What is a MEWP?

Also known as access or aerial work platforms, MEWP stands for Mobile Elevated Work Platform. To take this definition further, a MEWP is a generic term for a mechanical platform that has been designed to elevate one or more people, allowing workers to complete work at height in a safe and efficient manner. 

There are various MEWP types and groups, with two of the most common being cherry pickers and scissor lifts — you can read more about these classifications below. Each type of platform is available in a range of capacities, sizes and height, with options suitable for a variety of industries and work-at-height applications, from racking to maintenance. Some platforms can be moved manually, while other models are battery or diesel powered.

What is the Difference Between a Scissor Lift, Boom Lift and Cherry Picker and How do they Work?

Scissor lifts and cherry pickers (often referred to as boom lifts) are two of the most common types of platforms and there are large differences in how they work. For example, scissor lifts can only be moved up or down, while cherry pickers provide more flexibility for reaching up and over.

Scissor Lifts

The simplest definition of a scissor lift is a motorised, elevated platform that can be manoeuvred up and down through the movement of its criss-cross or scissor-like mechanism. These visually distinctive MEWPs allow workers to access a guardrail platform which is then raised to the required height.

There are two main types of scissor lift: slab and rough terrain. The former are designed to provide access to narrow spaces, such as aisles or double doors, and usually have non-marking tyres; the latter are typically larger and more powerful, able to tackle uneven ground surfaces at gradients of up to 45%.

Cherry Pickers / Boom Lifts

The most straightforward definition of a cherry picker or boom lift is a motorised crane with an attached work platform or basket. Cherry pickers provide a more extensive range of manoeuvrability, allowing workers to move up and over obstacles in order to complete work-at-height tasks in hard-to-reach places.

There are several types of cherry picker: articulated, telescopic and mounted booms. Articulating booms have a segmented structure composed of hinged sections, meaning they can be angled up and over obstacles. Telescopic booms have a straight, extendable section and tend to offer a higher reach than other types of cherry picker. Mounted booms can be attached to trucks and trailers.

You can read more about boom lifts in our What is the Best Boom Lift? blog.

What Types of MEWPs are in Your Rental Fleet?

Here at Horizon Platforms, we offer a large selection of MEWPs in our nationwide rental fleet, with cherry pickers, scissor lifts, push around platforms and personnel lifts available. Our range includes some of the UK’s most popular access platform manufacturers, from Genie and JLG to Skyjack and Haulotte. 

We also offer an extensive range of platforms for purchase, with a selection of new and used MEWPs available to buy. 

What are Boom Lifts, Cherry Pickers and Scissor Lifts Used For?

Cherry pickers and boom lifts can be used for a wide range of work-at-height applications across a variety of industries. Their manoeuvrability and reach makes these platforms an excellent choice for film and broadcast, construction and building maintenance, and — as their name suggests — picking fruit.  

Scissor lifts are available in a range of sizes and heights, making them suitable for a large range of applications. These platforms can typically be used for tasks that would require a ladder, so they are often chosen for work-at-height applications in warehousing and retail, maintenance and manufacturing, and entertainment.

You can find MEWPs for different industries on our sections and specialisms page

How High can Cherry Pickers, Scissor Lifts and Boom Lifts Go?

Cherry pickers and boom lifts are designed to extend into more difficult-to-reach areas, meaning these platforms can generally reach greater heights than scissor lifts. For example, we stock a 58.56m working height JLG boom lift, while our tallest scissor lift is a PB Lift at 22.5m.

Here at Horizon Platforms, you will find a variety of platform heights available in our rental fleet. For scissor lifts, this ranges from 5m to 22m. While for cherry pickers, you can choose heights of 9m to 58m, with outreach between 3m and 24m. 

I Don't Know Which MEWP(s) I Need. Can You Help?

Depending on the type of work-at-height tasks you need to perform, there may be a particular type of MEWP best suited to the job. If you are unsure which access platform is required, we have created The Platform Finder tool to help you find the right MEWP.

This tool will ask you a series of questions about your work-at-height requirements in order to provide the most suitable MEWP for your project. These will include what height you need to work at, what platform capacity you require, and whether you will be working on even or uneven ground. 

At Horizon Platforms, we know platform selection is crucial to ensure you are able to work safely and efficiently, which is why we welcome you to contact us to discuss your project in more detail. Our advisors are on-hand to provide expert advice and can even arrange a free site survey. 

Platform Hire FAQs

Can I Reserve Access Platforms and How Much Does Hire Cost?

