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Health and Safety Requirements For MEWPS Within The Supermarket Supply Chain

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The demand for mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs) has increased as the way we shop has evolved tremendously in recent years. From maintenance and repair to instore improvements that ensure supermarkets can operate 24/7, access platforms are regularly required. 

With the need to work from a height safely via a cherry picker, scissor lift or any other access platform increasingly growing, there is also an increased need to understand the health and safety requirements contractors need to meet within the supermarket supply chain. In this blog post, we discuss the importance of IPAF training, legal requirements when operating a MEWP and why to consider an access platform rescue plan. 

Looking for more information about MEWPs within the supermarket industry? Read our whitepaper: Time-Critical Retail Projects. Are You Wasting £000s Unnecessarily?

Experienced Operators Are Needed To Control MEWPs Safely

Operators must be 18 years old, carry the right licence and have the correct qualifications to legally operate an access platform for supermarket projects. Within the supermarket supply chain, contractors may have to operate MEWPs within narrow, restricted spaces which are deemed as higher risk areas. Therefore, more experienced operators should be used and in some cases have higher levels of supervision to prevent accidents from occurring. 

If the operator holds a standard vehicle driving licence they can drive cherry pickers and scissor lifts under 3.5 tons. However, any equipment over this weight will require additional training, as IPAF training is vital to ensure trained and competent operators use machines. Plus, any MEWP operator should know that they should never do anything that could lead them to losing control of the access platform’s control panel. 

For example, leaning over the platform or control panel whilst it is in motion, or using a mobile phone when operating a MEWP could increase the risk of accidents occurring. It sounds basic, but you’d be surprised how common incidents like these are, so all trained operators should know these rules like the back of their hand.

Ensure Your Access Platform Operators Have The Correct Training 

When it comes to operating access platforms within the supermarket setting you need to ensure the MEWP operators meet legal requirements and have the correct training. 

Legal training requirements for MEWP operators 

When operating a MEWP, individuals are required by law to be able to demonstrate the completion of appropriate training, according to the Work at Height Regulations 2005, before operating a powered access platform. Within the industry, it is seen as standard to have an IPAF certification, as it enhances an individual’s knowledge and minimises health and safety risks occurring.  

If operators are not trained they may be increasingly liable for any accidents that may occur, and there may also be implications for their employer.

What is IPAF training? 

IPAF training has been developed by the International Powered Access Federation to ensure MEWP operators, including contractors working within supermarkets, are fully qualified and meet legal requirements, so they can safely operate powered access platforms. 

At Horizon Platforms, we offer a range of IPAF training courses and it is important you choose the right one depending on the equipment you are operating. IPAF 3a/3b is a combined course for self-propelled vertical and boom platforms, whereas IPAF 1b covers static boom operation. 

Training courses available have both theoretical and practical elements to enable attendees to correctly and safely operate an access platform. Once individuals have passed their training, they are given a Powered Access Licence (PAL) card, also known as an IPAF card, certificate or licence, to demonstrate they have passed an IPAF training course. 

IPAF certifications are valid for five years, but there is an option to renew them ahead of the expiry date. The renewal test usually lasts around half a day, but to make sure operators and demonstrators are able to take a renewal test, they must have an up-to-date log book with a minimum of 60 entries, with at least 10 logs recorded in the past 12 months.

For more information on IPAF training, read our ultimate guide on how to choose the right IPAF training course

Why Loading and Unloading Training is Important For Supermarket Projects 

When operating a MEWP within the supermarket setting it is extremely important that contractors have completed training for loading and unloading, as well as qualifications to operate an access platform, to ensure no accidents or injuries occur when removing and loading an access platform on and off a vehicle. 

Within a supermarket setting, relevant loading and unloading training is extremely important so operators can ensure no risk is put on employees and members of the public. From a supermarket’s perspective, any kind of issue that involves members of the public could be a huge problem from both a monetary and reputational point of view.

When it comes to unloading and loading a scissor lift or cherry picker, not all supermarket stores will have a private loading bay, so it is vital that contractors work with access platform providers that have comprehensive loading and unloading knowledge and training. 

Consider Your Access Platform Rescue Plan 

When using a MEWP it’s a legal requirement to have a rescue plan in place. Having a detailed access platform rescue plan is paramount for work at height so that all operators are kept safe in potentially dangerous situations. 

If for any reason the service engineer is unavailable or a quick fix cannot be found, the site manager may need to authorise platform to platform access. In this event, they will need processes and a MEWP rescue plan in place to ensure this is carried out safely.

Every supermarket project will have its own considerations, with different requirements for each site. For more information on the most suitable MEWPs for various industries, training advice and health and safety tips, make sure to check out the Horizon Platforms blog