Did you know falls from height are one of the highest causes of fatal injury in the UK? HSE statistics show that 40 falls from height fatalities out of a total of 135 fatalities, equaling 29.6% of all UK work-related fatalities.
The good news is that fatalities on MEWPs are rare but there are still plenty of risks when it comes to operating powered access platforms. Don’t be complacent and definitely do not take shortcuts! Afterall, MEWPs are heavy pieces of kit with powerful equipment that demand respect. They are certainly not toys.
There are an abundance of vital safety and operator considerations when hiring a scissor lift or cherry picker. From hiring well-maintained MEWPs that work properly to researching which is the most suitable platform for the job. Failure to do so can increase the risk of serious or fatal injuries. After all, operators, managers and businesses have a responsibility to keep staff, sites, and members of the public safe.
By hiring a reliable access platform from a safety-focused powered access provider like Horizon Platforms, you can have peace of mind and assurance that the machines are maintained to a high standard, reducing the risk of accidents, delays and downtime. In this blog, we delve into the common risks related to access platforms and explore crucial strategies to prevent these incidents and ensure the well-being of workers.
Understanding Access Platforms and their Importance
Access platforms encompass a range of equipment, such as scissor lifts, boom lifts, and cherry pickers, designed to elevate workers to perform tasks at heights. They are commonly used in construction, maintenance, and other industries where working at height is necessary. Yet, while these platforms enhance productivity and efficiency, safety should always be the top priority.
MEWPs have revolutionised the way industries approach at-height tasks. HSE documentation lists MEWPs as one of the preferred options for preventing falls while working at height, providing a safer and more efficient alternative to traditional methods like ladders and some types of scaffolding. However, despite their advantages, accidents involving access platforms continue to be a major concern and the potential accidents that can occur serve as a stark reminder of the importance of safety protocols and training when working at height.
Common Working at Height Risks & How to Avoid Them
There’s a long list of risks you face when working at height, and serious accidents can happen. Therefore, by seeking out good providers, using the right machine for the job, which is in good working order, and ensuring you have the correct training in place, you can greatly reduce the risk of accidents and serious injury when working at height.
How to Reduce the Risk of Falling from a MEWP
When carrying out work at a height, there is always the potential risk of a fall, even when working on a platform, whether it’s due to an operator error or an environmental factor. You must also have confidence in the machine being used and that your platform provider is 100% committed to supporting your safety by consistently supplying well-maintained machines in working order. Otherwise, the risk probability significantly increases.
To make sure you’re choosing a reliable provider, you’ll also need to check for any accreditations listed on their website and ensure that they perform all necessary safety checks.
At Horizon Platforms, we spend significant time and resources ensuring we have robust systems and procedures to continually provide a reliable service which is second to none. We undergo annual audits by several external bodies to ensure we maintain the best accreditations and certifications and can boast a triple crown of ISO standards. Also, we are an IPAF Rental+ accredited company that understands our customers’ needs and industries. Underpinning this is eight service-level Horizon Commitments that ensure we deliver the best service and solutions to every customer.
Furthermore, one of the most effective ways to reduce your chances of falling whilst operating a boom lift platform is to use a harness to secure you to the platform. It’s also important that operators, supervisors and management undertake the necessary IPAF training course on the safe use of harnesses on MEWPs so that you’re able to use the equipment properly.
The harness awareness course ensures management knows what type of personal fall protection is required for a MEWP, what inspection and maintenance is required, and how to check on their employees to ensure it is being worn and used correctly.
IPAF worldwide data shows that in the vast majority of cases, operators having accidents have yet to undergo structured training. Therefore taking the IPAF Operator course will ensure you understand the basic use of a harness and lanyard for the MEWP operation. Having trained MEWP operators greatly reduces the risk of an individual falling from the platform.
Choosing the Right MEWP for Avoiding Clashes with the Working Environment
If you’ve not been provided with enough information or support whilst making your choice of access platform, it’s possible that you could end up with a machine that is unsuitable for the work activity or environment you’re working in. Potentially putting people at unnecessary risk.
The benefit of working with a service and safety-focused platform provider, such as Horizon Platforms, is that they will work with you to help you choose the right MEWP for the task and working environment.
For instance, at differing angles and outreach, you’ll need an articulated boom, as the joints in the cherry picker will allow for superior manoeuvrability. Choosing a scissor lift in this scenario could restrict your movement and potentially lead to an accident whilst trying to reach certain areas.
Of course, it is important and a legal requirement to be trained in order to work safely in different environments and on different terrains. Explore the different access platform training courses we have available here at Horizon Platforms should you need to have a refresher, renew your IPAF licence or get an IPAF licence for the first time.
