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New guidance on safe use of MEWPs

THE UK-based Strategic Forum for Construction Plant Safety Group, of which the International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) is one of the lead organizations, has released a best-practice guidance document for mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs), with the aim of avoiding trapping or crushing incidents when these machines are used in confined overhead spaces.

There have been a number of such accidents over the last few years, including fatal ones. Some of these incidents have involved the operator or other person being crushed against fixtures or other obstacles while working at height. These incidents could have been prevented by proper planning and preparation, selection of appropriate equipment and correct use.

The new guidance has been prepared by the industry to provide clarity about the safe use of MEWPs, including planning, equipment selection, training, provision of information, familiarization, safe use, supervision and rescue procedures, together with monitoring and management of the work.

‘The document offers straightforward guidance for both managers and operators of MEWPs,’ said IPAF managing director Tim Whiteman. ‘Anyone involved in using MEWPs will benefit from reading this document, which will, in the longer run, help prevent these rare but dangerous accidents that could happen when MEWPs are used in confined overhead spaces.’

The guidance is divided into two parts. Part 1 is aimed at planners, managers and instructors, and covers hazards, risk assessment, controls and responsibilities. The annexes to Part 1 give detailed information that can assist in the identification of trapping risks and in the planning and managing of work activities to protect against trapping incidents.

Part 2, which is aimed at those using and supervising MEWPs, and those responsible for rescuing anyone trapped on a MEWP platform, is designed to be used in briefings or toolbox talks for supervisors and MEWP operators.

IPAF points out that the document contains references to UK legislation and is not intended to be complete guidance on all aspects of MEWP operation. The Federation also stresses that operators of MEWPs must, at all times, be properly trained and familiarized.


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