Thankfully accidents involving MEWPs have been declining over the last ten years. HSE legislation and IPAF awareness programmes have played an important role but on the front line it is the users of access power equipment who are pivotal in ensuring safety at height and reducing accidents.
For the safe performance of your powered access platform, is vital to ensure the equipment is in the optimum condition before every use. Maintaining and servicing access equipment will prolong its life and is required to meet health and safety regulations.
A pre-start inspection should be carried out every day and all staff should be briefed in what they entail. These checks will confirm that the machinery is safe to operate and identify any potential hazards it may pose before the work at height is carried out.
There are a number of key functions and features on access platforms which should be in full working order before the equipment is used. Even if the access equipment is rented from a reputable firm, the hirer is responsible for the health and safety of the people using it, so it is important to carry out your own checks as well as those done by the supplier.
– Test all lift controls before any people or equipment are raised from the ground. This should include cut out switches and emergency stop mechanisms.
Hydraulic fluid and petrol
– The oil level in the tank should be full when the platform is on a level surface and there should be enough fuel in the tank to complete the job.
– Check the vehicle for any signs of damage or age which might cause it to malfunction. This should include identifying damaged or loose hoses or fittings, rust, corrosion, holes and electrical faults.
– For a mobile access platform, the brakes of the vehicle should be fully functional. The base of a powered access platform needs to be locked into position before the platform is extended or elevated. Check all stabiliser legs and extendable parts are operational before use.
Before you set up a full risk assessment should be carried out at the site of any job to identify any potential hazards such as overhead power lines or underground services, and to check the ground conditions.
As a minimum you should…
• Make sure the ground is strong enough to take the weight of the equipment before you start to lift anyone or anything.
• Clearly mark off your work area to ensure you have a safe area to complete the job.
• Only allow trained operatives to control the access equipment.
• Make sure the powered access platform is fully stabilized before operation.
• Do not exceed the maximum load capacity of the access platform.
Carrying out the relevant checks before you start will ensure safety at height. It is worth checking the equipment thoroughly yourself as part of the overall risk assessment of your job. Not only will this ensure that your equipment is well maintained and fit for purpose for longer but it will also prevent avoidable accidents.