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.
24 September 2017
After being given Royal Assent, work has begun on the government’s HS2 rail project across the UK and powered access platforms will be pivotal in both the construction and maintenance of the new line. Contracts worth £6.6 billion have already been placed for the building of the first phase.
The first phase of the government’s HS2 rail project will be from London to Birmingham and operational trains are expected by 2026. Phases 2a and 2b will follow with services from the West Midlands to Crewe due in 2017 and then from Crewe to Manchester by 2033.
Road Rail access platforms are being used for essential jobs at height on the national railways. Jobs which are especially relevant are:
• Repairing and installing signals and posts
• Structural inspections of bridges, viaducts, stations and embankments
• Clearing verges and embankments of vegetation and debris
• Work on power lines
Jobs that overrun on the railways can be expensive. They have a knock on effect on services and commuters so safe, rapid access to the track is vital. Road rail access platforms are specially adapted to run on the road in addition to the rail infrastructure. This provides a flexible solution so jobs can be reached and completed quickly, and also safely, with minimal impact on the surrounding environment.
Having the ability to operate on road and rail tracks does not reduce the speed or functionality of the equipment. It is easy to switch from one operation mode to the other and it saves money as well as time. This is achieved by reducing the need to hire locomotive plant or attempt access through protected or remote areas of countryside.
Newer models are more not only robust but also more efficient than ever before. First supplied to the UK in 2003, the current Basket RR14 EVO/2-400 road rail access platforms supplied by Promax Access are third and fourth rail compliant with more than 30 improved features including
– a 400kg capacity cage;
– easy to use and intuitive control system;
– Unique automatic self-levelling turret -200 cant;
– RIS 1530 issue 5 compliant;
– heavy duty rail gears with automatic disc brakes on all of the rail wheels;
– four wheel drive.
Many locations along the route of the new HS2 high speed rail track are hard to reach. There are limits to the usefulness of trucks and tractors for a number of essential construction and maintenance jobs. A road rail powered access platform is a flexible, cost effective and safe solution that will enable crews to access difficult places and carry out challenging jobs, quickly and safely.
17 September 2017
It’s the time of year when high winds blow leaves and fallen debris around. This causes serious problems in terms of safety and delays for commuters. Keeping vegetation under control is an essential job on the UK’s rail network and access platforms for railways play a vital role throughout summer and autumn.
Fallen leaves, overgrown grass verges, and overhanging branches are a hazard on the railways. They cause signal and track obstructions which will delay services, inconvenience commuters and pose a risk to health and safety.
Many miles of UK rail lines are in hard to reach rural areas. road and rail access platforms have overcome this problem and operate on both road and railway in urban and rural environments. This saves time and money, making maintenance work significantly safer.
Throughout the year, access platforms for railways are used for a variety of essential track clearance and vegetation management jobs including:
• Clearing verges and embankments of vegetation and debris
• Leaf collection from tracks and tracksides
• Cutting back overhanging trees and branches
• Improving visibility of signs and signals which may be obscured
• On and off track weed killing
• Hazardous tree removal
Modern access platforms for railways are safer, stronger, more robust. The flexibility to operate on roads and on railway line means the machines are able to cope with a variety of tasks in a wide range of different locations and environments.
Speed and performance are not limited by the dual functionality of access platforms for railways as they can switch easily between the two operating modes and they have a minimal impact on the countryside and environment.
• 3rd and 4th Rail Compliant
• 4WD to reach areas that are off-road
• Automatic turret levelling
• Large cage capacity for lifting people and equipment
• Intuitive control system with full pictographic ground controls
• Heavy duty rail gear with auto disc brakes on all rail wheels
Many miles of railways track run through remote rural areas of the UK where, during summer and autumn, trees, leaves and vegetation can pose a risk to safety by causing an obstruction or obscuring vital signals and signs. Accessing some areas and keeping on top of the growth can be a challenge, particularly during late summer and autumn.
access platforms for railways offer a fit for purpose and safe solution to clearing and maintaining railway lines to ensuring there are no expensive delays and inconvenience to passengers.
