Making Sure a MEWP is Safe for Work at Height

Making Sure a MEWP is Safe for Work at Height

06th July 2017

Last week, in the wake of reports that Plymouth Magistrates’ Court handed out a hefty fine to a company who were negligent in their duties, leading to the death of an employee who was crushed between a mobile elevated work platform (MEWP) and a roof beam, we highlighted the importance of safety when using these machines.  We also promised that this week we would bring you some advice on the use of MEWPs and how to plan for the work, so here we go.

While the use of MEWPs for temporary work at height has been a major factor in reducing falls from height, there are currently several fatal and serious accidents under investigation where operators have become trapped between the guardrails and other equipment on the platform and adjacent obstructions.  The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) considers this such a serious issue that they have issued new guidance to cover this aspect of MEWP use, especially with MEWP use on the increase here in the UK.

Anybody engaged in the supply or use of MEWPs should be familiar with the guidance and act on the recommendations it contains.  Key areas for detailed attention include:

·         Effective work planning

·         Training of managers and operators which should include training on the specific machine to be used

·         Selection of equipment for the specific task and environment

·         Preparation and practise of detailed procedures that should be followed if somebody becomes trapped and needs to be swiftly rescued to minimise harm

The guidance on inspection, maintenance and examination process for MEWPs contains different sections aimed at different duty holders with specific responsibilities throughout the whole cycle of the working life of a MEWP.  At certain times during that cycle, duty holders (as listed below) will have some degree of responsibility that may require them to interact and collaborate with other duty holders:

·         Manufacturer, distributor or dealer

·         Owner and/or MEWP hire company

·         User – this is the person or organisations planning and managing the use of the MEWP

·         Operator – this is the person using the MEWP controls

·         Thorough examination organisation

·         Service, maintenance and/or repair organisation

·         Managers, supervisors, planners and other people responsible for MEWP selection and use.

The three elements that ensure a MEWP is kept in a safe operating condition are Inspection, Maintenance and Thorough Examination. 

·         Inspection – using visual and function checks to show that the MEWP can be operated, adjusted and maintained safely and to identify defects and deterioration.

·         Maintenance – the process and work of making sure that a machine is kept in a safe state, in efficient working order and in good repair.

·         Thorough Examination – an examination which may include testing of a MEWP undertaken by a competent person in the depth and detail necessary to enable them to determine whether the equipment being examined is safe to be taken into or continue in use until the next thorough examination date is due.

The guidelines are long and detailed so it’s impossible for us to cover all issues on this subject here.  However, they can be accessed and downloaded for free on the Construction Plant Hire Association website.