MOBILE ELEVATED WORKING PLATFORMS (MEWPS) divide into two categories;
- Boom-type Mobile Elevating Work Platforms (cherry pickers), and
- Scissor lifts
The most common causes of death with MEWPs are falls from height and the second most common cause of serious injuries at work. This guidance is aimed at those who use or control the operations of boom type MEWPs, used across a range of industries including construction.
The most common accident causes were:
- Unsuitable ground conditions;
- Critical parts of the MEWP failing or malfunctioning; or
- The MEWP being struck by another vehicle.
Consequently it is critical that these issues are eliminated or properly controlled.
Mobile elevating work platforms can provide excellent safe access to high level work. When using a MEWP make sure that:
- Whoever is operating it is fully trained and competent;
- The work platform is provided with guard rails and toe boards or other suitable barriers;
- It is used on firm and level ground. The ground may have to be prepared in advance;
- Its tyres are properly inflated;
- Any outriggers are extended and chocked as necessary before raising the platform; and
- Everyone knows what to do if the machine fails with the platform in the raised position.
- Operate MEWPs close to overhead cables or other dangerous machinery;
- Allow a knuckle, or elbow, of the arm to protrude into a traffic route when working near vehicles;
- Move the equipment with the platform in the raised position unless the equipment is designed to allow this to be done safely (check the manufacturer’s instructions).
Some MEWPs are described as suitable for ‘rough terrain’. This usually means that they are safe to use on some uneven or undulating ground – but check their limitations in the manufacturer’s handbook before taking them onto unprepared or sloping ground.
Wearing a harness with a fall restraint lanyard attached to the platform can provide extra protection against falls, especially while the platform is in motion.
The selection and use of appropriate personal fall protection equipment used as part of a suitable personal fall protection system. A personal fall protection system is an assembly of individual components. for example, a full body harness and lanyard with or without a shock absorber pack. A variety of equipment is available to prevent a person falling (work restraint) or to save them once they have fallen (fall arrest).
Fall protection should not be relied upon as the only means of control because if the MEWP is pushed over or falls over being attached to it by a fall protection system is unlikely to prevent you from being injured or killed. For this reason, advice on controlling the risk by ensuring safe site, safe plant and safe operator are an essential part of this guidance.
In the case of scissor lifts fall protection is not normally required, unless a person needs to lean over the guardrail. In this instance, the sections of the guidance that relate to a safe plant, safe site and safe operator is relevant to preventing falls from scissors lifts due to overturning incidents.