30 July 2017
Powered access platforms are the safest way to work at height in most circumstances, however there are occasions when things can go wrong.
The key to a successful rescue plan starts with A comprehensive Risk Assessment. Essential information should be recorded here first:
• The Manufacturer / model / ID number
• Location of use
• Date, times and duration of rescue plan
• Ensure a ground key is available
• Appoint a ground person(s) on site, familiarised and authorised to lower the work platform in the event of an emergency or a machine malfunction
• Best ways to raise the alarm
• Who should effect the rescue and how
• Name and contact number of authorised service engineer (if needed to call)
• And record Date the Rescue Plan was last practised
Carrying out a detailed and thorough risk assessment of the job location will identify most of the potential hazards before the job starts, but sometimes human error or acts of nature, such as extreme weather conditions, can mean that things still go wrong. It is important to have a rescue plan in place to support and assist the workforce in case of an accident or mechanical failure.
Most access equipment has back-up systems built into the machine which allow the operator to return the raised platform back to ground level. Though these systems rarely fail it can still happen so it is vital to have a plan for how people can be brought down safely. Not only is it important to have a plan for rescuing someone from an MEWP but it just as important to practise it – someone on the ground should know what to do in an emergency and how to operate the machine’s ground controls.
Any rescue plan from an access platform should comply with the current health and safety legislation covered by the 2005 Work at Height Regulations. It is important to do a risk assessment for the rescue and keep a record of this assessment and all details of the rescue as this may be important to refer to at a later date. More information regarding controlling the risk of MEWP hazards can be found at the Health and Safety Executive website.
• Activate all normal emergency lowering procedures if possible
• Contact the manager of the site or project to report any failure of backup 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. This can be complicated and poses additional health and safety risks so it is important to follow the following steps:
• The rescue machine should be placed in the safest position to minimise any additional danger to anyone involved in the rescue
• Place the two machines adjacent to each other with the smallest possible gap between them
• Attach a double lanyard to both the person being rescued and the anchor points on both machines before the rescue takes place
• Never overload the rescue machine as this could lead to over-tipping or delay the rescue operation
• In exceptional circumstances where a basket-to-basket rescue is not feasible, emergency evacuation systems such as a crane rescue could be used.
Having a rescue plan is an essential part of planning a job and, though access equipment is safe and efficient, there are rare occasions when jobs don’t go to plan. Carry out a full risk assessment, keep a record of any rescue situation as it happens, and try the simplest solution first before attempting a more complicated rescue procedure and the situation can be resolved quickly and carefully. And remember to practice for such an event.
23 July 2017
The International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) globally-recognised PAL certification is proof of platform operator training to the highest standard.
The Powered Access Licence – PAL Card – is awarded to all operators of access equipment who have completed their training at any one of the 600 IPAF-approved training centres. It is recognised worldwide as proof of skill and ability by all the varied industries that rely on powered access platforms to carry out work at height.
Who Needs A PAL Card?
If you work at height and use access equipment, you need one. Basic training should be given to any teams or individuals who need to use powered access platforms to work at height. Not only will this ensure that the job is completed more efficiently but it will also safeguard against misuse of the equipment which could lead to serious injury or death and prosecution.
As the industries that work at height are so varied, the PAL card offers certification of a new skill on top of existing trades such as electrician, cleaner or window fitter.
Employers are obligated by law to provide proper training in the use of access platforms to comply with health and safety and work at height regulations. If employees have a PAL Card, it proves that all legal requirements have been fulfilled in that area.
The PAL Card
The PAL card is valid for 5 years. It shows the date on which the holder was assessed and the expiry date by which re-training would be needed and shows the types of equipment the holder has been trained to operate. It also shows to what level e.g. operator, demonstrator and instructor.
Security features including a holographic logo and the holder’s photograph and signature to prevent mis-use. Site and safety managers can verify a PAL card online or by calling the IPAF hotline: +44 (0)15395 66700.
The Smart PAL Card
All PAL Cards issued by IPAF are now smart cards and therefore all applications registered through the online system at www.ipaf-training.com will be smart cards. Smart cards are machine-readable and can be used to ensure that only trained operators can use mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs) on site.
