Horizon Platforms Blog

Handling Materials When Working With MEWPS

If you use MEWPs while working at height, chances are you’ll be loading and unloading materials regularly. But how can you make sure you’re handling materials safely when working with scissor lifts or boom lifts

In this blog, we’ll share the best ways to safely handle materials when working with MEWPs. 

  1. Know The Weight And Dimensions Of Your Materials

One of the first steps when it comes to any installation job is choosing your MEWP. In order to do that, you need to know the weight and dimensions of your materials. Different MEWPs have different lift capacities, so it’s important to consider which individual cherry picker or scissor lift will be most suitable for each job. Remember that people and tools contribute to the safe working load of your MEWP, in addition to any materials you need to lift.

When choosing your MEWP, you should also take into consideration the limitations and restrictions of the site, such as potential access issues.

Use Horizon’s Platform Finder to help discover which MEWP is most suitable for your installation. 

  1. Understand How To Safely Load And Unload Your MEWP

The loading and unloading of MEWPs can be a high-risk activity without the correct knowledge and training. IPAF accident statistics show that most MEWP delivery accidents happen during loading or unloading, so it’s vital to be vigilant and aware of the risks. 

Only trained, competent professionals should be responsible for loading and unloading MEWPs. A competent person is someone who has conducted the relevant training and is completely aware of the potential risks. 

It’s recommended to undertake Load & Unload Training to ensure anyone responsible for these tasks is aware of the relevant health and safety legislations, as well as the best ways to prevent accidents from occuring and control measures that must be in place to minimise risks. 

Here are some quick-fire tips as a starting point:

  • Ensure a risk assessment has taken place and relevant control measures have been implemented. 
  • Where at all possible, avoid loading or unloading on a public highway – this will limit risks to both employees and members of the public. Instead, there should be a dedicated, secure drop off and collection area that is clear of obstructions to minimise risk to staff and property.
  • Highly visible PPE should be worn throughout the process. The risk assessment should have identified which PPE is required to complete the load / unload task safely. 
  • Any ramps should be secured properly and the gradient should be compliant with the manufacturer’s specifications. 
  1. Arrange a Dedicated Storage Area for Machines

It is recommended to have a secure area to store MEWPs – particularly if you have hired a MEWP on either short-term or long-term project hire. This is to prevent unauthorised usage of the machines, potentially resulting in tampering and unexpected machine behaviour. 

You should always pay close attention to security – not just how machines are stored but also how they are secured more generally. This means securing access control, keypads and any other relevant equipment. 

  1. Ensure Gates Can Be Closed Once Loaded

So you’ve loaded up your MEWP and you’re ready to go – now it’s time for your final check. 

To prevent risk of a fall, it is vital that the MEWP gates are shut when the machine is elevated. However, gates can be prevented from closing due to components or other bulky materials being stored on the platform. While this is understandably frustrating, it’s imperative that the MEWP gates are fully closed before continuing operation. 

In some cases, operators have been known to fasten gates open for easy access. This should not be permitted. It’s extremely unsafe for MEWP gates to be left open during operation, as it could increase the risk of falling from height. 

  1. Safe Alternatives to Guardrails Support Loads

Only ever place loads on the floor of the MEWP platform. Guardrails are not designed to support loads so, even if you think you might be able to get away with resting a load on the guardrail – don’t. 

There are trestles or specific material handling attachments to assist with this issue, ensuring you never have to resort to unsafe loading. We always recommend working with a reputable MEWP supplier – such as ourselves – who can provide safe solutions and appropriate advice. 

It’s important that the likelihood of falls are minimised when your MEWP is ready and loaded. Occupants should not be able to become trapped, and access to drive controls should always be unimpeded. For more advice on finding the right powered access platform for your installation or additional information on all things MEWPs, visit the Horizon Platforms blogs.