To hire machine(s), you will need to open an account — this is a quick and easy process that takes just two minutes. Next, request a quote online. Simply tell us which machine(s) you would like to hire, the terms you require and where they need to be delivered, to receive an instant quote.

After receiving your quote, you can book to reserve your access platforms and our team will do the rest. Alternatively, you can give us a call and arrange a hire over the phone. No matter which option you choose, we will send email confirmation of your order within 15 minutes.

How Long can I Hire a Platform for?

At Horizon Platforms, we provide MEWP rentals for short and long-term projects. Whether you need work-at-height access platforms for days, weeks, months or even longer, our flexible terms mean you can hire the platforms you need for the length of time that suits your project or business.

Consider our contract-hire options for longer-term requirements. We offer rental durations from 12 to 60 months, with packages available for a range of industries including food manufacturing and hospitals. With platform maintenance and inspection all included in your rental agreement, we offer hassle-free hire at an affordable price. You will also benefit from one point of contact who will get to know you and your needs, as well as 24/7 out-of-hours support.

How Quickly can I Hire a MEWP?

We understand how expensive downtime can be which is why we prioritise speed, offering same and next-day hire options on our core platforms. If time is tight, you can count on us — our commitment to speed means we have been able to deliver core products in as little as four hours.

We are proud to provide high-quality powered access across the UK, all with reliable service and exceptional value for money. Whether from our own MEWP fleet or sourced from our extensive network of partnerships, we work to ensure your platforms arrive as soon as you need them. We have a strong track record in this area with 98% of platforms delivered on time.

Find out more about our service in our commitments blog.

Should I Buy or Rent an Access Platform and What are the Pros and Cons?

Powered access platforms can assist when working at height, providing a safe and efficient means of completing tasks in hard-to-reach places. If you use MEWPs on a regular basis, you may be weighing up the pros and cons of long-term rental versus buying and investing in your own fleet.

There are many benefits to buying access platforms, including owning and having 24/7 access to your own fleet, as well as the ability to claim capital tax allowances on the purchase of work-at-height equipment. However, there are downsides. For example, the purchase of such an expensive asset could impact business cash flow and you will become wholly responsible for maintenance and repair. 

When deciding to rent, the biggest advantages include: lower upfront costs; peace of mind with maintenance and repair the responsibility of the hiring company; and access to a larger variety of access platforms. There can be downsides, such as delays in delivery and limited availability of the machines required. Here at Horizon Platforms, we have delivered platforms in as little as four hours and with our nationwide network of partnerships, we can have access to a wide variety of manufacturers and models.

Read more about the advantages of hiring in our blog: 8 Benefits Of Hiring Powered Access Platforms.

Health and Safety FAQs

What Does Working at Height Mean and What is Classed as Working at Height?

There are many myths surrounding what qualifies as ‘working at height’. However, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) provides the following definition: ‘Work at height means work in any place where, if there were no precautions in place, a person could fall a distance liable to cause personal injury’.

There is no minimum height requirement to classify a task as ‘working at height’. If you are completing tasks above ground level, or in any position where a fall from height may be possible, such as on a fragile roof, this must be considered as working at height and the correct precautions must be taken. 

You can find out more by reading our article: Working at Height: 5 Myths that are Simply Not True.

What Regulations Cover Working at Height?

There are two main regulations for working at height: the Work at Height Regulations 2005 (WAHR) and the Health and Safety at Work Act. The former aims to prevent injury and death caused by falls from height, while the latter outlines the responsibilities of employers to provide a safe working environment for their employees.

WAHR outlines the rules and requirements for working at height. For example, they state that employers must minimise the risk of falling by putting protective measures in place, including (but not limited to) assessing, planning and supervising any work completed at height. This includes the use of access platforms, stating that all users and operators must be competent, understand and be able to action emergency procedures, and know how to use equipment safely.

Additionally, section two of the Health and Safety at Work Act outlines the ways in which employers must ensure the safety of their employees. This includes the provision of appropriate training, carrying out risk assessments, and proper maintenance of plants and equipment.

What is LOLER Testing and What Does it Mean?

LOLER is an acronym that stands for the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998. These regulations outline the requirements of planning and maintenance; they were created to ensure that lifting operations can be completed as safely as possible where lifting equipment is to be used.

LOLER regulations state that all operations must be well-planned before utilising lifting equipment such as MEWPs, and all work must be completed by competent personnel. Additionally, the lifting equipment must be suitable, labelled with the maximum load capacity and inspected at regular intervals — for equipment that is used to lift people, LOLER inspections must be carried out at a frequency of six-month intervals to ensure it remains safe for continued use.

