OverWatch secondary guarding introduced to UK

Australian company Equipment Safety Services (EQSS) has arrived in the UK with its innovative OverWatch device, which can prevent deaths from crushing and trapping incidents on scissor lifts.

 OverWatch demo EQSS’ OverWatch system demonstrated by Speedy. (Photo: EQSS)

Five UK contractors are set to begin trials of the OverWatch secondary guarding device this year. The trials will see scissor lifts from two of the UK’s largest rental fleets, giving operators a chance to test the OverWatch on live construction sites.

OverWatch, which was shortlisted for the 2022 IAPA Innovative Technology Prize, uses a Lidar sensor, with an infrared light beam to track the operator’s movements. The system analyses the operator’s position and movement in relation to the motion of the scissor lift. It can then determine when an operator has moved abruptly or is in a dangerous position – either of which will immediately stop the MEWP.

Craig Hook, head of McAlpine Lifting Solutions at Sir Robert McAlpine, said his company was pleased to be one of the first in the UK to get the OverWatch on their machines.

“Sir Robert McAlpine is very keen to use technology to support safe operational use of MEWPs. The OverWatch system, as part of a safe system of work, promises safety without impairing the use of the machine for the planned works. Historically, protection of occupants of scissor lifts has been problematic, so we are trialling the new system to assess for the broader benefit.”

 OverWatch demo The OverWatch system on a JLG lift. (Photo: EQSS)

Between 2016 and 2020 there were 27 trapping incidents on scissor lifts around the world, 19 of which proved fatal, according to IPAF Global Safety Report 2021. Most of those incidents occurred in the construction and facilities management sectors.

Preventing such tragic incidents is what drove the industry to introduce secondary guarding on all MEWPs, said EQSS, but previous protective devices had not been suitable for all types of scissor lifts, nor in all types of conditions.

Ross Bowden, managing director of EQSS, explained, “An effective secondary guarding system can mean the difference between an incident and a tragedy.

“It is encouraging that Sir Robert McAlpine is getting on the front foot to evaluate the OverWatch system. It is tremendous to see a company that is proactive and not waiting for a tragic incident to occur.”

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