A campaign emphasising the importance of working safely to avoid falls from the platform when using Mobile Elevating Work Platforms (MEWPs) to enable temporary work at height has been launched by the International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) at its annual Summit in London, UK, on 10 March 2022.
IPAF’s Don’t Fall For It! safety campaign outlines the possible underlying causes of falls from the platform when using MEWPs, which almost always lead to serious injury or death. It offers operators and managers key advice to mitigate the most common risks and avoid accidents of this type, as identified in IPAF’s ongoing incident reporting and analysis via the www.ipafaccidentreporting.org portal.
Peter Douglas, CEO & MD of IPAF, comments: “MEWPs are designed to safely conduct temporary work at height in just about every environment, but every year the most common type of accident we see reported are falls from the platform, which as you can imagine nearly always lead to serious injury or death if they occur while using machines at height.
“We are determined that our new Don’t Fall For It! targeted global safety campaign will help to instil safe working practices and remind operators and managers of some fairly basic positive steps they can take to reduce the risk of such incidents occurring. The messaging is really simple – select the correct machine for the job, don’t take risks, don’t cut corners, and wear the correct personal fall protection equipment in boom-type platforms.”
Brian Parker, IPAF’s Head of Safety & Technical, says: “Operators can help avoid this type of accident by focusing on the principles we’ve set out as part of this campaign. If they are properly trained and familiarised on the MEWPs being used, then hopefully none of this guidance should be new, but we know that complacency breeds contempt, and that too often corners are being cut or fundamental principles of safe use ignored.
“With this safety campaign, IPAF is saying that, if you find yourself tempted to do something different to what you know is the right and proper way to work, or if you are ever asked to do something that you think just isn’t safe by a work colleague or supervisor, then ‘don’t fall for it!’ Far better to think twice and save a life – whether it is a workmate’s or your own!”
Key points of guidance in the IPAF Don’t Fall For It! global safety campaign include:
- Plan thoroughly – conduct a proper MEWP site survey/assessment, select the correct machine for the work and use professionally trained operator(s) and supervisor(s).
- Know your machine – operators should be trained on the machine type they are using and familiarised on the specific model. Operators should assess that the machine is suitable for the task and conditions, and adequate in terms of reach, articulation, and load-bearing capacity. Machine knowledge includes whether personal fall protection equipment (PFPE) should be used and, if so, what type to use, and how to attach it.
- Clip on – If personal PFPE is required, all occupants of the platform must attach their lanyard to the correct anchor point. Ensure movement within the platform is possible while attached, and do not move the machine or elevate the platform until and unless all occupants are attached.
- Set up and manoeuvre the machine/platform effectively – occupants should never need to over-reach, unfasten PFPE, step or climb on guardrails or otherwise extend the safe working envelope of the platform. Ensure vertical MEWPs are positioned and repositioned as necessary to allow easy access to the area of work to be undertaken; operators should not overreach or stand on guardrails to access a work area instead of taking the time and effort to correctly reposition the machine.
- Stay inside the platform/attached – the guardrails of the platform form the primary fall prevention and define the operational envelope of the machine being used. Always stay inside the platform. Where there is a requirement for PFPE, you must wear it. Do not exit the platform at height; unclip/exit only on completion of work when safely lowered to the ground.
IPAF offers further guidance on using MEWPs that provides more detail on specific risks and advises on safe operating procedures. For more information on all of IPAF’s safety campaigns and links to relevant technical guidance visit www.ipaf.org/safe or see www.ipaf.org/contact to find your nearest IPAF office or representative.