Before using an access platform, you should always check that it has a valid Thorough Examination Report or LOLER certificate. This is compulsory, not only to comply with health and safety legislation, but also to reduce the risk of injuries or falls from height.

Discover why maintenance is crucial is our blog post: Access Platform Maintenance: Why is it so Important?

What is PUWER Testing and What Does it Mean?

PUWER is an acronym that stands for the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. These regulations were designed to limit and prevent the risk of injury or death associated with the use of equipment in the workplace. This includes lifting equipment such as access platforms.

PUWER regulations outline a number of steps that need to be taken in order to minimise risk. This includes ensuring that equipment chosen is not only suitable, but that it remains safe through regular maintenance completed by trained personnel. For PUWER, inspections must be carried out at a frequency of six to 12 months, depending on the type of equipment.

Do I Need to Inspect Work at Height Equipment Before Use?

We prioritise safety at Horizon Platforms, regularly inspecting and examining MEWPs in compliance with health and safety legislation. When we deliver your access platforms, you can be sure that they are safe and ready to use. However, to ensure work-at-height equipment remains safe, it is vital to complete pre-use inspections.

Using lifting equipment on a daily basis can result in wear and tear, making regular inspections a necessity to ensure they remain fit for purpose. These inspections should incorporate functional and visual checks, they must be carried out at regular intervals (such as once per day or at the beginning of each shift), and documented or logged. If any deterioration is found, this must be reported, examined by a competent specialist and rectified before further use.

Are Scissor Lifts, Cherry Pickers and Boom Lifts Safe to Use When Working at Height?

When used correctly and operated by competent individuals, MEWPs can provide a safe and effective means of completing tasks at height. In fact, HSE supports the use of access platforms for the prevention of falls from height, stating in GEIS6 (General Information Sheet No 6) that MEWPs ‘are considered to be work equipment that can prevent a fall.’

MEWPs have been designed to promote safety, allowing workers to complete tasks from a secure and railed platform. However, users must complete sufficient training before using or operating a platform and they must always be used in accordance with manufacturer guidelines. Additionally, managers must understand associated risks and ensure appropriate precautions are taken to promote workplace safety. 

How Can I Minimise the Risk of Working at Height?

When using access platforms for working at height, following health and safety procedures is essential to help further reduce risk of injury and prevent falls. To minimise risk, lifting equipment should always be used correctly, risk assessments need to be completed and there must be a rescue plan in place.

There are a variety of factors that can pose a risk when using access platforms, however these can be identified and minimised through the completion of a thorough risk assessment. When working with MEWPs, common dangers may include uneven ground surfaces and nearby obstacles, the potential for objects falling from the platform, and failure of the platform controls. After identifying potential dangers, preventative measures — such as cordoning around MEWPs, maintaining awareness of potential obstacles, and regularly inspecting all lifting equipment and PPE — must be taken. 

Finally, a MEWP rescue plan is essential to comply with the WAHR and all personnel must be familiar with the plan for all access platforms they operate —  you can find guidance on our blog. Each plan must identify risks for all potential situations (including control failure), outline the actions or procedures to be taken, and detail who is responsible for each response.

Find out more about minimising risk by reading our blog post: 10 Crucial Health & Safety Tips When Working With Access Platforms.

How Do I Familiarise Myself and My Team with a MEWP?

MEWP controls can vary greatly depending on the model and manufacturer, making it crucial for users to familiarise themselves with controls before use. Lack of familiarity could place operators and site personnel at risk of accident, injury or a fall from height, all of which could be avoidable.

All users and any nominated rescue/ground person and supervisors/site managers must familiarise themselves with access platforms. This process should include the manufacturer's user manual, control use and the emergency procedures outlined in the rescue plan — see IPAF’s Know Your Machine page for links to posters and a handy template. 

Is it a Requirement to Wear a Harness in a Scissor Lift, Boom Lift or Cherry Picker?

To comply with the WAHR, risk assessments and protective measures should always be taken when using a MEWP. This includes harnesses which must be worn when working from the platform of a cherry picker or boom lift although harnesses are not required when working at height from a scissor lift.

When using access platforms, employers must ensure that there is collective and personal protective equipment (PPE) in place. While the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992, states that employees must receive adequate training for, and have access to, well-maintained PPE.

These requirements include collective measures such as MEWP platforms fitted with guardrails, as well as ensuring the use of PPE such as harnesses. Prior to working at height, all access equipment and PPE must be inspected to ensure it remains fit for purpose. When completing tasks from an access platform, PPE must be worn correctly throughout, regardless of the height or duration of the task.

