MEWP Safety: How to ensure safe use of the MEWP

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Elevated working platform safety regulations
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MEWP safety covers all safety measures necessary to ensure the safety of any personnel using or working around the MEWP.

The MEWP is an acronym for Mobile Elevated Working Platform. It is used to carry out activities above ground level (Working at height).

As defined by BS EN 280:2013, a ‘Mobile Elevating Work Platform’ is a mobile machine which consists as a minimum of a work platform with controls, an extending structure and chassis; that is intended for work at height.’

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There MEPWs are available in two (2) basic types:

  • Vertical MEWP (Like, the scissor lifts) and
  • Boom MEWP (like, the cherry pickers), which are then subdivided into either ‘static’ or ‘mobile’, depending on whether the MEWP can still be self-propelled backwards or forwards once the platform is raised.

MEWP dangers arise majorly from operation and use of the machine rather than from their movement as a site vehicle.

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Hazards associated with MEWPs

Some of the major hazards associated with the use and operation of the MEWP which has been known to cause both serious injuries and fatalities include:

  • Entrapment: Operator being trapped between part of the basket and a fixed structure.
  • Overturning: The machine may overturn throwing the operator from the basket;
  • Falling: An operator may fall from the basket during work activities.
  • Collision: The machine may collide with pedestrians, overhead cables or nearby vehicles.

All these hazards should be identified when carrying out the elevated work platform risk assessment.

Mobile elevated working platform legal provisions

The legal provisions governing MEWPs are contained in the:

  • Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005,
  • Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007 (particularly Chapter 2-Use of Work Equipment and Part 4-Work at Height),
  • European Communities (Machinery) Regulations 2008
    [S.I.No.407 of 2008], and
  • Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Construction)
    Regulations 2013

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MEWP safety precautions

  • Choose appropriate MEWP for every activity. The choice of an elevated working platform should be base on the kind of activity that will be carried out, work environment, available space, the MEWP safe working load, number of people it can accommodate, etc.
  • Good risk assessment must be carried out on the MEWP to identify hazards and also plan safety measures to control the hazards identified.
  • Follow the equipment manufacturers instruction.
  • The equipment should not be used to convey workers from one place to another except on special conditions.
  • All employees involved with the use of the MEWP has to be trained on the hazards and safety precautions required for the equipment.
  • The platform should be used on firm and level ground. Any temporary covers should be strong enough to withstand the applied pressure.
  • Outriggers must be extended and chocked before raising the platform; spreader plates may be necessary.
  • Make sure the work platform is fitted with effective guard rails and toe boards.
  • Do not operate a MEWP close to overhead cables or other dangerous machinery, or allow any part of the arm to protrude into a traffic route.
  • A programme of daily visual checks, regular inspections and servicing schedules should be established in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and the risks associated with each MEWP.
  • Operators should be encouraged to report defects or problems, and prompt action taken on the issue.
  • The MEWP must be thoroughly examined at least every six months by a competent person or in accordance with an examination scheme drawn up by such a competent person.
  • Generally, MEWPs should not be used to lift anything else aside from tools and accessories.
  • Use of body harness and other relevant PPE’s should be enforced when working in the MEWP.
  • Work area should be cordon to prevent falling object from getting to low-level workers.
  • The equipment must always be operated by a well-trained and competent operator.
  • Maintain a safe exclusion zone around the MEWP always.

MEWP Exclusion Zone

MEWP Exclusion zone, also called MEWP exclusion zone radius is a determined clearance area around the MEWP. Though some quarters recommend 10m radius if possible for exclusion zone, other quarters believe it should be determined by the operator or banksman. The main aim of creating the exclusion zone is to prevent other employees not involved in the task from being affected.

Additional document

MEWP Safety Checklist

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