Highlighting Safety when using MEWPs for Work at Height

Highlighting Safety when using MEWPs for Work at Height

28th June 2017

Here at Safety Fabrications we take the subject of safety very seriously – after all, we’re dedicated to providing the construction industry in the UK with all manner of safe access solutions. In February, we ran a series of articles on work at height rescue comprising of Part One, Part Two and Part Three.  If you require any of your workers to work at height, then you’re bound to be aware of the legal obligations you face as the duty holder or employer and we really can’t stress too strongly just how essential it is to have a well-planned rescue procedure in place in the event that one of your workers falls when carrying out tasks that require them to work at height.

We’ve come across a news story that clearly demonstrates the importance of work at height rescue planning that involves a north east based contractor being fined for dereliction of duty in this respect.  Plymouth Magistrates Court head the case of 57 year old Keith Stevens who was helping to dismantle temporary roofing at Devonport Naval Base using a mobile elevated work platform (MEWP).  Mr. Stevens became trapped between a roof beam and the controls of the MEWP but there was some delay in getting the unfortunate worker down to ground level and he sadly died of a pre-existing heart problem.

When the incident was investigated by the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE), it was discovered that the other employees of the contractor, Pyeroy Ltd, had not received suitable training in the emergency lowering proce4dure of the MEWP and that no practice drills had been carried out.  Furthermore, the work at height had not been properly planned in restricted overhead areas.  The contractor was duly fined £130,000 and ordered to pay costs of more than £14,000.

A HSE inspector stated after the hearing that if the contractor had ensured that the other employees had been properly trained to use the MEWP in an emergency situation, Mr. Stevens would have lowered to the ground more quickly, adding that this case highlights the necessity for duty holders to properly plan all work at height beforehand, including emergency planning and rescue situations. 

Although crushing incidents of this type are widely recognised as a key risk when using MEWPs, manufacturers of the equipment have only recently begun to include a design feature to prevent this type of accident from happening.  Next week we’ll bring you some advice on MEWP use and how to plan for the work and make sure it’s safe so watch this space.  If you’d like to be notified when we publish new articles, then why not follow us on our Facebook page?  If you’re not on Facebook, we have a Twitter profile that you can follow or you may want to engage with us on LinkedIn.  Don’t be shy – social media is all about being social so feel free to comment on our articles, we’d love to hear your views.