Access platforms for winter working

For most industries that work at height, winter is the season when the schedule becomes less hectic due to shorter working days and unpredictable weather conditions.

However, powered access platforms are designed to cope with extreme work environments, indoors and outdoors and are the safest way to keep working and making money during winter months, provided your machine is kept in prime working order.

Choosing the right access equipment for a specific job can overcome most issues when supported with a detailed and ongoing risk assessment of existing and potential hazards. Here are a few other things to consider to be winter ready:

Stability

A strong foundation is essential on slippery or sloping ground and outriggers or stabilizer legs on powered access platforms can provide this even on steep gradients. Warning lights on the machine controls indicate when the access equipment is in a stable position and some lifts may require spreader plates under the legs to prevent subsidence.

Daily checks

Supervisors and operatives should carry out a thorough check of the powered access platform before the start of any job. These checks look for visible signs of wear and tear and flag up and immediate problems with the mechanical parts or safety controls. All operatives should be trained to spot potential dangers and know where to report them if necessary.

Before the start of every job the following checks should be made:

  • Inspect component parts of the work platform, extending structures and stabilizing equipment
  • Look for signs of dirt or damage on the machine
  • Ensure controls are operational at ground level and on platform workstations
  • Check all emergency systems and safety devices
  • Check brake functions, tyre pressures, hydraulic systems and lights
  • Examine fluid levels including engine oil, water and lubricant
  • Long term care

Maintenance

Under UK, law powered access platforms must be fully serviced and inspected by a qualified mechanic, every six months if they are lifting people and equipment. This is a full and thorough inspection of all machine parts and working apparatus and is recorded for both legal compliance and as a record for resale.

A full service will encompass all the daily checks plus a more detailed analysis of components and performance including:

  • Lifting, lowering, rotating and extending equipment
  • Safety systems and controls
  • All parts of the work platform/basket
  • Screws, nuts and bolts, bearings, hydraulics, electrics, ropes and chains
  • Power supplies
  • Hydraulics and electrics
  • Brakes, steering and stablisers

Storage

Whether you are leaving access equipment over night on site or taking it to a secure compound make sure it is properly covered where necessary and locked when not in use. This will not only prevent theft or misuse but it will protect the machine against damage caused by rust or exposure.

Winter working does pose some safety challenges but need not be a barrier to using powered access platforms. Take extra care with the safety routine and ensure the access platform is carefully stored and protected from the elements where necessary and you can continue to work safely all year round.