Training FAQs

Do you Need Training to Use or Operate a Cherry Picker, Scissor Lift or Boom Lift?

Yes, you need to show evidence of adequate training in order to operate MEWPs. As outlined in the Work at Height 2005 Regulations (WAHR), being competent is a legal requirement for any person involved in working with powered access in the UK. This includes operators as well as managers and supervisors.

Depending on your circumstances, there may be a variety of MEWP training options available. For example, your employer may provide their own scissor lift or cherry picker training as part of your role. However, there are two main training bodies in the UK that deliver internationally-recognised MEWP courses that meet WAHR requirements: IPAF and PASMA. Find out more about these organisations below.

What is IPAF, What Does it Mean and is it a Legal Requirement? 

IPAF is an acronym that stands for The International Powered Access Federation. This international body is most commonly known for its access platform training and although their courses are not a legal requirement in the UK, IPAF training is recognised as best practice around the world. 

Founded in 1983, IPAF has played a key role in the creation of safety legislation and has been working to standardise MEWP controls since 2009. Today there are IPAF members in more than 65 countries and hundreds of accredited training centres worldwide. This includes Horizon Platforms' state-of-the-art training facility in Normanton, where we offer a range of IPAF-accredited courses including training for operators, supervisors and managers.

You can find out more about IPAF training on our blog: What Is IPAF Training & Why Is It Important?

Additionally, IPAF provides a range of free resources including talks, checklists and in-depth guidance. You can view our top picks in our Top IPAF Training Resources blog.

What is PASMA and What Does it Mean?

PASMA is an acronym that stands for the Prefabricated Access Suppliers’ and Manufacturers’ Association. Established in 1974, PASMA works alongside regulators and professional bodies such as the HSE to promote the use, development and maintenance of mobile access towers with the aim of advancing work-at-height safety across the globe.

With a focus on training, PASMA design courses that create competent personnel. These courses are delivered by approved PASMA training members, including the experts at our Horizon Platforms training facilities. Their training is recognised on a global scale, with members that span from the UK to the Middle East and Asia. 

What is the Difference Between IPAF and PASMA?

IPAF and PASMA are not-for-profit organisations working to enhance the safety of working at height. These bodies have been — and continue to be — instrumental in the creation of health and safety legislation, working in unison with other leading organisations and creating industry-leading training programmes that comply with WAHR.

The key difference between IPAF and PASMA is their areas of focus. IPAF works to promote the safe use of powered access (such as cherry pickers and scissor lifts), while PASMA works to promote the safe use of mobile access towers (or scaffolding).

What is a PAL Card or IPAF Licence?

A PAL card or Powered Access Licence is provided to individuals who successfully complete an IPAF course at an accredited training centre. These cards are internationally recognised and demonstrate that an operator has been trained to a competent level, as required by the Work at Height Regulations 2005 (WAHR).

How Can I Renew My IPAF or PASMA Licence?

PAL cards and PASMA licences are valid for five years from the date of issue, with each card displaying an expiry date. This is the date by which an individual must retrain in order to renew their licence and continue working with powered access platforms or mobile access towers.

To renew your IPAF PAL card or PASMA licence, you must take a training course at an accredited training centre. For PAL cards, providing this is completed prior to the expiry date and your log books have been filled in correctly, you can take a shorter renewal course. However, if your card or licence has already expired, you will need to retake the full course. 

How Long Does an IPAF or PASMA Training Course Take?

How long IPAF or PASMA training takes depends on the course you choose. However, here at Horizon Platforms, most of the accredited courses we deliver take one day. This includes a theoretical component that can be completed online and a practical section that is completed under the supervision of a qualified instructor. 

For example, the operator course is one of our most popular options and can be completed in one full day, while some courses — such as our instructor training — have additional requirements and take longer to complete. You can find more information in our IPAF Training FAQs.

How do I Book a Training Course with Horizon and What Courses do You Offer?

From operator and harness use to demonstrator and instructor courses, you can book MEWP training directly through our website. This includes our combined 3a/3b operator course that covers self-propelled boom and vertical platforms, as well as our popular management course designed to ensure individuals are competent when supervising work involving MEWPs.

To find out more, take a look at our individual course pages:

  • Operator Certificate
  • PAL Plus
  • Safety Harness Use & Inspection
  • Loading and Unloading Training
  • Pre-Delivery Inspection
  • Demonstrator Course
  • Instructor Course
  • MEWPs for Managers Course

As an IPAF-accredited training provider, you can book Horizon Platforms’ training courses with confidence. All of our instructors are highly qualified and experienced, so you can leave our facility with the skills required to work competently at height. All you need to do is choose a date that suits you and we will arrange the rest.