The Smart PAL Card looks the same as the standard PAL Card – the data stored on the card, such as the operator name, number and categories trained in, is also printed on it. The only difference is that the Smart PAL Card is marked by a wireless icon and has a chip embedded in it. The data in the chip can be read by a card reader fitted to the machine. The reader can be set up to accept certain data which in turn will allow the machine to be operated.
Other Smart PAL Card Benefits
• Using Smart PAL Cards provides options to control machine access and thereby improve safety.
• Site managers can use the system to ensure that only correctly trained operators have access to specific MEWPs.
• They can also track who has used which machine for how long, and prevent fraudulent use. Operators and contractors can prevent unauthorised users from using machines that they are responsible for under any rental contract.
• The card reader system can be used to verify if pre-use checks have been done.
• An electronic logbook can be created for individual operators – showing which machines they have operated, for how long and where.
For employers across the globe, PAL Cards are a universal way of ensuring that they meet the requirements of health and safety legislation so that all operators are fully trained in the proper and safe use of access platforms, which will increase productivity and avoid serious accidents.
16 July 2017
The Vital MEWP Pre-Start Inspection
To get the optimum performance out 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 on 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.
The IPAF 41 Point MEWP Pre-Start Inspection
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.
The inspection should be a daily habit. The International Powered Access Federation (IPAF.org) has published a free checklist which can be downloaded and used to record the inspection results weekly. The checks are split between “Visual” checks and “Function” checks.
What the 41 point checklist covers
Controls – 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.
Maintenance – 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.
Stability – 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.
After the Checklist Inspection and Before the job 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. Here are a few helpful things to consider before you start:
• 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 that any jobs at height are completed quickly and safely. 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.
These are a handy reminder of points to cover for pre-use and workplace inspections. Small quantities are available free from IPAF.org
IPAF Pre-Start Inspection – Boom Lift Video
May be viewed on YouTube here.
9 July 2017
What are the benefits of a tracked MEWP?
In a nutshell they can tackle some of the most extreme and difficult ground conditions – both safely and effectively.
Because they run on a continuous track rather than on wheels, they have the ability to work on delicate surfaces both indoors and outdoors. The tracks spread the weight of the powered access platform over a wider area and exert a lot less pressure on the ground than when the weight is spread between four wheels. This means they are ideal for fragile surfaces including:
• Garden pathways
• Interior flooring
• Soft mud
• Wet sand
• Ice and snow
The most common type of tracked MEWP are spider lifts which are designed to access and operate in tight spaces that may be inaccessible to other types of access platforms. For some specialist jobs at height, tracked access platforms may be the only way to get the job done. If there are weight restrictions, or height and width limits to reach the job, then a compact design and ability to operate across a variety of ground conditions are a major advantage.
Promax Access offers a range of innovative narrow and low ground press tracked Spider Lift Access Platforms such as the Spider 13.65. This is an ultra compact and lightweight tracked MEWP featuring a telescopic boom with versatile fly-jib. Easy to set up with dual power options, it’s perfect for internal and external work where there is limited space and access or on fragile ground conditions
Spider lifts can be used on steep slopes and are able to fit through a standard doorway sized gap if necessary. They are used by a diverse range of industries working at height because of their flexibility and adaptability to interior and exterior working environments.
Some of the key features include:
• Able to stabilize on sloping ground
• Can be used indoors with an electric motor for noise reduction and white tracks to prevent marking floors
• Great ground clearance for difficult work sites
• Tracks and boom can be controlled proportionally
• Can fit through a standard size, single doorway or gate
However, it should be remembered that tracked access platforms may not be suitable for all jobs. An initial risk assessment prior to working outdoors may indicate that the four wheel drive capacity of a dedicated all-terrain access platform may be needed to reach jobs at height in more extreme off-road locations and weather conditions.
A tracked MEWP offers versatility for a wide range of jobs at height. They can be used on many ground surfaces and the low ground pressure provides stability and safety on internal floors, on gardens and driveways, and in soft outdoor ground conditions. Combined with a spider lift, they are one of the most adaptable and useful lightweight powered access platforms available.
25 June 2017
So you’ve got a few jobs that really need a powered access platform to do safely and efficiently. You’ve looked at the cost of buying, both new and second hand, but the company isn’t quite ready yet for that leap into a big capital purchase. It’s a decision that can’t be rushed into but renting a MEWP quickly to get the next few jobs done.
