Update on use of emergency stop platform control in MEWPs

The International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) has issued a further update in regard to industry concerns around the use of the platform emergency stop function in mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs) following another meeting of its training, safety and technical experts, representatives of IPAF’s Training Committee, International Safety Committee and Manufacturers’ Technical Committee.  

Brian Parker, IPAF’s Head of Safety and Technical, comments: “On 13 December, and further to detailed discussions across the industry, IPAF convened another meeting of its safety, training and technical experts and committee representatives to consider ongoing issues of concern around the use of the emergency stop, or ‘E-Stop’, to isolate platform controls in order to mitigate risk from unintended or accidental movement of machines while occupants are working at height.  

“IPAF conducted a survey of equipment manufacturers to establish the level of concern about this widespread industry practice, and while the majority of respondents were unconcerned, a small but significant number of respondents said that they do have concerns about using the emergency stop to isolate platform controls while working at height. 

“IPAF will continue to liaise with manufacturers to further understand both the specific concerns raised, and the breadth of concern across the industry in regard to this practice, and to help evaluate the balance of risks identified. If any specific concerns identified require it, IPAF safety guidance and/or content in IPAF training courses will be modified to cover any risks not previously addressed.  

“IPAF maintains that, based on analysis of data about incidents and near-misses reported via IPAF’s accident reporting portal, across an industry that has both new and older designs in service, there remains a significant risk related to the involuntary or accidental activation of the machine platform controls. One way to mitigate this is to isolate the platform controls while working at height – this is explained as part of the IPAF MEWP operator training course and is acknowledged as industry safe practice.  

“We wish to reiterate our earlier advice that IPAF always recommends following the MEWP manufacturers’ recommendations in full, including the information contained in the operator’s manual. We wish to restate that, in addition to being trained, all MEWP operators must carry out thorough machine-specific familiarisation prior to using any MEWP. As part of this, operators and those who oversee MEWP operations such as supervisors, foremen or managers, should be aware of the platform emergency stop function, how and when to use it, and what functions are disabled when it is activated.  

“We continue to communicate with MEWP manufacturers, both directly and via IPAF’s Manufacturers’ Technical Committee, as well as our rental and training members, contractors, and end users, to ensure that all concerns are addressed and to communicate up-to-date safety and technical guidance based on the best available incident data and risk analysis.” 

● For all of IPAF’s safety and technical resources, including Toolbox Talk workplace briefings and Andy Access safety posters, please see www.ipaf.org/resources or visit www.ipaf.org/contact to find details of your nearest IPAF office or representative.

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