15 May 2016
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.
8 May 2016
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
21 April 2016
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.
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.
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.
14 April 2016
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.
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.
– 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.
11 April 2016
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
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
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.
31 March 2016
Avoiding trapping accidents whilst working at height with powered access platforms is easy. Observe a few simple rules and you will always avoid trapping accidents in the workplace.
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:
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 to avoid trapping accidents.
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.
Avoid trapping accidents involving powered access platforms by ensuring 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.
28 March 2016
[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Powering access platforms needs energy or fuel and different power options are available, for working at height in different locations.
Choosing the right access equipment for the needs of your job is essential and powering access platforms is a major consideration. Different makes and models offer a choice of power sources to work safely in different environments. The power supply is used to travel & operate the lifting and extending of equipment while carrying the maximum weight load of people and equipment.
The main varieties of power supply are:
– An internal combustion engine powered by fuel such as diesel or petrol
– Electrical power supply (AC) that can be plugged into the mains
– Electric power supply (DC) with lead acid or lithium batteries
– Dual power hybrid with battery power and combustion engine for additional power
The choice of power supply and type of access platform depend on the specific requirements of a job. There are a number of things to consider which should be evident from the pre-job risk assessment.
Noise levels are a major concern as there are both UK and EU regulations that govern how much noise you can make in specific environments, including indoor working and densely populated areas. In confined spaces, such as narrow streets or indoors, noise echoes off walls, ceilings and floors and the roar of a diesel engine can sound even louder than usual.
All access platforms are marked with their sound power level so it is easy to tell when a particular machine is unsuitable for a particular working environment.
Electrical power supplies are quieter than a diesel engine and are powered by either a mains supply or battery. Most models of spider lift, tracked access platform or other equipment which is designed to work indoors have an electric or duel fuel engine.
Wherever you are working, you need to make sure there is a sufficient fuel supply to complete the necessary tasks. A rapid battery charging system provides fume free operation for confined working spaces without the need to rely on AC power and trailing cables and is available on some newer models of machine such as the Spider 18.9 PRO-E which has a 300Ah lithium battery for an extended working lifespan.
Engines are louder and are most common form of power supply on powered access platforms but need diesel or petrol to operate. They are suitable for use in a vast range of working environments and temperatures, on and off site and throughout the seasons.
Whatever the job or working environment, select the type of powered access platform with the right power supply to meet the needs of the job and make sure it has sufficient fuel or access to energy to work safely and efficiently.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
19 March 2016
Spring is the start of the peak seasonal time for work with powered access platforms as businesses that work at height can capitalise on the benefits of longer working days and improved weather conditions.
This particular season also brings the prospect of lots of spring jobs at height which are carried out less frequently in winter months. It marks the start of the boom season for construction companies and safer outdoor working.
One of the many advantages of using powered access platforms is the ability to work at height safely in a variety of locations; they are multi-functional as well as flexible suiting the needs of a diverse range of industries from construction to farming.
Maintenance and construction
Winter storms cause damage to roofs, signs, streetlights and buildings and create a backlog of maintenance issues for buildings and urban areas. Access platforms are ideal for tackling these small but important jobs, safely and efficiently.
Access equipment, such as spider lifts, can move easily around urban areas, including through alleys and gateways, operating safely in confined spaces to carry out repairs and maintenance jobs. Gutters that have been clogged with leaves and grime can seriously affect building structure and fragile roofs. Access equipment provides a safe, secure working platform to carry out repairs with minimal risk to the workforce.
Parks, woodland and rural areas need clearing of dead leaves, fallen branches and debris, and replanting for the spring growing season. Access platforms can reach verges and embankments which need to be cleared of rotting vegetation and debris, especially in hard to reach places such as roadsides and railway sidings.
Powered access platforms are the machine of choice for many tree surgeons as they offer a speedy way to climb trees, lift tools and move between locations. They are used for clearing falling branches, trimming and maintaining trees in walking areas, planting new trees, and removing dead branches.
Powered access platforms are used to reach windows quickly and clean even hard to reach areas. Industrial cleaning firms use them widely to complete the spring jobs and summer jobs. Machines such as boom lifts offer significant height and outreach to overcome obstacles and work safely at height.
Powered access platforms are flexible and versatile to tackle jobs in a variety of working environments. They are used in urban and rural areas to clean up the mess of winter and prepare parks, gardens and urban areas for the fast growth and warmer weather of the summer months, offering a safe and secure platform to work from.
13 March 2016
Maintaining powered access platforms is a smart business move for many industries that work at height and careful machine maintenance is key to getting the most out of your machine.
Access equipment that is kept in prime working order will not only have an extended lifetime and increased resale value, but will boost workforce health, safety and productivity. Regular inspections and maintenance of lifting equipment are required by law and the ability to spot problems and issues is included in the mandatory training for access platform operatives.
There are two pieces of current UK legislation that govern maintaining powered access platforms:
– Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER)
– Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER)
These regulations are in place to ensure that a machine is in safe working order throughout its lifespan and to protect the people using it, and anyone else in the vicinity, from harm.
A thorough examination of the machine should be completed before the start of every job. This will look for signs of wear and tear and make sure all the moveable parts, controls and safety components are in full working order.
Checks should be carried out whilst maintaining powered access platform including machines that are used frequently and those that only come out for occasional jobs.
All operatives using the access platforms should be fully trained and the process of completing the checks will help to familiarise them with the specific make and model they are using.
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 is working on the access platform and keep a record of the machines service history.
As well as all the daily checks, a full service will include a detailed inspection of the following:
– Lifting, lowering, rotating and extending equipment
– Safety systems and controls including sensors, emergency lowering, stop buttons, limiters and communication systems
– All parts of the work platform/basket including the floor and gates, guardrails and toe boards and safety harness points
– Screws, nuts and bolts, bearings, hydraulics, electrics, ropes and chains
– Batteries, power supplies and pumps
– Hydraulics and electrics
– Brakes and steering
– Chassis and stabilisers
These are a detailed mechanical review of the access platform every ten years. They check the structural integrity and operation of the critical components of the machine to make sure it complies with safety regulations and can add to the resale value.
It is important to keep a record of the checks and the full service history both to comply with the health and safety regulations and to pass on a full record of the access platform’s service history if it is sold.
Making the investment to own a powered access platform has major business benefits including increased safety and productivity. To get the most out of a machine, it is essential to keep it in optimum working order. This means regular servicing and pre start checks, which will help the access platform to hold it’s value and work effectively for longer and will anticipate any mechanical risks or issues which could prevent accidents.