10 September 2017
An outside access platform in wet and windy conditions will require extra precautions to avoid accidents. In these weather conditions the risks of instability, falls and over-tipping are increased and the number of accidents rises as people fail to compensate for the adverse conditions. Even all-terrain and off-road access platforms can fall prey to wet weather problems and potential hazards may not be obvious as conditions can change mid-job.
The violent storms and hurricanes hitting the Caribbean and Florida at the moment are a powerful reminder of how devastating nature can be. Although on the other side of the world, the two month forecast for the UK is for the tail end of three hurricanes to arrive with heavy rain and high winds up to 100mph.
There are two main pieces of legislation that are relevant for considering safety issues in wet weather conditions:
The Work at Height Regulations 2005 – This requires a detailed risk assessment to be carried out at the job location before starting any work at height. The risk assessment should be reviewed at regular points throughout the job.
The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) – Managers and employers are obligated to prevent or control the identified risks. The legislation includes a whole section on over-tipping and considering ground conditions in relation to the requirements of the job.
All staff that operate powered access platforms must be properly trained in their use. This training includes identifying potential hazards and avoiding them and handling rescue situations should the need arise.
This is a primary consideration in wet weather as it could be crucial to the stability and safety of the access equipment. Both the stability of the ground under the weight of the machinery and the possibility for changing conditions, for example on sloping ground, should be considered. Spreader plates may be necessary to stabilise boom lifts and heavy access platforms.
As well as the location of the job, the ground conditions to and from the site may pose a risk in heavy rain. The access route can pose a number of hazards including underground dangers, sloping ground or uneven surfaces.
Sloping ground is a challenging work surface in dry weather and can become dangerous and unstable in the rain as the surface of the ground can wash away on steep hills and gradients.
Overturning accidents on grass verges, and steep bankings beside roads and train lines are more common in wet conditions.
Falls are the most common cause of serious accidents and injuries involving access equipment. In rainy conditions the basket or work platform may be wet along with the surrounding work area. It may be necessary to take extra care and also use additional safety equipment such as a harness.
With heavy rain and gusting winds forecast it is important that UK operatives of powered access platform are prepared and confident to use the equipment in wet conditions.
• Make sure all staff are fully trained and familiarised in the use of specific access equipment
• Risk assessments should be carried out before, during and after the job and recorded
• Check ground conditions at the job location and use spreader plates if necessary
• Access route ground conditions also need to be checked to avoid dangers
• Be prepared for changeable ground and surface conditions in persistent heavy rain
• Use additional safety equipment such as harnesses and high visibility waterproofs
With the UK forecast predicting deluges and powerful gusts over the next few months, it is vital that all those responsible for the safe operation of an outside access platform become their own “weather watchers”. Accuweather provides global forecasts. More locally, The Met Office provides long range forecasts .
3 September 2017
Important considerations For A MEWP Checklist
If you are considering using a powered access platform for the first time, here’s a five point MEWP checklist to help you get started. Although powered access platforms are safe and easy to operate there are still some important things you need to know about safety and the law.
It doesn’t matter if you are using the access equipment for public or private work, the considerations are the same and being prepared will make any task safer, faster and easier to complete. So here it is our 5 point MEWP checklist.
Tick off this MEWP checklist to understand and consider the implications before you rent, buy or operate any powered access platforms:
Under UK law, anyone using access equipment for any purpose must be trained in how to inspect and operate it, and recognising and avoiding any dangers or hazards. They should also be familiar with the specific model of access platform that they are using. It is the responsibility of employers and individual users to make sure they have completed the training to comply with current health and safety legislation. Promax Access can guide you through the maze of Height Safety Training Courses and Legal Obligations.
2. Risk assessment
All operatives need to be aware of potential dangers such as overhead power lines, ground conditions, obstructions and stability issues, so they can avoid any risk to themselves or anyone else around the job site. A detailed record should be kept of the risk assessment including inspections of the equipment and the use of harnesses if necessary. As circumstances can change, the risk assessment should be reviewed throughout the job. More information about Risk Assessments may be found at the Health and Safety Executive website .
