17 December 2017
With the new year coming up soon. now is a good time to reflect on the past year and your training program for using powered access platforms. Both employers and individual users are liable if the people in charge of the machinery are not properly trained. Training on MEWPs can make working at height safer, quicker and more efficient but it should be remembered that operators need a PAL card and this needs to be renewed every 5 years. Are all log books up to date? Is a refresher course needed?
If your future job plans mean working in higher risk or challenging environments your operators may need a PAL+ card. Special training is available, for example, for working in confined overhead spaces or on challenging terrain.
There are courses for managers who are responsible for planning, supervising and effectively managing the use of powered access equipment. This is not about operating the machines per se, it’s about health and safety regulations, accident prevention and control, protective equipment and pre-use checks and maintenance schedules.
All levels of management would benefit from this type of training. This includes project managers, foremen and supervisors working in a broad range of industries such as construction, facilities management, retail, airports and arboriculture.
Employers and individual users must make sure operators are properly trained. Rental companies are also obliged to direct their clients to appropriate training if they don’t deliver it themselves.
Courses are available for:
Accredited training centres are located across the country and courses can be held at their premises, or on a convenient site with suitable facilities.
Training on MEWPs is a combination of classroom based study and hands-on experience with the equipment and 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 and envelope management systems.
IPAF the aerial work platform industry professionals have recently developed an online eLearning training course for operators.
This new enhanced eLearning module is part of IPAF’s full training programme for operators of mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs). The eLearning module delivers flexibility and interactive tools, with the same emphasis on practical training. Operator eLearning does not replace practical training. Trainees who complete the online session must still pass a supervised theory test at an IPAF approved training centre and must successfully complete a minimum half-day of practical training and testing.
Powered access platforms have many benefits for working at height but there is a legal obligation to make sure they are used safely and properly. Training staff is not only a legal requirement but jobs can be completed more efficiently if everyone involved knows how to use the equipment properly and dangerous and costly accidents are avoided.
10 December 2017
Using MEWPs for working at height is one of the safest ways to reach those elevated areas to get vital work done. At this time of year power access platforms are doing their bit to bring festive cheer to brighten our day. Public spaces, malls and shops all rely on MEWPs to get the Christmas trees, decorations and lights in place all adding to the Season’s cheer.
Although the fatal injury rate for power access platforms is declining, there were still 66 reported MEWP fatalities in 2016. The main causes were falls from height, electrocution, entrapment and overturn of machinery. Chris Wraith, IPAF’s Safety & Technical Executive, commented: “While it is heartening to see the effective fatal injury rate fall … we must not be complacent. It is disappointing to see the same main causes of fatalities being repeated year on year, which suggests that the industry as a whole is not learning the lessons from previous incidents. Investigations show that accidents are most often due to management failings or operator error, which can in almost all cases be anticipated and avoided, or at least mitigated.”
The IPAF accident reporting project has identified a number of valuable learning outcomes and as a result, are reinforcing the key messages with a series of posters featuring the characters “Andy Access” and “Hugh Hazard”. These are available from www.ipaf.org/AndyAccess.
Using a MEWP as a crane may seem a quick, convenient idea but it is highly dangerous. As the IPAF poster reiterates “MEWPs are designed to elevate people, tools and equipment inside the work platform”. Using powered access platforms as a crane can easily tip the platform over creating a danger both for the occupant and the those on the ground.
Before the job begins a site survey and risk assessment will determine if a crane is needed. If access is difficult with height and width restrictions, a compact crane like the Reedyk – C3410 is perfect. Thanks to the strong non-marking rubber tracks the crane has a zero turning radius. The Crane travel is radio controlled, allowing it to pass through a gap of only 1m wide. It can lift up to 3,840kg with a working height of 16m. It can also pick and carry up to 1,000kg.
The compact crane and a compact powered access platform are the perfect partners to safely tackle those difficult to reach places where access is restricted. Choosing the right equipment for the job, proper training and good risk assessment are essential to help reduce accidents in the industry.