Support and attention to detail from a safety-focused MEWP supplier act as an additional layer of safety for operators and companies. Something that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Navigating Falling Debris on to and from Powered Access
There are two separate issues with ‘falling debris.’
- Items falling onto the machine or platform, e.g. tree branches, demolition, dismantling racking etc.
- Work equipment or tools falling out of the platform to the ground below.
There is the possibility of debris posing a risk to your safety whilst working at height. In some cases, this can be due to the use of the wrong type of access platform in a restricted space and in other cases, it can simply be an issue with the structural integrity of the surroundings.
Not only does debris pose a risk to the operator of the MEWP, but it can also create a hazard for bystanders. Tools and other equipment being used on the platform must also be secured to prevent them from posing a risk to those on the ground. This is why it’s extremely important to carry out a full risk assessment of the environment before you begin work.
What you can do to Avoid Access Platform Accidents
At Horizon Platforms, we’re a safety-focused provider and recommend that when assessing a project to determine the dangers involved whilst working at height, you should always identify what steps you can take to minimise the risks or better still eliminate risks for both the safety of the operator and anyone else in the vicinity.
Here, we’ve outlined a few things you can do to increase safety when working at height.
Use the Correct MEWP for the Job
One of the best ways to avoid taking on unnecessary risk is to evaluate the project so you can outline your requirements fully. Once you’ve done this, you’ll be able to choose a MEWP which has all of the functionality you require. This will ensure that you can safely reach the heights you need to without the need to stretch or lean outside of the platform area.
Ensure Operators Have the Right MEWP Training
It’s important to ensure that those who are in charge of operating the MEWP have the proper training. This is a legal requirement, and if you don’t have an operator’s licence, you should not be allowed to operate any access platform. To ensure that you or your staff can get the correct training, we offer several IPAF training courses.
Our IPAF 3A And 3B Combined Course is perfect for operators looking to obtain their licence to work with different types of MEWPs. This training course, which can be carried out at our training centre or on-site, will ensure that you become qualified in the 3A Mobile Vertical: Scissor lifts, vertical personnel platforms (mobile) and 3B Mobile Boom: Self-propelled booms categories.
Our IPAF site assessment for MEWP selection course guides candidates through the process of determining the optimum MEWP for a given task. Factors covered include height, reach, up-and-over height, the weight of people, required materials & tools, environment, restrictions, set-up, hazards, permits, accessories, delivery, and completion of documentation to justify the selection.
Use Appropriate Safety Equipment
Another way to enhance your safety further when operating access platforms is to use additional access platform safety accessories.
A harness and lanyard are essential when in a boom-type platform – not only for the operator but for all occupants in the platform. These will prevent you from falling off the platform itself. The safety harness is worn by all occupants in a boom type platform and must be clipped onto the dedicated anchor point inside the platform.
Carry out Risk Assessments and Pre-Use Inspections
When a MEWP is supplied to you from Horizon Platforms, we can guarantee it will have had the necessary checks to ensure it is in full working order. We ensure it will have had a pre-delivery inspection (PDI) covering over 40 different safety checks to ensure it is in full working order and has the necessary inspection certificate and instruction manual. However, it’s important that you also check the MEWP to ensure it can be operated by either you or another member of staff and has not been damaged during transportation/delivery to the site.
A risk assessment should also be carried out for the task at hand and the environment you will be working in. This should cover areas such as hazards in the surrounding area, the size of the area you have to work in and protecting any other workers who may be in the vicinity.
The HSE Accident Prevention Advisory Unit and other institutions have shown that human error is a major contributor to 90% of accidents. Hence the MEWP for Managers training course was developed.
Our MEWPs for managers IPAF training course is designed to educate supervisors and managers on what is required to prepare for and safely coordinate various types of powered access platforms or Mobile Elevating Work Platforms (MEWPs) when working at height.
The course covers crucial health and safety procedures, best practices and key steps to take when supervising MEWPs and MEWP operators. Once complete, the candidate will receive the MEWP for managers qualification and an IPAF Certificate of Training.
Hiring MEWPS for Work at Height Safety
If your current access platform provider doesn’t have your back and has not matched up to your service or safety expectations and requirements, we’re here to help. At Horizon Platforms, we take safety extremely seriously and ensure that all of the equipment we supply is well-maintained and safe to use for every hire in order to help reduce the risk of accidents.
If you’d like to learn more about the MEWPs themselves, explore our blog, where we post top tips and need-to-know information.