Representatives of the International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) have attended an important cross-border forum on health & safety hosted at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, concerned with sharing best practice and comparing regulatory regimes in Germany and France.
The French authorities of the Région Grand Est and the German authorities of the State of Baden-Württemberg, as well as the south of Rhineland-Palatinate, have been working together since 1994 within a Franco-German steering committee led by the Euro-Institute dealing with occupational safety issues.
IPAF was invited to join the forum to better understand the powered access industry and keep up to date with best practice and legislative developments regards the safe use of Mobile Elevating Work Platforms (MEWPs).
The aim of the Steering Committee is to share best practice across borders, to exchange information and practical solutions to common occupational health & safety concerns.
A variety of seminars, workshops and forums on common topics of occupational health & safety are organised each year, and the topic for 2018 was Working Safely on MEWPs, including Hazards and Protective Measures.
Christine Lell and Reinhard Willenbrock, IPAF representatives for France and Germany respectively, were invited to attend the forum meeting in Strasbourg at the end of 2018, and productive discussions took place with the relevant national health & safety bodies.
Reinhard Willenbrock, who addressed the forum, comments: “IPAF was invited to join the forum to better understand our industry's point of view. The Forum thus makes an important contribution to informing companies about the safe use of MEWPs.
“This knowledge, in turn, is an important prerequisite for avoiding work-related accidents when conducting temporary work at height. It was a great opportunity for IPAF to be represented at this conference in the European Parliament and to join speakers including members of the European Parliament, representatives of the state authorities, and employers' liability insurance associations.
“It quickly became clear that in both Germany and France, there is a great deal of scrutiny on the use of MEWPs and that many provisions and procedures are virtually identical, especially in areas such as risk assessment, which could aid legislative alignment and best practice guidance across borders in future.
“It was also a good opportunity to look at the areas where legislation and recognised safe practices diverge – for instance in Germany there is a requirement for the annual update of the training of operators. Operator training in France is currently being revised and may be adapted to be closer to the requirements in Germany. IPAF training is certified to ISO18878 and is recognised by state authorities in both countries.
“Another interesting difference is that, depending on the device type, in France, the periodic inspection requirement for powered access machines is every three or six months – in Germany it is every 12 months (though this may vary depending on the load rating).
“In this respect, those who operate or import MEWPs cross-border between must continue to be aware of and meet these varying requirements, while authorities may consider aligning requirements in future based on considerations and discussions at forums such as these.”