Loading and unloading powered access platforms

On site, the loading and unloading of powered access platforms at a work location can be a dangerous activity for drivers and operatives, even though they are still the safest way of completing temporary work at height.

According to data shared with the International Powered Access Federation (IPAF), around 1 million powered access platforms are moved around the UK by road every year, with equipment transported to and from a wide range of locations in urban and rural environments.

An error made while unloading or loading heavy access equipment can have serious consequences and could lead to trapping or crushing incidents that may cause injuries or fatalities. More than a third of all unloading and loading accidents involve delivery drivers though engineers, operatives and individuals purchasing or renting access equipment are also affected.

Since 2012, members of the International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) have been volunteering data on these type of accidents which is being used to improve safety and highlight some of the main issues.

The data has shown some interesting trends including the four main causes of accidents:
Foot run over –  Keep a safe distance when driving the access equipment with the upper control box detached and know and watch where the machine is going.
Trapped between machines – Standing between machines could lead to serious injury or even death if the machine is moved the wrong way.
Ramp falls-  Take your time when driving on or off a ramp and never drive on or off a ramp at an angle. Slips and trips can lead to an accident.
Catapulting– Loading and unloading of booms also presents significant risk of ejection so wear a harness with a short lanyard and fasten on at all times.

Accident prevention

Though the data highlights the dangers which can occur when loading and unloading, many of them are avoidable if you follow a few basic safety rules:

– Carry out a full and detailed risk assessment for every job which is fully recorded and reviewed regularly
– Make sure there is sufficient access on site for loading, unloading and moving around the work location
– All staff and operatives should be trained to use access platforms, familiarised with the specific make and model and aware of the safety procedures

The increasing use of access platforms by industries that work at height has had a significant impact in the reduction of workplace accidents and training. Planning and attention to detail are the key to reducing the margin for error and the avoidable risks for drivers and operatives.