Horizon Platforms Blog

Accidents That Can Occur if MEWP Operators Aren’t Properly Trained

When it comes to operating MEWPs, ensuring operators are fully trained and competent is paramount to carry out work-from-height tasks safely. Operating a MEWP without proper training and licensing can be extremely dangerous. Without a thorough understanding of correct MEWP safety precautions, you, or others, could fall prey to several potentially life-threatening MEWP accidents. HSE states “The most significant MEWP dangers arise from operation and use of the machine…The law says that these hazards must be properly controlled.”

In this blog, we’ll cover some of the potentially serious consequences of operating a MEWP without adequate training as well as share the training courses required to ensure the safe and compliant operation of powered access platforms.

The Risks of Operating a MEWP Without Training

With 759 MEWP incidents logged by IPAF globally in 2022, the importance of adequate training when handling these machines is clear. If untrained, the likelihood of unfortunate incidents increases dramatically. 

This can include:

  • Entrapment (becoming trapped between a MEWP and another object)
  • MEWP overturn
  • MEWP collision
  • Falling from height (this can lead to suspension trauma if wearing a harness) 

Failure to Identify MEWP Hazards 

When you enrol on one of Horizon Platforms’  IPAF accredited training courses, we’ll cover all potential hazards that a MEWP operator might encounter. This allows operators to be aware of potential hazards and, therefore, identify them before commencing a project in order to minimise risk. 

For those overseeing MEWP work, our helpful MEWPs for Managers course provides essential training where you can gain the vital skills required to properly conduct a MEWP risk assessment, ensuring that all potential dangers can be mitigated by identifying and eliminating them. 

Throughout our IPAF Training Courses we also cover how to correctly check your MEWP for faults and damages. This is vital as, in accordance with LOLER (Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations) 1998, all MEWPs must undergo a thorough  6-month thorough examination to ensure they are in safe working condition. The six monthly thorough examinations are undertaken by a competent and trained engineer on behalf of the rental company. The MEWP user is responsible for making sure the examination period has not expired when using the machine.

Also pre-use checks should occur before operating machines and a robust risk assessment should factor in MEWP familiarisation and checking various aspects to make sure there are no significant issues or risks posed by the machine or job site. 

Without appropriate powered access training, faults and hazards can easily be overlooked, which significantly increases the chance of accidents, injuries or worse.

Pre-empting Risk And Avoiding An Ineffective Response to MEWP Accidents

Another significant benefit of IPAF training is that it advises operators and managers on how to pre-empt and, therefore respond to MEWP accidents to minimise the severity of the consequences. Advice would include creating adequate risk assessments and rescue plans before using work at height equipment, for example. 

Without proper MEWP training, operators will not know how to respond correctly to emergency situations, which can lead to the consequences of MEWP accidents becoming far more severe. 

Legal Consequences of Operating a MEWP without Training

On top of the dangers associated with operating a MEWP without training, HSE states that any person operating a MEWP should have attended a recognised operator training course and hold a valid operator licence.

Employers are legally bound to ensure that their MEWP operators are fully trained. The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 states that employees of any business must be properly trained to perform tasks, while the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 states that employees must be authorised to use equipment and all necessary training to operate said equipment must be provided. 

For businesses, hefty fines and legal fees could result from untrained MEWP operators and drastic damage to your company name.  As our training manager Ben Hughes says:

“It is essential that operators are trained to a competent standard for the safety of everyone concerned. If they aren’t adequately trained, with evidence to back it up, proving that in a court of law or a tribunal would be extremely difficult and could result in a large fine or jail time, or both!”

However, if all MEWP operators are properly trained, follow company and site rules and regulations and adhere to health and safety laws, businesses and individuals are better protected. However, it is important to remember that training does not remove all faults, particularly if negligence or complacency is proven.

What Other Safety Precautions Should be Considered When Operating a MEWP?

Undergoing proper training is a vital contribution for the safe operation of a MEWP, but there are also several other precautions to take, which are covered in training but important to highlight to help reduce risks as much as possible:

  • Thorough risk-assessment checks before undertaking MEWP work
  • Wearing the correct  personal protective equipment (PPE)  
  • Segregation from other machinery, vehicles and pedestrians
  • Pre-use inspections of powered access
  • Considering weather conditions, such as snow and ice, thunder and lightning and wind speed

For further advice on the necessary precautions for MEWP operation, see our blog on Work From Height: Health and Safety rules

What Training Courses are Available That Can Help MEWP Operators Reduce Accidents and Risks

At Horizon Platforms, we offer a wide range of training courses for your needs.

IPAF Operator Course

First and foremost, completing an IPAF Operator Course is essential before working at height on a MEWP, as it teaches candidates the  safe and proper use of powered access platforms.

Depending on the type of MEWP you intend to work with, there are different IPAF Operator Courses available, including:

IPAF Demonstrator Course

The IPAF Demonstrator Training Course instructs candidates on how to properly demonstrate MEWP operation to others. 

MEWPs for Managers

Our MEWPs for Managers Course educates supervisors and managers on how to prepare for and coordinate MEWP work. 

IPAF Instructor Course

Our IPAF Instructor Course allows you to lead IPAF-accredited training yourself. Bear in mind, however, that you are only eligible for this training if you meet certain criteria. See our IPAF Instructor course page for more details. 

IPAF Harness Course

This Three Module Harness Course covers harness awareness, harness use and harness safety inspection. This is a vital piece of Personal Fall Protection Equipment (PFPE)  to be trained in, particularly when using a cherry picker.

IPAF Pal Plus

IPAF Pal Plus offers an additional category-specific training on top of your IPAF Operator course for higher-risk or more challenging work-at-height environments. 

IPAF Pre-Delivery Inspection Course

Our Pre-Delivery Inspection Course will educate you on how to properly inspect a MEWP before sending it to a new site. Following this in-person course you will have an IPAF INSP Licence. 

Load and Unload Course

With the IPAF Load and Unload Training Programme, we’ll instruct you on the correct way to safely load, unload and secure plant machinery. This is a full-day training course and includes both a practical and written theory exam. 

Why Train with Horizon Platforms?

Horizon Platforms is a leading provider of official IPAF training, as shown by our impressive 96% pass rate. When training with us you can attend our Wakefield training centre or one of our UK-wide partner training centres if more convenient. We can even send one of our highly qualified instructors to conduct MEWP training on your work site. 

IPAF training is the most widely recognised MEWP training in the UK and worldwide. Horizon Platforms alone has trained over 20,000 delegates during the company’s history. 

For further information about our training courses, head to our MEWP training FAQs or contact us , and one of our professional advisors will be happy to assist you. Alternatively, book your IPAF Training Course with Horizon Platforms here!