At this stage, many companies, especially smaller firms, find it more cost effective to rent powered access platforms rather than investing in their own equipment.
Finding a reliable and reputable hire firm is essential to make sure that you have the right access equipment for your job and that the machines you hire are functioning to the highest standards possible.
There are a few useful things to consider when deciding to hire powered access platforms which will help you find the right equipment from the right supplier.
Health and Safety
This is the most important consideration when renting access platforms. It is the responsibility of the person who is going to use access equipment to ensure that all users are fully trained. This is a legal requirement and is in place to avoid serious accidents or even death. Common accidents covered by training include falls from the basket, items dropped from a height and over-tipping. A reputable hire company will either be able to provide this training or direct you to a suitable independent training firm.
Servicing and Maintenance
Most rented equipment is not brand new and will be used by multiple companies in its rental lifetime. This makes it even more important to ensure that all used access equipment has been fully serviced and maintained and meets all the required safety standards. Ask your hire company to show you details of the servicing and who has worked on it.
Before you hire a powered access platform, you need to know the specifics of the job to make sure you are renting the right equipment. This may include location, the height of the job, access to the site, obstacles that need to be overcome, and the number of people or type of equipment that need to be lifted to the required height. If you are unsure about what you need then speak to your hire company as they will be able to advise you on choosing the right equipment and any health and safety requirements
A full risk assessment should be carried out before starting any job and this should include details of the relevant ground conditions. The strength and type of ground surface vary depending on location and even the weather but is very important to the stability of access equipment. Many powered access platforms are able to stabilize on steep gradients though some fragile floors may need extra assistance. If you are concerned, ask your rental firm if they can rent or recommend spreader plates which will spread the pressure load and increase safety.
Hiring a powered access platform is cost effective for smaller firms or for private use and can save money on storage, maintenance and the other outgoings associated with owning a powered access platform. It is important to find a good hire firm that can provide quality equipment and advice to help your needs. Your hire firm should support you to make the right choice of access platform and comply with health and safety demands so you can get your job completed quickly, safely and with confidence.
18 June 2017
We would all like to buy a new car – the latest model with sexy looks, serious gizmos and enough room for the whole family including dogs, ponies and the occasional kitchen sink. Sometimes, however, the budget doesn’t quite stretch that far and we need to cut our coat according to our cloth.
It’s the same with the decision to buy a powered access platform. Perhaps initially your workload has only demanded you renting a MEWP when necessary. Then your workload increases and rental costs start to bite into your profits and that old question “to buy or not to buy” raises its head again.
A shiny new machine is tempting – look at all the catalogues, visit the showrooms, compare the costs. It’s a big investment. Perfect if you have the money available. But sometimes cash flow and budget enter the scenario. But at least you can get an idea of what you need for your business. Research the right type of budget MEWP for your specific needs, one that will do the majority of the work that you currently hire a machine for. Then start to shop around.
Fortunately, there is a thriving market for quality, pre-owned access equipment which is available at a reduced price.
Buying used access equipment can be an affordable solution for a business that has regular and multiple jobs at height. It is an investment that over time will pay for itself by saving on rental costs and any time lost by using traditional climbing methods such as ladders or scaffolding.
If you are buying second hand then it’s important to make sure to know the history of a powered access platform. Used budget MEWPS are sold by many rental and retail firms and there are a few things to look out for:
• Age – Find out how old the powered access platform is to make sure it is still possible to get parts and servicing.
• History – Ask who the previous owners were and what the equipment has previously been used for as this could affect wear and tear.
• Model – Spend time researching the right platform for specific tasks. For example, vehicle mounted access platforms offer ease of mobility, or a spider lift is suitable for work in tight spaces.
• Servicing and maintenance – It is important to find out when and who has inspected equipment over its lifetime and that there is proof that it complies with current safety legislation. Also ask about the credentials of whoever has done the work to make sure they are fully trained and experienced.
• LOLER Certified – Ensure it has been thoroughly examined and a new certificate issued
• Storage and insurance – Always consider the additional costs of owning an expensive piece of equipment. Find out what the legal requirements are with regard to servicing and make sure there is a secure place to store the platform when it is not in use.
