2 May 2013

Mobile Elevated Work Platform (MEWP) incident analysis

Mobile Elevated Work Platforms (MEWPs) are commonly used across all industrial sectors by a whole variety of trades, including mechanical and electrical contractors, and painters and decorators, as a safe, temporary method of working at height.

There is a large range of MEWPs on the market and their controls and functionality varies depending on the category, manufacturer, model and size of machine. As their popularity and range of applications has grown, concerns have emerged about trapping/crushing accidents involving MEWPs.

This report identifies accidents involving MEWPs and analyses common factors found. The work has focused on MEWP occupants being trapped against overhead or adjacent objects whilst in the platform of the MEWP, particularly when the operator becomes trapped over the controls (sustained involuntary operation of control). Typically, this has occurred when the operator has been moving the MEWP within relatively confined areas. This research has centred on person-machine interface/human factors analysis rather than engineering issues.

This report and the work it describes were funded by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Its contents, including any opinions and/or conclusions expressed, are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect HSE policy.

Click here for access to the full report and its findings.

A number of key contributing factors were identified for operators becoming trapped or crushed whilst within the MEWP platform. These are:

  • Operator makes an error when operating the controls;
  • Probable failure in observing (perceiving/identifying) a hazard in the surrounding environment (situation awareness);
  • Operators leaning over the side rail of the platform while manoeuvring;
  • Poor ground conditions;
  • Poor MEWP condition/maintenance;
  • Training and experience aspects;
  • Working alone.

Section 5.5 (MEWP Condition) of the Report states that "Five of the incidents highlighted MEWP age or a control malfunction as a factor that may have contributed to the incident. MEWPs should only be operated when they are in a good working order, and this highlights the importance of carrying out pre-use checks and ensuring regular maintenance".

Section 5.6 (Training & Experience) looks at the importance of training and familiarity of the equipment.


There are some interesting findings to be found within this report and as ever, we hope that by providing a simple MEWP inspection checklist, that we can help to remind (infrequent) users of what they ought to be looking for before they start using a MEWP. For more information on our MEWP Inspection Systems please click here to visit our Good to Go Safety website.

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