3. Choosing equipment
Access platforms are flexible and mobile which makes them suitable for jobs at height in a wide range of locations and environments. Choosing the right equipment is an important consideration and will depend on the requirements of your job:
• Spider lifts have a narrow design, reduced noise and low ground pressure and can be used on more fragile surfaces indoors and outdoors
• Mobile access platforms on a van or truck are ideal for multiples jobs and on or off-site such as street lighting repairs or roofing
• All terrain access platforms are 4WD and can operate on extreme gradients and challenging surfaces
• Road rail access platforms have duel functionality to work effectively on road or rail tracks
Promax Access have been raising the standards in powered access solutions for over 15 years. They can provide help and advice in choosing the right equipment.
4. Ground Conditions
For most outdoor jobs, ground conditions are linked to the weather which is impossible to control. They can vary on different areas of the same site and are changeable – wind, rain, ice and sun can all cause instability – so they need to be monitored throughout the job. Sometimes a geotechnical survey will be required to identify underground hazards such as sewers or services.
Never underestimate the importance of physically checking the on-site ground conditions before deploying any MEWP.
5. Machine maintenance
It’s the law to have access equipment tested and thoroughly examined by a qualified person every six months for machines lifting people and 12 months for those lifting just equipment.
Both new and used access platforms should be fully serviced and maintained to meet current health and safety legislation and ensure jobs are carried out safely and more efficiently.
Without a valid LOLER certificate, you should not use your machine. Promax Access off a free LOLER Reminder service .
Faster, safer, easy to use – there are lots of benefits to choosing powered access platforms over ladders or scaffolding for most elevated jobs but the benefits will only really be gained by ensuring they are properly used. Get properly trained, choose your equipment wisely and be aware of the potential problems that can hold up a job and powered access platforms can save time and money on jobs of all sizes.
Get free advice. Call Promax Access on 01226 7166657 and talk to an expert.
27 August 2017
Vehicle and truck mounted access platforms are ideal for a wide range of jobs on and offsite and are able to move between jobs quickly and safely.
However, there are a few regulations to be aware of before taking MEWPs on the road. Make sure they are
First: road worthy,
Second: licensed and
Third: loaded safely to minimise the risk of over-tipping or subsidence.
Vehicle mounted access equipment falls into two categories for vehicle excise duty and road regulations:
1. Up to 3500 kg Revenue Weight which are classed as light good vehicles
2. Over 3500 kg Revenue Weight which are classed as tower wagons
Light goods access platforms
• They can be driven on a Category B licence which is a standard car licence
• An annual MOT test is required once the powered access platform is over three years old and most vehicle mounted platforms may be too big for a standard testing centre but can be taken to an HGV vehicle testing centre instead
• Vehicles weighing between 300kg and 3500kg need a special class VII MOT test which are only available at HGV test centres and a limited number of standard ones
Tower wagon access platforms
• A category C1 drivers licence is required for platforms sized between 3.5 and 7.5 tonnes. Drivers who passed their car test before 1 January 1997 automatically have this entitlement but anyone who passed after this date needs to take a separate test to drive a vehicle over 3.5 tonnes
• Drivers of tower wagons over 7.5 tonnes must hold a large good vehicle licence
• Truck mounted access platforms are exempt from the Goods Vehicles (Plating and Testing) Regulations 1988 and the Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Regulations 1995, provided they are only used to transport the access platform
• Tower wagons must be roadworthy with a defect reporting system in place that includes records of all maintenance and servicing
SAFETY – Maintaining a safe weight
All mobile access platforms are subject to a Maximum Allowable Mass (MAM) which is the maximum weight that the vehicle that can be used on the road and includes the top weight that it can carry safely.
The MAM can usually be found on the vehicle, such as inside the driver’s door, or in the model operations manual. It is important that anyone using the access equipment is aware of the MAM as over loading the vehicle will have serious implications for stability and may lead to dangerous accidents. MAM is explained in more detail on the Government website.
It is always advisable to makes sure a powered access platform is safe to use and fit for purpose and for vehicle mounted access equipment, this also means making them road legal. Make sure you are aware what type of mobile access platform you are working with and the relevant road regulations and MAM limitations and, when used correctly, they can save time and money on a range of jobs at height by moving safely and swiftly between locations.