Even after these considerations, it may still be the case that renting powered access platforms offers the best value for money and flexibility for a smaller business. However, pre-owned access platforms offer value for money and can be more cost-effective in the long term if the number of jobs at height increases.
Reputable suppliers will ensure they are acquired from reputable sources, fully serviced and inspected so they provide maximum efficiency at a more affordable price. Ask the right questions and make an informed decision.
11 June 2017
Powered access platforms are efficient, safe and can cut time and costs for most jobs at height but investing in plant is a big decision for many companies. Depending on the size of your job and your business needs, there are pros and cons to buying a MEWP or choosing to rent individual machines on a job-by-job basis.
Obviously, some financial analysis is needed before a decision can be made to purchase. It may be prudent to start by renting on a job-by-job basis, but if you’re renting requirement starts to increase over time and it eats into your job-by-job profit, it’s time to start considering your options.
Buying a MEWP is a definite bonus to growing companies that have multiple and regular jobs at height.
The number one benefit that may tip the balance in favour of buying a MEWP could be saving tax. In the UK you can deduct all or some of the value of the item from your profits before you pay tax. Talk to your accountant about Capital Allowances and check out the Government website. Additionally, Capital Equipment Assets and their depreciation can improve the company Balance Sheet.
Other benefits why buying may be the best choice for your business:
Branding – owning your own equipment means you can brand with your company logo which could be important if you want to attract new customers or if you are a public service organisation.
Saving money long term – If you do a lot of jobs at height then renting equipment can be costly and it makes financial sense to own the necessary access platforms. Look back over your previous year’s trading and do the sums
Training – Larger firms can train multiple staff to use the equipment which is good for business and enables firms to have job flexibility.
Some companies can be put off by the initial cost of buying a powered access platform but there are other options to consider:
Used access platforms – Quality, pre-owned access equipment can be bought for a reduced price.
Service history – Reputable suppliers will ensure they are acquired from reputable sources, fully serviced and inspected.
Finance options – Some suppliers offer finance plans for customers to help them buy the plant they need. Look for accredited lending schemes with payment options including hire purchase, leases and contract hire. Again, there could be tax benefits under such an arrangement.
Not every user of a powered access platform is a larger company with multiple jobs at height so for private jobs and one-off tasks then renting may be a better option.
Cost effective – Renting saves money on the costs of keeping and running a large powered access vehicle that is not in use for a lot of the time.
Servicing and maintenance – The costs of servicing and maintenance can be saved as they are the responsibility of the rental firm. This means the equipment is always security checked and safe to use, with the relevant documentation. Users still need to be trained in the use of both powered access equipment and the model of lift used, even if it is for a private job.
Storage – Some powered access platforms are large and need a lot of storage space that could be difficult to find. Not everyone has room for a road towable boom lift in their garage!
There are pros and cons to renting and buying powered access equipment and the right choice will depend on your individual needs. The issues are still the same when considering what is right for your business: tax breaks, value for money, safety and servicing, and storage.
Make sure you are choosing the right tools for the job before you sign a contract and that anyone using it is fully trained and take these things into account when making your investment. Look for any “hidden” costs you may not have thought off.
4 June 2017
Powered access platforms are designed to be strong and stable on a wide range of floors and spaces, on and off site, but tip overs are still the most common type of accident. However, these dangerous and expensive incidents can be avoided as there are two main factors which can prevent MEWP stability problems:
i) knowing how to use the equipment properly and
ii) carefully assessing surface they are used on.
Stabilising the Mobile Elevated Work Platform
MEWPs use various methods to stabilise on uneven ground – some spider lifts have adjustable legs that can be set up in different positions and on different levels, whilst all-terrain vehicles can be set up on severely sloping gradients.
Key points to remember:
• Each machine has benefits and limitations so it is essential to be familiar with the specifics and only operate the machine within the manufacturer’s recommendations.
• Inspect the machinery to make sure it is fit for use and ensure operators are fully trained (this is a legal requirement).
• Look out for the warning lights on the control panel. This will tell the operator if the machine is not level.
