Best practice to avoid crushing

18 July 2010

The UK-based Strategic Forum for Construction Plant Safety Group, of which IPAF (International Powered Access Federation) is one of the lead organisations, has released a Best Practice Guidance for MEWPs (mobile elevating work platforms) 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. IPAF says that these incidents could have been prevented by proper planning and preparation, selection of appropriate equipment and correct use.

This guidance has been prepared by the industry to provide clarity about the safe use of MEWPs including planning, equipment selection, training, provision of information, familiarisation, 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 Tim Whiteman, IPAF's managing director. "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 Strategic Forum comprises representatives from the BCSA (British Constructional Steelwork Association), the Civil Engineering Contractors Association, Construction Skills, the CPA (Construction Plant-hire Association), FASET (Fall Arrest Safety Equipment Training), the HSE (Health & Safety Executive), the IPAF, the National Construction College, UCATT and the UK Contractors Group.

The guidance is divided into two parts: part 1 is aimed at planners, managers and instructors; it 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 is aimed at those using and supervising MEWPs and those responsible for rescuing anyone trapped on a MEWP platform. Part 2 has been designed to be used in briefings or toolbox talks for supervisors and MEWP operators.

The document contains references to UK legislation and is not intended to be complete guidance on all aspects of MEWP operation. Operators of MEWPs must at all times be properly trained and familiarised.

Translations of the guidance in Dutch, French, German, Italian and Spanish will be available shortly from IPAF.

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