UPDATE: IPAF statement on use of emergency stop in MEWPs

UPDATE: 

Following the publication of the holding statement on the use of emergency stop in MEWPS on 30 November, IPAF has received further industry feedback and would like to highlight some key points in relation to the following paragraph:

“At this time IPAF does not believe the detection of risk associated with this singular incident outweighs the risk associated with not isolating controls and, as such, does not advise any immediate change to acknowledged industry safe practice or to its delivery of training or safety and technical guidance.”

IPAF always recommends following the MEWP manufacturers’ recommendations, including information contained in the operator’s manual; and reiterates that in addition to being trained, all MEWP operators must carry out thorough machine-specific familiarisation prior to using a MEWP. As such, the above paragraph represents IPAF’s current general advice only, and does not relate to any specific machinery.

IPAF continues to actively engage with members and is currently undertaking a survey of MEWP manufacturers to identify concerns and gather further information regarding the use of the emergency stop at the platform controls.

IPAF’s experts and committee members will reconvene in just over a week’s time to consider feedback gathered via the survey and to discuss possible next steps and will continue to keep members and the wider industry updated.

The original statement, issued 30 November 2022, follows:

IPAF continues to actively engage with members and is currently undertaking a survey of MEWP manufacturers to identify concerns and gather further information regarding the use of the emergency stop at the platform controls.

IPAF’s experts and committee members will reconvene in just over a week’s time to consider feedback gathered via the survey and to discuss possible next steps and will continue to keep members and the wider industry updated.

The International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) has issued the following statement concerning the use of the platform emergency stop function in mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs) following safety alert JCPT2223RTB issued by Multiplex on 21 November 2022, and the subsequent response from the manufacturer of the MEWP referenced by the alert.

Following a meeting between IPAF training, safety and technical experts, representatives of IPAF’s Training Committee, International Safety Committee and Manufacturers’ Technical Committee on Monday 28 November, Brian Parker, IPAF’s Head of Safety and Technical, comments: “IPAF has been made aware of an incident involving a Dingli machine on a Multiplex worksite, which necessitated a platform-to-platform rescue for the MEWP’s occupants. Thankfully no-one was injured.

“Early indications are that this was an isolated incident involving the movement of a stabilising jack-leg which, according to the MEWP manufacturer, is associated with hydraulic system performance. Investigations are ongoing by both the contractor and the MEWP manufacturer.

“In the report, the manufacturer recommends that the emergency stop, or ‘E-Stop’, should remain in the out position when the platform is stationary and working at height as a method of mitigating the hazardous situation outlined.

“It is currently acknowledged as a widespread industry practice that operators of MEWPs are advised via training and safety guidance that the operator should always seek to isolate the platform controls when positioned at height to conduct a task or tasks. Many operators choose to achieve this by activating the emergency stop function at the platform controls.

“It is clear from incidents and near-misses reported via IPAF’s accident reporting portal – and analysis of the resulting data – that there is a significant number of avoidable accidents each year caused by involuntary or accidental activation of the machine platform controls. One way to mitigate this risk is to isolate the platform controls while working at height – this is explained as part of the IPAF operator training course.

“At this time IPAF does not believe the detection of risk associated with this singular incident outweighs the risk associated with not isolating controls and, as such, does not advise any immediate change to acknowledged industry safe practice or to its delivery of training or safety and technical guidance.

“However, in light of this singular incident, which has raised questions and concerns from the powered access industry and end contractors, IPAF has committed to use its position as a global industry body to co-ordinate a response.

“Currently, in addition to undergoing quality training, IPAF advises that all operators should undergo thorough familiarisation on the MEWPs they are asked to use. This should extend to understanding what methods can be used to isolate the platform controls.

“Following our meeting, IPAF resolves to communicate to MEWP machine manufacturers via a survey to establish all the implications of using the E-Stop button as a means of isolating platform controls. IPAF will also attempt to establish how this is conveyed in MEWP operator manuals. Once this piece of industry research is concluded, IPAF’s experts and committee representatives will reconvene to consider next steps.

“IPAF also commits to keeping members and the wider industry appraised of any developments or outcomes and will seek to feed any relevant information into future safety updates, legislative or regulatory revisions and design, training or safe-use standards development as appropriate.”

● 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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