If you’re looking for a safe and efficient way to get work done at height, you should consider using mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs). MEWPs are perfect for many applications, including construction, maintenance, and more. This blog post will discuss how to use MEWPs safely and effectively. We’ll also provide tips on choosing the right platform for your needs.
What is a MEWP?
A MEWP is a mobile machine. It is used to move persons to work positions where they are carrying out work from the work platform, with the intention that persons are getting on and off the work platform only at access positions at ground level or on the chassis. It consists at a minimum of a work platform with controls, an extending structure, and a chassis.
Mobile Elevating Work Platforms (MEWPs) are designed to safely raise people and equipment to work positions where they can carry out maintenance, construction, or cleaning tasks. MEWPs come in various shapes and sizes, but all consist of a work platform with controls, an extending structure, and a chassis.
Risk Assessment Of MEWP
Before carrying out any work at a height, a comprehensive site-specific risk assessment should be carried
out by a competent person. This should clearly identify all risks involved when using the MEWP and the
measures needed to eliminate or control those risks. Particular attention should be given to planning
travel to and from the work area, accessing the work area, lighting (to aid good visibility), and carrying out
the work task at a height. Ensure the risk assessment is communicated effectively to all relevant persons
and, where necessary, it should be reviewed periodically.
Based on the risk assessment, it is important to adopt a safe work system to perform
tasks to ensure the work is done safely. The safe work system, including the rescue plan, should be
communicated effectively to all workers involved and within the vicinity of the work. All managers and
supervisors should be familiar with all aspects of the system. They should also review and revise the
system as work progresses and instruct staff accordingly. The rescue plan should be practiced as part of
the review process.
Mobile Elevating Work Platform Types
Mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs) come in various shapes and sizes to suit different needs. The three main types are:
- Scissor lifts
- Boom lifts
- Vertical mast lifts
Scissor lifts are the most common type of MEWP and are perfect for indoor or outdoor use on level surfaces. Boom lifts are ideal for outdoor use and provide greater reach than scissor lifts, while vertical mast lifts are perfect for indoor use in tight spaces.
When choosing a mobile elevating work platform, it’s important to consider the specific needs of your project. With so many different types of MEWPs available, one is sure to be perfect for the job.
Mobile Elevating Work Platforms (MEWPs) Hazards
There are a variety of potential hazards associated with the use of Mobile Elevating Work Platforms (MEWPs). Here are ten of the most common:
- Falls from height remain the biggest cause of fatalities and serious injuries in the construction industry. MEWPs can give workers a false sense of security, leading them to take unnecessary risks.
- Inadequate training is a major cause of accidents involving MEWPs. Operators should be properly trained in the use of the equipment and should understand all the associated risks.
- Poorly maintained equipment can be dangerous and is one of the leading causes of accidents involving MEWPs. It is important to ensure that all equipment is regularly serviced and inspected.
- Faulty or damaged equipment can be extremely dangerous. It is important to ensure that all equipment is properly maintained and repaired as soon as any problems are identified.
- Weather conditions can have a major impact on the safety of MEWP operations. High winds, rain, snow and ice can all make conditions more hazardous.
- Working at night can be more dangerous than working during the day due to the reduced visibility. It is important to take extra care when working at night and to use appropriate lighting.
- Operating a MEWP near live electrical cables is extremely dangerous and should be avoided at all times.
- Collision with overhead obstacles is a common cause of accidents involving MEWPs. It is important to be aware of your surroundings and to avoid any potential hazards.
- Overloading a MEWP can lead to instability and potentially serious accidents. It is important to ensure that the equipment is used within its safe working load limit.
Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and safety procedures if you are using a MEWP or any other type of powered access equipment. If you are in any doubt about the safe use of the equipment, seek expert advice.
Mobile Elevating Work Platforms (MEWPs) Control Measures
MEWPs are suitable for high-level work such as changing light bulbs in a warehouse. The following factors must be considered when using a MEWP:
- It should be maintained regularly, have a current Certificate of Thorough Inspection within the last six months, and be safe to use. Procedures should be in place in the event of machine failure.
