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Mobile Elevating Work Platforms (MEWPs): Managing Safe Practice

27th June 2017

Working at height poses many potential risks if safe practice is not demonstrated. 
Individuals who have any management or supervisory responsibility for MEWPs must check that all employees using the machines are sufficiently trained and competent in using them and be aware of any potential risks and hazards that could occur. 

Mentor are the UK's independent leading provider of operator training on access equipment, resulting in a need for safety guidance tips to help eliminate the risk of danger and up-keep a high standard of training. 

There are several key practices that mentor consider to help reduce hazards around MEWPs: 

Falling
With many of the mobile platforms being used today such as boom types MEWPs reaching over 40 metres in height when in use, it is important that control measures are put in place to prevent any falls from the equipment; the manager or supervisor on site should carry out a risk assessment that is specific to the type of MEWP being used. 

It is vital for the safety of the individual that a safety harness is worn when working on the equipment along with an adjustable lanyard in order to provide restraint. The lanyard should be as short as possible to eliminate any access movement that could avert a fall. 

A lot of workplace falls are caused by overstretching and overreaching in machinery at height so it is important for the operators to reposition the MEWP if they cannot reach or find another alternative way to complete the task that is safer for the operator. 

Surroundings 
The platform in question should be used on a level and stable ground that is strong enough to withstand the amount of weight applied. The site should be assessed before the platform has been brought to site to check any ground damages that could be detrimental to the safety of the instructors such as potholes, manholes or any un-even surfaces. 

It is also important to make sure that the access equipment being used has been stored away from any direct sunlight and is not too hot to use. Alternatively, it is important that during the colder months, the equipment has been stored in a dry area and is not icy underfoot. 

Nearby hazards should also be assessed to ensure that the MEWP is not operating too close to other machinery or is working under any overhanging cables that could be a potential danger to the instructor. 

Weather Conditions 
During the peak sun hours of the day, it is advised that employees working at height outside keep hydrated by drinking plenty of water, wear sun cream and keep it topped up throughout the day, and wear appropriate equipment such as hard hats, glasses and protective clothing to minimise direct exposure to sunglight. 

Likewise, high winds can move platforms and make them unstable to use; it is important for the operator using the MEWP to use an anemometer to assess the wind speed and make sure it is within the correct limit to work safely. Storms, snowfalls and extreme weather conditions can damage equipment, so operators must make sure to assess the platform before and after use and make sure there is no permanent damage.

The use of access platforms outside should be calculated in line with the current weather conditions to help maintain a safe working environment. 

Entrapment
Entrapment is a serious hazard that can be caused through the platform and an adjacent obstruction such as a wall, roof or beam crushing an individual due to poor use of the machinery or risks not being assessed correctly before use. There is now a large range of guarding devices available to purchase on the market to accompany access platforms such as protective cages and alarmed pressure bars to minimise the risk of entrapment accidents happening. 
It is important that a well- trained instructor is familiar with these additional equipment features and is competent in using them with the access platform. 

Mentor are encouraging all individuals using MEWPs to follow these key guidance practices to help maintain a safe working envionment and minimise the risk to health. 

For further guidance, including training on a range of Mobile Elevated Work Platforms, please contact Mentor on 01246 386900 . 


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