26 November 2017
It’s that time of year again! The festive season has arrived amidst a festoon of decorations hanging in all the shops. Wander through the malls and you can’t help but be impressed with the magnificence of the hanging decorations. Suspended as if by magic they are of course the result of careful planning and specialist working at height equipment. Operating MEWPS indoors poses a number of challenges for the teams involved.
Operating MEWPS indoors can add to the usual safety concerns for the workforce. It can be complicated to get the MEWPS indoors to the work area, let alone set it up and start using it. MEWPS often need to be transported through a tight space and set up, taking care not to damage the surrounding environment and making sure the machine is fully operational and safe despite these additional limitations.
Our MEWPS have been specially designed to work indoors. They provide maximum functionality both indoors, and in tight spaces. Sometimes referred to as spider lifts, the name comes from the shape of the stabilizer legs. These legs fold up to enable the lift to be used in narrow spaces. They will pass through standard width doorways or gateways which would be problematic for other types of lift. This clever design does not mean a compromise on the overall functionality of the lift as they are still able to safely reach significant heights, and have strength and stability on the Mall floors.
They have a number of features which make them particularly useful for jobs indoors or in more delicate areas.
• A tracked chassis to spread the weight of the lift over a larger area and reduce the ground bearing pressure, preventing damage to fragile floors or pathways.
• Electric motor power option for indoor use which reduces operational noise with no exhaust fumes.
• Lower overall weight than other types of lift but with no reduced functionality.
• Easy to transport as most are road towable.
• Radio control options for use in tight space.
Due to their narrow design and low ground pressure make our MEWPS flexible and reliable on delicate surfaces. The spider-like legs can even be set up in different positions on different ground levels (for example steps or platforms). This means our MEWPS can be used in compact spaces where other lifts are unable to work.
MEWPS are the least disruptive type of powered access platform. They are not only flexible, but also adaptable for a range of unique and specific jobs. They have reduced noise, flexible access and can be used on most surfaces without compromising safety or functionality. MEWPS do not cause damage to more delicate surfaces, even in the most unusual spaces.
So the next time you are riding up the escalator admiring the decorations, spare a thought for the wonder of the MEWP that allowed it all to happen and tell the kids the Christmas fairies did it all 🙂
19 November 2017
Choosing a MEWP for a specific job can make a difference to the time it takes to do and how much it costs to get the job done.
Different models have alternative features that can suit very specific tasks at height and in a wide range of locations and circumstances. As with any job, it is essential to get the right equipment and the right people.
When you are choosing a MEWP there are some questions you need to ask to help you choose the right equipment for your specific business needs.
• How far will people and equipment need to be transported?
• What is the height distance that needs to be reached?
• How many people will it take to complete the job?
• Is the job on or off site and how does this impact on the work?
• Are there multiple tasks that could require a vehicle mounted access platform?
• Is the job indoors or outdoors?
• Is it a tight space that could require a spider lift?
• Is there sufficient room to reach the site, set up and safely install and remove the access equipment?
• Are there any obstructions such as branches or architectural overhangs which may need the flexibility of a boom lift?
• Can the ground take the weight of the powered access platform?
• Are there any steep slopes or poor ground conditions?
• Are there any fragile surfaces that could require extra stability?
• Can the site be accessed by road or will it require an all-terrain powered access platform?
• Do you have on-going jobs at height or is it a one off requirement?
• Is it more cost effective to buy rather than rent equipment?
• Do you have adequate storage space for an access platform?
• Are staff trained to operate a powered access platform safely and effectively?
• Has a risk assessment been carried out on site?
• Does the job require heavy lifting?
Powered access equipment is a the safest option for working at height, especially if the job involves reaching awkward spaces, lifting heavy tools or equipment, accessing jobs in hard to reach areas or on unstable ground and fragile surfaces.
Different equipment can solve a range of specific problems including working indoors or in tight spaces (spider lifts); reaching jobs in remote areas (all-terrain vehicles); and carrying out multiple jobs on site in one go (mobile work platforms).
Each individual job and industry will have specific requirements for access equipment but asking the right questions are a good starting point to ensure you get the best powered access solution.
