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The Safe Use of Mobile Elevating Work Platforms (MEWP)
It’s essential that before carrying out any work at height you carry out a risk assessment and produce a method statement. These should be communicated to all who are going to carry out the work and people in the vicinity of the work.
Selecting a MEWP and a Supplier
When selecting a MEWP it is advisable to use a reputable powered access equipment supplier so that you receive the most appropriate advice and the most suitable machine. Check that the supplier can carry out a site visit, if necessary, to advise on the best machine for the job in hand. Also ensure that the supplier provides service support, including an out-of-hours service.
You should ensure that your supplier has followed LOLER 1998 legislation (Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations)
The best suppliers of MEWPs for hire will also be able to meet your training needs by being accredited providers of IPAF (International Powered Access Federation) training or CPCS (Construction Plant Competence Scheme) training.
No-one can legally operate a MEWP if they do not have one of the following – an IPAF PAL (Powered Access Licence) card, a CPCS operator’s card, a NPORS (National Plant Operators’ Regulations Scheme) card, or a RTITB (Road Transport Industry Training Board) card.
The most popular and most widely used card is the five-year PAL card. To gain one you have to attend an IPAF operator’s course. Because the courses cover a wide range of machines sizes – for example an IPAF scissor lift course will enable an employee to operate everything from a 6m scissor through to a 34m scissor – there are significant differences in size, weight and the complexity of the machines. It is therefore recommended that employees also receive specific machine familiarisation training before any new MEWP is used.
Under PUWER (Provision and Use of Work Equipment 1998) anyone who supervises or manages work equipment must also receive training to ensure that the employee is working safely at height by attending an IPAF MEWPs for Managers course.
There are many hazards to be considered before using MEWPs, including ground features such as trenches or manhole covers, slab loading limits, wind speed, and overhead structures against which the operator could be trapped. The operator must have sufficient visibility during reversing and people working below a MEWP must be protected from the risk of falling objects. Ensure that the area around the MEWP is barricaded using cones and warning signs.
Unfortunately, safety abuses are still all too common. These include standing on guard rails to gain additional height, getting out of a platform at height to climb onto the work area, tying open entry gates, lowering a scissor lift whilst the deck is still extended, using a machine that is too big for the work area (which leads to the risk of crushing injuries), using machines in high winds, overloading machines with people and materials, and charging an electric machine in a confined space (this process produces potentially explosive hydrogen gas).
Emergency and Rescue Plan
An emergency and rescue plan for MEWP occupants must be drawn up to deal with instances where the machine is unable to be lowered for any reason, such as machine malfunction or platform entanglement. Rescue might also be necessary in the event of illness, injury or risk of exposure.
The plan should identify trained, site-based personnel who would be available to lower the work platform using the machine’s ground controls, emergency power pack or manual bleed down systems. If this is not possible, another MEWP may be used to carry out the rescue, although this should only be done once a site specific risk assessment has been carried out and a specific plan drawn up.
Emergency drills should be completed by all personnel to ensure that all persons know how to lower the machine in the event of an emergency.
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One of the UK's a leading powered access provider. AFI offers a range of Access Platforms and Equipment solutions including rental, purchase, accredited training of IPAF & PASMA, service & maintenance plans.