Mobile Elevated Work Platforms (MEWPs) are responsible for a number of workplace injuries and according to new global data, are to blame for an increasing number of fatalities on work sites.
The most fatal and serious injuries involving MEWPs arise from overturning, entrapment, falling and collisions.
Entrapment can occur when an operator is 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 can happen when the machine capsizes for some reason throwing the operator from the basket. Also workers can often fall from the MEWP during their work activities or it may collide with vehicles, pedestrians, overhead cables or structures on the worksite.
It is important that principal contractors identify the hazards associated with MEWPs and attempt to eliminate them. Suitable control measures need to be implemented if these hazards cannot be completely eliminated or else one of the scenarios above is likely. These types of incidents aren’t as unlikely as we may think, if global data supplied by International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) is anything to go by.
According to information provided by the federation, the number of fatalities globally due to work on MEWPs has risen by 65 per cent, mostly occurring from falls from heights and overturning of the MEWP. The highest number of deaths was reported by companies in the USA.
The following excerpt taken from a post on http://www.theconstructionindex.co.uk explains:
The main causes of these fatalities were: overturning (accounting for 10 deaths), fall from height (9), entrapment (5), electrocution (3), and impact with a MEWP (1).
Thirteen of the fatalities involved booms, 10 involved scissor lifts, and three involved vehicle mounts. In two cases, the machine type was unknown.
Of these fatalities, 13 occurred in the USA, two each in France, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK, and one each in Armenia, Canada, Ireland, Malaysia, Norway, Spain and the UAE.
While releasing these findings, IPAF also updated the 2012 preliminary results following the reporting of a previously unrecorded fatal accident in Canada in October 2012. This brings the total fatalities in 2012 to 32, instead of the 31 initially reported.
Compared with the first half of 2012 which saw 17 fatalities reported, the number of fatalities reported for the first half of 2013 has increased by about 65%. IPAF believes that the accident reporting project is capturing more data, not necessarily that there are more accidents.
It is important to select the right MEWP for the job and site because overturning and collisions can be prevented in this way. Safety experts also suggest having a plan for rescuing someone from a MEWP and practicing it. In other words, someone on the ground should know what to do in an emergency and how to operate the machine’s ground controls if the operator is incapacitated or injured.