Mobile Elevated Work Platforms
Work at height doesn’t just happen in the construction industry, there are plenty of other sectors where people are required to work at height such as window cleaning (which we covered last week), painting and decorating and tree work, to name but a few. Today we’re going to take a look at using access equipment in arboriculture – in other words, using mobile access work platforms (MEWPs) to carry out maintenance work on trees.
MEWPs should only be operated by trained and experienced personnel. In order to ensure safe operation and avoid incidents or machine damage, all operators (whether employed or self-employed) should attend a recognised operator training course, including theory and practical training with evaluation by a qualified person.
MEWPs are one of the safest pieces of equipment able to provide temporary access to work at height, provided that a detailed risk assessment is carried out prior to use. Before beginning any work, the operator should:
· Check that the access equipment is not damaged, is functioning correctly and is safe to use.
· Make sure that the ground is able to support the MEWP at all times and use suitable spreader plates under outriggers.
· Organise and manage segregated drop zones clear of the base and structure of the MEWP. Ensure that the workers and the platform are correctly positioned prior to any work beginning in order to eliminate the risk of anybody being hit by falling objects or debris.
· Take the necessary precautions to protect the operator from the chainsaw.
All applicable safety training guidelines should be followed, as should best practice and the instructions for safe operation supplied by the manufacturer should also be taken into consideration. While carrying out the work, a trained operator should:
· Perform a risk assessment in order to identify any potential hazards (like overhead power lines, etc.) and then take all necessary precautions to eliminate the risk of electrocution.
· Avoid making contact with branches in any way, taking extra care each time the boom is raised or lowered.
· Check regularly that the MEWP is not sinking into the ground.
· Wear an appropriate harness and make sure that the lanyard is secured to a designated anchor point inside the platform.
· Operate the MEWP controls smoothly, with care and be observant of your surroundings at all times.
· Don’t exceed the total load weight capacity for the MEWP or the maximum person’s guidance.
· Check that the MEWP is safe to operate in the prevailing wind speeds.
· Don’t use the MEWP as a crane or to secure any supporting ropes.
· Always refuel chainsaws on the ground, never take fuel up in the platform.
Once the work has been carried out, a trained operator should then:
· Clean any debris and dirt off the MEWP.
· Check the MEWP for damage and, if found, report it immediately to the appropriate person as the MEWP will not be able to be used again until it has been repaired.
· Leave the MEWP in a secure place with all controls isolated and the keys removed and stored appropriately.