessment and review the risks throughout the job as circumstances change all the time.

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.

Training is a legal requirement for any individuals using powered access platforms, and it is also essential to running an efficient and cost effective business for industries that work at height.

Employers and individual users – both self employed or private use – are ultimately responsible for making sure that any staff or subcontractors have the required training to safely operate any make or model of access equipment.

Accidents have a high cost in terms of people and corporate reputation. Not only do they lead to compensation payments and significant penalty charges, they can also put businesses at risk from time delays, higher insurance premiums and legal fees.

Training in the use of powered access platforms is the key to a successful and efficient business. There are a wide range of training courses available for different levels of user including operators, demonstrators, instructors and managers.

The Law

Under UK Law all access platform operatives must be fully trained before attempting to operate any machine. Accredited courses run all over the country using a combination of practical and classroom based sessions to bring people up to speed on operating equipment safely; Inspecting access platforms for defects and wear and tear; Recognising and avoiding potential hazards in the workspace; and familiarisation with the specific make and model to be used.

Training includes:
– Industry regulations and standards
– Choosing the right platform for the job
– Carrying out workplace inspections
– Operation of the powered access platform including demonstrated proficiency in all functions of the equipment
– How to recognise and avoid common hazards
– Operator warnings and instructions
– The purpose and use of manuals
– Carrying out a pre-start inspection
– Factors affecting stability
– Personal protective equipment
– General equipment components
– Safe use of equipment
– Understanding issues associated with larger machines: e.g. outriggers/stabilizers, extendable axles, envelope management systems, load-moment devices, dual capacity

Courses can be tailored to the individual requirements of your business and can many accredited training centres offer courses to be held at their premises, or on a convenient site with suitable facilities.

Powered access platforms make working at height safer, quicker and more efficient and training is not only required by law but it has notable business benefits in the short and long term. Anyone working with the equipment needs to know how to inspect it, to operate it safely, and to recognise and avoid any potential hazards. This will prevent accidents, improve the working environment and help to establish a respected business reputation.

Over the last few years, powered access platforms have dramatically reduced the number of fatal accidents involving elevated workers. The latest data shows that the trend for safer working continues.

The International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) has released the 2015 accident data. This data confirms that powered access platforms are still one of the safest ways to perform temporary work at height.

The latest figures show that the number of reported fatalities in 2015 was 68, giving a fatal injury rate of 0.035. Of the 68 reported MEWP fatalities for 2015, the main causes were overturning, falls from height, electrocution and entrapment.

There was a drop in numbers last year (2014) to 64 fatalities but this year’s figure matches the 68 reported fatalities in 2013. The breakdown from 2013-2015 shows that the main causes of fatalities were: fall from height (31%), overturn (27%), electrocution (15%) and entrapment (15%).

According to the IPAF calculations of the access platform fatal injury rate, whilst the use of access equipment has increased, the fatal injury rate has fallen. The current statistics are based on rental fleets but similar data is being gathered for user owned equipment.

The fatal injury rate is calculated based on the following factors:
– Estimated rental fleet size from IPAF market reports
– Estimated average utilisation rates per country and worldwide -the rate is the share of the fleet out on rent at any time over a year
– Average days worked per year (5 days a week for 50 weeks a year)
– The number of fatalities involving MEWPs in a year, based on the IPAF accident reporting project

Accident reporting

The IPAF accident reporting project launched in 2012. The aim is to improve the gathering an analysis of accident data relating to powered access platforms. Since then, businesses that work at height have been encouraged to voluntarily submit accident information in order to process an accurate picture of health and safety issues.

The information is already being used for a number of life saving purposes including

– Improving legislation and safety guidance

–  Supporting training for workers and operatives

– Improving the design and manufacture of access platform safety features

How to get involved In Access Platform Safety

The IPAF database is still the only central point for the recording of accident data. It relies on voluntary contributions from industries that work at height using access equipment. Manufacturers, operatives, rental companies, contractors and individuals can report fatal or serious accidents. The gathered data is confidential and only used for access platform safety improvement.

Go to www.ipaf.org to find put more about accident reporting and how your business can help to save lives and benefit from accurate and informative health and safety data.

Trapping is an avoidable risk of working at height with powered access platforms but each year it still features as a major cause of serious accidents and injuries.

Access platforms have made elevated working much safer by eliminating the need for climbing and providing a safe and stable working platform to carry out most jobs. However trapping accidents can happen at ground level and at height and many of them occur because operators have become trapped between the basket and obstructions in the work area.

Here are just some of the aggravating factors involved in trapping accidents:

  • Overturning due to soft ground conditions or instability
  • Reversing or elevating into an obstruction
  • Unexpected movement of a boom near to an obstruction
  • Poor visibility at height or ground level
  • Access equipment failure

How to avoid trapping accidents

Risk assessment – Make sure a full assessment of the work site is carried out by a responsible person including ground conditions, access and obstructions. This should be recorded and reassessed throughout the job.

Choose the right equipment – Different makes and model of access equipment are suitable for specific types of job. Vertical lift access platforms, for example, are ideal for working in confined spaces, where trapping accidents often occur. Equipment should be serviced every six months under UK law and checked before the start of each job.

Manage obstructions – Plan sufficient space to avoid obstructions when moving and operating in the work space. Be aware of overhead obstructions and avoid driving a mobile access platform when elevated unless it is necessary.

Educated workforce – All staff should be qualified to work with powered access platforms and familiarised with the specific machine being used, including mobile parts and safety controls. They also need to be aware of what to do in a rescue situation.

Extra safety – Ensure platform hand and foot controls  and emergency lowering controls can be accessed at all time and consider the use of a harness or lanyard if it will boost safer working for dangerous jobs, such as roofing or glazing.

Rescue planning – Assess whether it is best to rescue from the ground or if the operative is uninjured and can rescue themselves by lowering the platform. In some more serious cases, it may be necessary to use another machine for the rescue but this should be a last resort.

Most trapping accidents involving powered access platforms are avoidable if the basic rules of health and safety are applied. Carry out a comprehensive risk assessment, choose the right equipment for the job and make sure staff are qualified and competent and the access equipment will actually make jobs safer for everyone involved.