12 November 2017
Thankfully accidents involving MEWPs have been declining over the last ten years. HSE legislation and IPAF awareness programmes have played an important role but on the front line it is the users of access power equipment who are pivotal in ensuring safety at height and reducing accidents.
For the safe performance of your powered access platform, is vital to ensure the equipment is in the optimum condition before every use. Maintaining and servicing access equipment will prolong its life and is required to meet health and safety regulations.
A pre-start inspection should be carried out every day and all staff should be briefed in what they entail. These checks will confirm that the machinery is safe to operate and identify any potential hazards it may pose before the work at height is carried out.
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.
– Test all lift controls before any people or equipment are raised from the ground. This should include cut out switches and emergency stop mechanisms.
Hydraulic fluid and petrol
– The oil level in the tank should be full when the platform is on a level surface and there should be enough fuel in the tank to complete the job.
– Check the vehicle for any signs of damage or age which might cause it to malfunction. This should include identifying damaged or loose hoses or fittings, rust, corrosion, holes and electrical faults.
– For a mobile access platform, the brakes of the vehicle should be fully functional. The base of a powered access platform needs to be locked into position before the platform is extended or elevated. Check all stabiliser legs and extendable parts are operational before use.
Before you set up a full risk assessment should be carried out at the site of any job to identify any potential hazards such as overhead power lines or underground services, and to check the ground conditions.
As a minimum you should…
• Make sure the ground is strong enough to take the weight of the equipment before you start to lift anyone or anything.
• Clearly mark off your work area to ensure you have a safe area to complete the job.
• Only allow trained operatives to control the access equipment.
• Make sure the powered access platform is fully stabilized before operation.
• Do not exceed the maximum load capacity of the access platform.
Carrying out the relevant checks before you start will ensure safety at height. It is worth checking the equipment thoroughly yourself as part of the overall risk assessment of your job. Not only will this ensure that your equipment is well maintained and fit for purpose for longer but it will also prevent avoidable accidents.
5 November 2017
Whether you are onsite or offsite, working at height requires a suitable MEWP Risk Assessment to avoid potential dangers.
In the construction industry, work at height is the main cause of fatal and serious injury in the construction industry. Worryingly, most accidents occur on smaller projects. Using powered access platforms does make carrying out jobs at height safer and faster but there are still potential risks and it is important to make sure all staff are aware of any precautions to take.
Health and Safety Executive (HSE) statistics show more than 60% of deaths resulting from work at height involve falls from ladders, scaffolds, working platforms and roof edges; or falling through fragile roofs. Although this has been a downward trend for the past 10 years, the financial cost has been significant along with the human cost to families and friends.
To continue the downward trend of work at height accidents, the law requires employers and self-employed contractors to carry out an adequate MEWP risk assessment of the potential risks on each job so they can do everything ‘reasonably practicable’ to protect people from harm.
Carrying out a MEWP Risk Assessment does not need to be overly complicated but it does need to be an important part of planning and completing a job. Both the supervisors and the staff should be aware of the potential dangers so they can actively avoid them.
The HSE website provides full and detailed advice on planning and completing a risk assessment for a wide range of jobs but here are the five main points to consider:
• Identify the Hazards – Walk round the site and make observations. Some of these may be obvious but 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 – Check the maintenance of the powered access platform and other equipment and make sure that workers know how to operate it safely and effectively. Take extra steps to prevent any person falling a distance that could cause personal injury and use equipment to minimise the distance and consequences of a fall if necessary, such as safety nets.
• Review your assessment and update if necessary – circumstances change all the time so your assessment of the risks will too.
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. Visit the HSE website for more information.
29 October 2017
Working at height in winter can mean working in harsh conditions with wind, ice and snow all added hazards for industries carrying out work at height. MEWPs (mobile elevated work platforms) are not only designed to be safe and fully functional in bad winter weather, but are used for essential maintenance tasks in towns and in the countryside to keep things running.
