23 Jul 2014

Safety fears grow over mobile elevating work platforms

• The HSE has issued a recent safety alert over one type of MEWP and is continuing to investigate how to more safely operate the machines

• Many incidents are caused by human error and lack of training, which can lead to worker deaths and fines for companies

• The safety of mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs) has been brought into question following a sharp increase worldwide in deaths involving workers operating the machines.

• Good to Go Safety's innovative Safe Equipment Management System (SEMS) encourages safety checks on Mobile Elevating Work Platforms and is the perfect addition to your H&S maintenance programmes - ensuring that your MEWP is always Good to Go!

Globally in 2013, there were 53 fatalities of workers using MEWPs, a rise of 65% on the previous year, with three deaths in the UK including an incident last year in Buckinghamshire when a crane toppled over and killed a 29-year-old foreman. This has prompted the UK’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to investigate and re-evaluate its advice on how the machines are being used.

Putting safety first
Last year 35 of 5,583 examined MEWPs had defects which would have harmed the users or nearby workers, while 105 machines had serious defects which posed immediate or imminent danger to personnel. While larger construction companies are well aware of their responsibilities under the law, such as making sure a MEWP is properly maintained, it is smaller firms that may not be aware of potential risks.

The HSE issued a safety alert over the machine involved in the UK incident, a Genie Z135/70 MEWP, to ensure its stability and says “more information” may follow on MEWP safety.

Reducing MEWP hazards
There are a number of precautions that can reduce the risk of injury when operating a MEWP.

• Confined overhead working: If there are overhead structures, consider selecting a MEWP that has been designed to prevent such accidental contact

• Ground conditions: The platform should be used on firm and level ground

• Guardrails: Make sure the work platform is fitted with effective guardrails and toe boards

• Arresting falls: If there is still a risk of people falling from the platform a harness with a short work restraint lanyard must be provided

• Falling objects: Barrier off the area around the platform

• Weather: Set a maximum safe wind speed for operation. Inspect the platform before use after severe weather

• Nearby hazards: 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

Used in a variety of sectors and for working at a height of up to 60 metres, MEWPs have become a common sight, on both the high street and building sites.

Common causes of accidents
The HSE stresses that the most significant MEWP dangers arise from operation and use of the machine – incidents generally range from overturning platforms, to falls from height and entrapment – rather than from their movement as a site vehicle as its important to select the right MEWP for the job and site.

MEWPs come in a variety of forms, including vertical ‘scissor’ lifts, self-propelled booms, vehicle-mounted booms and trailer-mounted booms, and are seen as offering safe and quick access to heights. However, the various machines all come with slightly different operating methods and can topple over if they are overloaded or poorly operated.

The Good to Go MEWP safety system can be used on multiple applications, including cherry pickers, telescopic booms and scissor lifts. Using the Good to Go Safety MEWP system will help you comply with PUWER, LOLER, WAHR, CDM, IPAF & HSE legislation and best practise. The highly visible Good to Go Status tag can be positioned by the point of entry to remind operatives to carry out the MEWP pre-use checks and advise the findings to all employees. To ensure your putting safety first click here


  1. "Safety first", we have heard this slogan so many times but frankly speaking we don't care about it anymore. The target is getting tougher and we compromise with our health and a safety these days in order to achieve those hard targets.

    Arnold Brame

    1. It is a viewpoint I can understand (if not condone) - the companies that do invest in H&S and maintaining equipment/employee safety, and doing the job properly will often be undercut by a company that is not so ethical, making it a potentially vicious circle. During the recent economic downturn (particularly in the construction industry) it was always a worry that cost cutting would become more important than H&S. Unfortunately until an accident happens and people see the devastating effect it can have on friends and families, I think the "not caring about safety" attitude will remain with many that are struggling to keep their heads above water and put bread on the table. Compromise is understandable and sometimes necessary but not if it means putting your life at risk, it should be a bare minimum to expect that when you go to work in the morning that you will be going home to see your family at the end of the day.

  2. Well said about the safety and instruction in Elevated Work Platform and I am getting more ideas by reading is post.


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