Where is Your Depot/Training Facility Located?

Our training facility is located at our Horizon Platforms Super Depot in Normanton, Wakefield, where we are open from 08:30 to 17:30, Monday to Friday. You will find us on Rosie Road off the A659, just over one mile from junction 31 on the M62.

Our training centre is audited on an annual basis and has been accredited by IPAF and PASMA. In fact, we are proud to have a wide range of accreditations and certifications at Horizon Platforms. This includes IPAF Rental+ Gold, a mark of quality that ensures the competency of our trainers and demonstrators, as well as our excellent levels of service, maintenance and customer care

Can You Deliver MEWP Training at My Site?

Depending on your needs, you can choose between attending courses at our facility or arranging for training to be delivered at your own premises. Our demonstrators can deliver all of our IPAF courses at a location that suits you, training your workforce at a time and place that fits with your business schedule.

If you need custom training, we are able to deliver bespoke courses, provide materials in additional languages and support any additional requirements. To enquire about course delivery at your own premises or discuss your bespoke training needs, email our team: [email protected] 

FAQs & Help

Why Should I Hire Access Equipment From Horizon Platforms?

Horizon Platforms is a leading access platform provider, helping businesses work safely at height. We pride ourselves on the quality of our machines and we'll be there whenever you need us, providing outstanding service and reliable delivery or collection times. We’re proud to hold an abundance of industry-standard accreditations, while always demonstrating excellent customer service and extensive knowledge of the access platform industry. 

Where Are Horizon Platforms Based?

Horizon's head office is located at our super-depot in Wakefield. However, our own extensive fleet and nationwide network of trusted partners allows us to deliver MEWPs anywhere in the UK and Ireland.

What Accreditations Does Horizon Platforms Hold?

Here at Horizon Platforms we pride ourselves on our triple crown of ISO standards, Safe Contractor certification and IPAF Rental+ Gold. Hiring from an accredited company like ourselves will give you peace of mind that you are only ever hiring the very best access platforms. Accreditations separate specialists like ourselves from the pack, providing the highest guarantee that you’ll receive excellent standards of service when you work with us. 

What Matters To Horizon Platforms?

At Horizon Platforms we aim to deliver outstanding service and lead the way in the powered access platform rental and training industry. We aim to provide a secure, challenging and very fulfilling environment where our team is encouraged, trained and mentored to perform at the highest of standards, offering individuals the opportunity to flourish and develop their careers. This, in turn, will benefit you as our customer as you’ll have peace of mind that you will always receive high quality MEWPs on time, to high industry standards.

What Vacancies Are Available At Horizon Platforms? 

Looking for a new challenge? We may have a role suitable for you within the access platform industry. We offer an attractive reward and benefits scheme to all our co-workers, including employee ownership, annual tax-free profit share bonus schemes, health cash plan, pension plan, tax-free childcare vouchers and more. We also offer an apprenticeship programme so individuals can gain qualifications and the experience they need to grow within the industry. From jobs in sales, IPAF and PASMA training, health and safety and more, we can help you find your dream job. If you want to work with Horizon Platforms, send us your CV or see all new vacancies here

Why Is Horizon Platforms Employee Owned And What Does That Mean For The Business? 

Horizon Platforms is an employee-owned business as this route allows us to ensure customers continue to receive the highest level of service while we also maintain a passionate, engaged workforce. We now have 72 employee owners, who deliver excellent customer service to all clients. Employee ownership demonstrates to customers that we are committed to our people while also helping us create an environment where people feel pride in their work, take care of each other and are rewarded for their efforts. 

Why Should You Choose A Reliable Access Platform Provider? 

There are many reasons why you should hire from a reputable access platform provider, such as Horizon Platforms, when hiring your MEWPs. We offer 16,000 platforms nationwide, and only offer quality machines from reliable manufacturers. We also provide competitive rental costs for self-drive, operator and driver-hire options so you can get your job up and running as quickly as possible, to fast, reliable delivery and flexible rental terms.

How can you choose a reliable provider?

  • Look out for relevant accreditations and certifications 
  • Make sure they supply high-quality machines from reliable brands
  • Check MEWPs have a full machine service history and LOLER inspections

Here at Horizon Platforms we ensure that hiring a MEWP is quick and hassle-free, as well as ensure all MEWPs in our nationwide fleet are from reputable manufacturers.  

The Platform Finder

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