Five ways to prevent access platform falls

Powered access platforms are safer to use than ever for most jobs at height but accidents can still happen and the responsibility for preventing falls rests with employers, supervisors and operatives.
Falls from height are the number one cause of workplace accidents in the UK which result in serious industry or death. Most of the risks are identified at the planning stage through a detailed risk assessment.

However, even with the most careful planning there are some circumstances which cannot be planned for such as changeable weather or operative error.  Falls not only put the lives of operatives and people in the work area at risk, but also the knock on effects can include time delays, penalty charges, higher insurance premiums, legal fees and compensation payments and lasting damage to the corporate reputation.

Fortunately most accidents are preventable so here are five ways to safeguard against falls from access equipment:

Training
All powered access platform operatives must be trained by law in their use and familiarised with the specific make and model being used for a job. Accredited courses combine classroom theory and hands-on training with a written theory and practical test. Courses cover all types of powered access platforms including mobile, static and specialist vehicles.

Equipment selection
Choosing the right type of powered access platform for a specific job will reduce the risk of accidents. Different makes and models have specific features to suit a range of tasks at height in different locations. Things to consider include  the access to the site and whether there is specific space for safe movement. A confined or open workspace may require a  spider lift. Obstructions at height and ground level could use a boom lift access platform with height and outreach

Personal Fall Protection
Personal fall protection provides an extra safety boost for powered access platform operatives.  For most jobs at height, the working platform is a safe and stable base and the guardrail is the primary form of fall protection but additional measures, such as a fall restraint or fall arrest system should be considered.
Fall protection systems are fastened to a solid anchorage point, preventing the worker from hitting the ground or falling further than a few feet, and can be adjusted to meet the demands of a specific job.

Maintenance
Powered access platforms should be kept in premium working condition. Maintenance checks should be carried out before the start of each job and a thorough examination (LOLER) is needed every six months by a qualified engineer.

Stability
Powered access platforms are designed to stabilise and establish a strong base on most gradients and ground conditions. Fragile or soft surfaces may require a tracked access platform or spreader plates to reduce pressure. Never exceed the weight of the machine and carry out a full assessment of ground conditions. Take note of the weather as wind speed at ground level can increase as much as 50% at an elevation of 20 metres