Working at height in winter can increase the health and safety risks for workers and create additional access problems. All-terrain powered access platforms are designed to minimise the risks and challenges posed by working at height in winter weather conditions. With their tracking spreading the weight of the equipment, it’s easier to reach hard to get to places, on and off road, in a safe and stable way.
Both tracked and four-wheel drive MEWPs are designed to reach higher in demanding work environments. They are lightweight and agile, with some four-wheel drives having different steering modes, and so are more mobile and easy to use on rough terrain. With an articulated riser and telescopic boom they make it possible to reach over obstacles, such as fallen trees or snow drifts, and sophisticated levelling mechanisms keep them stable and safe to use even when set up on severely sloping terrain.
Even in the world’s most extreme weather conditions, powered access platforms are relied upon to get the job done. Specially adapted platforms for working at height in winter are available. Snow tracks, specialist oils and hostile environment kits have been used in Antarctica for construction on the compacted snow and ice of the Brunt Ice Shelf.
MEWPs are also essential for a number of jobs in icy conditions that keep our infrastructure and living environment safe and functional:
• Airports rely on powered access to de-ice planes before take-off which prevents additional flight delays. Ice can build up on the wings and structure of the plane creating a drag effect or even preventing take off. Powered access platforms are used to spray the plane with a de-icer that works at temperatures way below freezing, though high pressure hoses.
• Powered access is essential for making streets and built up areas safe in extreme weather conditions with essential maintenance such as removing icicles from the roofs of buildings which can be hazardous if they fall, clearing guttering and mending roofs that have been damaged by wind or icy conditions.
• Rescue situations and emergency services, including mountain rescue and the fire brigade, rely on powered access to manage situations quickly and safely even in bad weather.
These are just a few of the ways that powered access platforms are used to keep the country going in the harsh winter months. They are designed to cope with the harsh demands of winter weather conditions on and off road. With the ability to be stable and safe and access difficult areas, even in the face of obstacles, they are vital to safety in the working and living environments.
Please feel free get in touch if you would like more details. Alternatively our friendly staff are always on hand to answer any questions that you may have on 01226 716657.
22 October 2017
• Fully mobile
• Access restricted space
• Use internally and externally
• Improve site safety
• Qualified Training available
• Cost effective
To get people, tools and equipment to heights safely and quickly, there are times when traditional working solutions can limit productivity.
Powered access platforms offer a flexible way to reach jobs at height – they are fully mobile and can access areas with restricted space, improve site safety, and save money. Different types of powered access platforms can support a range of industry sectors from cleaning windows, to construction sites, to saving lives.
Powered access platforms can be transported, set up and utilised quickly and easily with flexibility, depending on the demands of the job. Larger platforms can be road towed for set up on site, or vehicle mounted platforms offer maximum portability. Some models have the ability safely while the platform is raised; a major benefit for completing multiple jobs in different locations on or off site.
For tighter spaces or building interiors, spider lift access platforms are lightweight with low ground pressure. They can be used internally or externally without damaging floors or pathways and will fit through standard sized doorways and gates.
Even jobs in extreme conditions are accessible with all-terrain vehicles that have four wheel drive and four wheel steering options to access hard to reach places, and levelling controls that stabilise on steep sloped ground.
Powered access platforms are a simple solution for lifting both people and essential equipment at height. Heavy tools or materials, specialist equipment or breakables are raised safely and quickly.
Industry standards regulate the manufacture and maintenance so they are easy to operate and robust.
Training in the use of access equipment is required by law but will benefit businesses in the long run as the equipment will be used quickly and efficiently by a small number of staff. Even road towable boom lifts have an on-board drive system. They are put in position by one person to reach heights of 10 to 26 metres.
In most jobs, time is money and powered access platforms will save money by improving speed and efficiency. They are convenient and safe, reducing time spent on risk assessments and setting up equipment, such as scaffolding, onsite.
They require less staff to operate them, saving on labour costs, and are flexible and easy to move mid-job. They can also lift heavy weights and specialist equipment that might be costly to move around using traditional lifting methods.
