Monthly Archives: February 2014

Be Aware of the Dangers of MEWPs

Mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs) is a mechanical device used to provide temporary access for people or equipment to inaccessible areas, usually at height. There are distinct types of mechanized access platforms and the individual types may also be known as a “cherry picker” or a “scissor lift”.

All MEWPs have the potential for accidents. In particular, most fatal and serious injuries involving MEWPs arise from:

  • Entrapment: operator trapped between part of the basket and a fixed structure, e.g. when manoeuvring in confined overhead areas of steelwork. Operators may become trapped against the platform controls, and if this happens they may not be able to stop the machine running.
  • Overturning: the machine may overturn throwing the operator from the basket.
  • Falling: an operator may fall from the basket during work activities.
  • Collision: the vehicle may collide with pedestrians, overhead cables or nearby vehicles.

Apply these Control Measures to Protect Your Staff

The use of MEWPs is regulated by the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 as well as Regulations 5, 6 & 20 of Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

You must identify your MEWP hazards within a risk assessment and make sure that suitable control measures are put in place.

In particular:

  • Select the right MEWP for the job and site
  • Have a plan for rescuing someone from a MEWP and practice it
  • Brief operators on the hazards
  • Make sure the MEWP is used on firm flat ground
  • Use outriggers and extend them before raising the platform
  • Make sure the platform is fitted with guardrails and toe boards
  • Provide harnesses to arrest any falls
  • Take into account bad weather
  • Consider site hazards such as overhead cables
  • Make sure the operators are competent
  • Inspect and maintain your MEWPs.

MEWPS are a great way of carrying out work at height safely, but only if the risks are properly assessed and precautions put in place.

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Protect Your Apprentices from Injury and Death

Definitions of young people and children by age:

  • A young person is anyone under 18
  • A child is anyone who has not yet reached the official minimum school leaving age.

Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, an employer has a responsibility to ensure that young apprentices employed by them are not exposed to risk due to:

  • Lack of experience
  • Being unaware of existing or potential risks and/or
  • Lack of maturity.

You must consider:

  • The layout of the workplace
  • The physical, biological and chemical agents they will be exposed to
  • How they will handle work equipment
  • How the work and processes are organised
  • The extent of health and safety training needed
  • Risks from particular agents, processes and work.

The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 applies as well.

Protect the Potential in Your Apprentices – Act Now!

You can use your existing arrangements for assessment and management of risks to your apprentices, but you also need to:

  • Take into account the potential lack of physical and psychological capacity of the apprentice
  • Pay special attention to exposure to harmful agents such as chemicals, heat, cold or vibration (the effect of which can be accentuated by youth)
  • Pay special attention to the apprentice’s experience and training
  • Pay special attention to their possible lack of attention
  • Consider carefully the role of supervision and ensure the correct level and type is provided

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Fire Emergency Procedures and Means of Escape

  • Fire safety legislation requires the establishment of procedures for serious and imminent danger and the provision and maintenance of suitable means of escape.
  • Employers must ensure staff are aware of the fire evacuation procedures, including location of fire exits and assembly points. Carry out fire drills and exercises.
  • Those who may require additional support and assistance when evacuating should be identified and specific plans developed for them.
  • Fire exits and emergency routes must be properly marked with signs and, where necessary, adequate emergency escape lighting.
  • It is the duty of the responsible person/duty holder/appropriate person to ensure that there are sufficient numbers of escape routes to enable occupiers to reach a place of reasonable or total safety. Each employee should be aware of the action to take in the event of fire and the recommended evacuation policies.
  • Assembly points outside the building should be indicated clearly. These points should have been selected in consultation with the fire authority and routes to them signposted with appropriate notices.
  • Systems for providing relevant information to the fire and rescue services should be developed.

Ensure you provide a safe environment for employees.

Have you got an up to date fire risk assessment?

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Using Ladders at Work

In order to use ladders safely at work and comply with the current legislation a fairly straightforward process has to be followed.

1. Identify the tasks that you or your employees need to carry out at height.

Remember work at height means work in any place from which a person could fall a distance liable to cause personal injury. That can mean any height and even work underground.

2. Complete a risk assessment for each task to identify the safest work method.

The aim is to establish whether you have an alternative other than to work at height. If not then you need to identify the most suitable work equipment to do the job. If it is a short job, under 30 minutes, or if there are features of the work site that make other equipment impractical then you can use a ladder to do the job. Ladders are not banned from the workplace but you must ensure that they are the most appropriate piece of equipment to use.

3. Ensure that the people using the ladders are competent.

The Work at Height Regulations 2005 is clear on this point – all employers, employees and the self-employed shall ensure that no person engages in any activity in relation to work at height or work equipment unless he or she is competent to do so, or if being trained, is being supervised by a competent person.

Competence can be demonstrated through a variety of means including practical and theoretical knowledge, training and experience. This is important as the quality of the training makes all the difference. ‘Practical and theoretical…’ The training needs both elements so a CD or internet based training course won’t be enough to meet the requirement here, nor will a training course that doesn’t have a strong practical section.

4. Inspect and maintain all your ladders & access equipment.

The Work at Height Regulations 2005 stipulate that regular inspections are conducted by a competent person for all work at height equipment. The records of formal inspections are legally required to be made available to a health and safety inspector. Storage of the records must be made in a way which is accessible but protected from interfering or being tampered with by others.

Again that word competent comes into play and it is pretty crucial in respect to the detailed inspection of ladders that must be completed every 3 or 6 months. Ladder inspectors need to be properly trained including practical and theoretical knowledge, training and experience.

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