Wet winter weather can cause unstable ground conditions and powered access platform stability can become an issue. All you need is a solid foundation to operate safely. Powered access platform stability is necessary to prevent the access platform from overtipping which can lead to entrapment and falls – two of the main causes of serious accidents when working at height. Powered access platform stability can be achieved using a range of tools such as built-in safety mechanisms, careful planning and additional ground protection measures.
Ground conditions have a big impact on the stability of access platforms and 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.
On soft ground the machine can sink under its own weight the risk assessment should continually monitor the capacity of the ground to bear the lifting weight and any unseen hazards such as underground services such as sewers, drains, manholes, gas and water mains. Rain, ice and even sun can quickly change ground conditions and cause instability.
Spider access platforms use outriggers (stabilizer legs) to balance and secure the machine on different levels of a hill, verge or slope and have warning lights on the control panel to indicate when it is not in a solid position.
Spreader plates will be required under the outrigger legs of a Spider boom lift as the weight of the machine causes high pressure at the point where the legs meet the ground, increasing the risk of sinking.
Every make and model of powered access platform has a maximum weight capacity which includes the total weight of lifting people, equipment and tools. Overloading can be very dangerous especially on a slope as it could cause the machine to slide or overturn. The maximum weight for a specific machine can be found in the operator manual and should never be exceeded
Spreader plates reduce the heavy loads and pressure at the point of contact between a stabilizer leg and the ground, by spreading the load through a wider area.
Selecting the right size and type of spreader plate for specific locations and access equipment is important. Spreader plates should be big enough, stiff enough and strong enough to cope with the pressure and weight demands.
Powered access platforms are designed to operate on different surfaces but, in inclement conditions, this requires flexibility and regular monitoring of ground conditions. Choose the right type of platform for the job and take time to stabilize the machine in the working environment and the access equipment will do a safe job on most types of ground surface.