Whether you are looking to buy or hire the equipment, powered access platforms, are mobile, safe and flexible. They resolve a number of issues posed by traditional lifting methods. These include access to tight spaces, hard to reach areas, health and safety considerations and value for money. Whatever the size and location of your job, they are easy to operate and install, safe to use and can cater for a range of needs and requirements for different business that work at height.
15 October 2017
Urban areas and town centres are always evolving and changing. They require on-going maintenance by contractors and local authorities which is often aided by powered access platforms.
Many of these jobs are at height and need to be carried out in the fastest and safest way possible to avoid disruption for people and businesses, and minimise the risk to operatives and pedestrians in built up areas.
• Pedestrians who may be moving in and around the working area
• Weather which is changeable and could be affected by nearby buildings
• Unstable ground conditions on pavements or pathways. Shallow sewers and services underneath will restrict weight loads and may require a tracked access platform
• Multi location jobs means there may be a need to move between tasks quickly using mobile access platforms
• Obstructions from buildings, street lights, trees and overhead power lines could all pose a problem when attempting to reach a job at height
Access equipment is a common sight in town centres and streets as it used by numerous industries for a range of essential tasks including:
• Construction – building sites use access platforms for jobs including roofing, tiling, windows and services.
• Maintenance – Powered access platforms are used to carry out repairs and servicing to street lighting, clearing gutters, fixing roofs, window cleaning and to complete other general repairs.
• Signage – Signs are essential to urban areas on highways and streets and for private companies such as retailer and businesses
• Rescue situations – The fire service depends on powered access platforms to help them save lives. This could be reaching high windows to get people out of a burning building or even a lift with a hose to target water at specific areas of fire. Many of the platforms can carry heavy weights and multiple people and reach significant heights quickly and safely.
• Tree surgery and landscaping – Trees need to be kept under control to avoid the dangers of falling branches or poor visibility for vehicles and a powered access platform is not only quicker but much safer and less exhausting than climbing a ladder to reach the top of a tree and then use a chainsaw. They are also used to clear steep verges and embankments of vegetation and debris.
Powered access platforms keep town centres and urban areas running efficiently and safely. They are essential for both new buildings and development and for taking care of the existing properties and infrastructure. Flexibility in terms of access and mobility, bearing weight and avoiding obstacles, means most jobs at height in urban areas can be completed safely and quickly without causing a major disruption or putting lives at risk unnecessarily.
8 October 2017
Powered access platforms offer a safe and speedy solution to reach most jobs at height but with a wide variety of machinery specifications, it is important to be mindful of a few things whilst finding a MEWP for the job.
Different types of access equipment have been specially designed for jobs in certain environments, for example, spider lifts can be used on fragile floors and in confined spaces whilst road/rail access platforms have a dual functionality to run on the road and train tracks. Getting it wrong can not only slow a job down, costing time and money, but could increase the health and safety risks to the workforce and public as well.
A site visit to the job location is essential to determine which high access equipment to use.
Consider the following things:
• Are there any steep slopes?
• What are the ground conditions like?
• Are there obstructions such as steelwork, overhangs or power lines?
• Look for fragile surfaces such as tiled floors or pathways
• What space is there to load at floor level?
• How high up is the job?
• Are there height and width restrictions?
Access platforms are flexible and can lift people and equipment to the necessary height in less time that it takes to climb a ladder or scaffold and winch up the necessary tools. Mobile access equipment which is mounted on a vehicle or truck is ideal for multiple jobs in one location.
Often powered access platforms can access jobs which are hard to reach or dangerous with traditional scaffolding or ladders. Boom lifts have a telescopic reach which can avoid obstacles such as architecture or overhanging branches. Spider lifts are designed for use in confined spaces, including jobs indoors, and can pass through a standard sized doorway.
Consider the potential for falls and whether you need any additional safety equipment such as guardrails, nets or safety harnesses. Make sure the people operating the access equipment are fully trained to do so.
If you are still unsure about the best powered access platform to use for your job then ask for advice at the place where you plan to rent or buy from.
Whatever machine you select, it is important to familiarise yourself with the specific make and model. Choosing the right access equipment will make a big difference to the speed and safety of your job.