• Outriggers generate high pressure at the feet which may not be supported by many areas of soil or unmade ground and even some paved areas, so additional foundations may be required. A site survey and risk assessment will highlight potential MEWP stability problems.
Checking the Ground
Ground conditions have a big impact on the stability of MEWPs and as part of the risk assessment, 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.
Consider these when completing a ground survey:
• The weather has a big impact on outdoor ground conditions, in particular, rain and ground that has thawed after an overnight frost. Regular checks should be made as conditions are changeable.
• Paved areas, such as footpaths, may look strong but could have weaker ground or shallow services underneath.
• Roads in estates and residential areas may be less durable than those designed for commercial vehicles.
• Avoid the edge of trenches and other excavations as these may collapse without warning.
• Indoor spaces should be properly surveyed as floors, cellars and basements are often unable to take the necessary weight.
• Underground services such as sewers, drains, manholes, gas and water mains might be damaged by the weight or could even collapse.
MEWPs can be stabilised and perform safely and effectively on most surfaces and gradients provided a few basic things are taken into consideration. Make sure operatives know how to use the individual machine and what it is capable of. This applies to both road towable and vehicle mounted platforms. Assess the ground conditions to be worked on to ensure the machine can be used to its optimum performance. This will prevent avoidable tip overs or subsidence accidents that can put lives at risk.
21 May 2017
Whilst powered access platforms make working at height safer, quicker and more efficient, it must be remembered that employers or individual users are liable if the people in charge of the machinery are not properly trained.
Health and safety legislation and work at height regulations make training for MEWPS compulsory. Anyone working with the equipment needs to know how to inspect it, to operate it safely, and to recognise and avoid any potential hazards. As well as this general training, they should also be given familiarisation training on the specific model that they will be working with.
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.
There are courses available for:
Training for 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, envelope management systems, load-movement devices, dual capacity
Training for MEWPS can be tailored to the individual requirements of your business. The MEWP training can cover specific categories of Mobile Elevated Work Platforms (MEWP) such as:
• Static Vertical (1a)
• Static Boom (1b)
• Mobile Vertical (3a)
• Mobile Boom (3b)
• Insulated Aerial Device (IAD)
• Specialist machines (SPECIAL)
Accredited training centres are located across the country and courses can be held at their premises, or on a convenient site with suitable facilities. Promax Access offer a wide range of training courses for working at height. Please call to discuss your particular access platform training requirements.
In 2010, aerial work platform industry professionals published ‘The Statement of Best Practices of General Training and Familiarization for Aerial Work Platform Equipment.’ This document sets out the obligations and requirements of those responsible for delivering, arranging and receiving training in the use of powered access platforms and is essential reading for anyone planning a job at height with powered access platforms.
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 for MEWPS is not only a legal requirement but jobs can be completed more efficiently if everyone involved knows how to use the equipment properly. With professional training dangerous and costly accidents can be avoided.
14 May 2017
Not all jobs that require a spider platform are located outdoors or in open spaces. Some, such as interiors, gardens or courtyards are in very confined spaces. Working at height in unusual spaces pose a number of challenges for
In addition to the usual safety concerns for the workforce, it can be complicated to get the necessary equipment to the work area, let alone set it up and start using it. A spider platform often needs 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 spider platform range has been specially designed to work in areas that are inaccessible to other powered access platforms and to provide maximum functionality, indoors or in tight spaces.
The name comes from the shape of the stabilizer legs which fold up to enable the lift to be used in narrow spaces and to 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 uneven and sloping surfaces.
Spider lifts can be used indoors or outdoors on all terrain but have a number of features which make them particularly useful for jobs indoors or in more delicate areas. These include:
• 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.
• Not only lower overall weight than other types of access platforms but also no reduced functionality.
• Easy to transport as most are road towable.
• Radio control options for use in tight space.
The narrow design and low ground pressure make them flexible and reliable on delicate surfaces, both indoors and outdoors. The spider platform legs can even be set up in different positions on different ground levels meaning the machines can be used in compact spaces where other lifts are unable to work.
Spider lifts are the least disruptive type of powered access platform making them flexible and 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, functionality or causing damage to more delicate surfaces, even in the most unusual spaces.
See our full range of Spider platforms, please see our tracked spider lift access platform page which has all the information you will need.