- Trained and competent persons must only operate the MEWP.
- It must never be moved in the elevated position.
- It must be operated on level and stable ground, considering the stability and loading of floors.
- The tires must be properly inflated and the wheels immobilized.
- Outriggers should be fully extended and locked in position.
- Due care must be exercised with overhead power supplies, obstructions, and adverse weather conditions.
- Warning signs should be displayed and barriers erected to avoid collisions.
- Drivers of MEWPs must be instructed in emergency procedures, mainly to cover instances of power failure.
- All workers on MEWPs should wear safety harnesses.
Workers using mobile elevating work platforms have been injured by falling from the platform due to a lack of handrails or inadvertent movement of the equipment because the brakes had not been applied before raising the platform. Injuries have also resulted from the mechanical failure of the lifting mechanism and workers becoming trapped in the scissor mechanism.
When working on a MEWP, there is a danger that the operator may become trapped against an overhead or adjacent object, preventing him/her from releasing the controls. Accidents have also been caused when a MEWP is reversed into areas with poor pedestrian segregation and the driver has limited visibility. During any maneuvering operation, a dedicated banksman should be used.
There is evidence of many severe and fatal accidents from entrapment accidents between guard rails on MEWPs and adjacent obstructions. There have been several serious accidents caused by workers becoming trapped by overhead obstructions while the MEWP was in motion. These accidents often occur during maintenance operations. Risk assessments must be undertaken, and safe work systems developed for such work.
The Strategic Forum for Construction Plant Safety Group has published guidance on best practices when using MEWPs in confined overhead spaces. The guidance covers hazards, risk assessment, controls, and managers’ responsibilities.
If a MEWP is to be used, the HSE suggests that the following questions should be considered:
- Height – How high is the job from the ground?
- Application – Do you have the appropriate MEWP for the job? (If you’re not sure, check with the hirer or manufacturer)
- Conditions – What are the ground conditions like? Is there a risk of the MEWP becoming unstable or overturning?
- Operators – Are the people using the MEWP trained, competent, and fit to do so?
- Obstructions – Could the MEWP be caught on any protruding features or overhead hazards, such as steelwork, tree branches, or power lines?
- Traffic – Is there passing traffic, and, if so, what do you need to do to prevent collisions?
- Restraint – Do you need to use either a work restraint (to prevent people from climbing out of the MEWP) or a fall arrest system (which will stop a person from hitting the ground if they fall out)? Allowing people to climb out of the basket is not normally recommended – Do you need to do this as part of the job?
- Checks – Has the MEWP been examined, inspected, and maintained as required by the manufacturer’s instructions, and have daily checks been carried out?
MEWPs should be regularly maintained, in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations, and
pre-use checks carried out to ensure the MEWP controls are functioning correctly. Ensure a constant check is in place to ensure that MEWPs are in good working order at all times.
A documented record of pre-use inspection checks (which can be further divided into visual checks and
function checks), regular inspections (GA2, GA3 Forms or alternatives), and service records should be in
Operators should isolate, tag, and report any defects or problems with the equipment, and these should
be dealt with. The MEWP should be taken out of service immediately if the problem or defect is critical.
Safety is paramount.
MEWPs and any material handling device used with them must be thoroughly examined at least every six
months by a competent person or more frequently if required. Proof of a current, thorough examination
(GA1 or alternative equivalent e.g. insurance engineer surveyor report), or copy of it should be kept on
the machine and also in the case of a construction site on file in the site office to demonstrate that the
equipment is in good working order and safe to use.
While there is always some inherent risk with using any type of machinery, following the proper safety precautions can minimize that risk. Make sure you are familiar with the operation of your mobile elevated work platform and take the time to properly train your team on how to safely use it. Review these safety tips before each use, and be sure to practice safe lifting techniques when moving materials around. With a little caution and common sense, you can enjoy the benefits of using a mobile elevated work platform without putting yourself or your team in danger.