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August 2, 2010

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Safe working with MEWPs

Guidance on best practice when using mobile elevated work platforms (MEWPs) in confined overhead spaces has been released by the Strategic Forum for Construction Plant Safety Group.*

The aim of the guidance is to help users of MEWPs avoid trapping or crushing incidents when operating these machines in confined overhead spaces. According to the UK-based Forum, there has been a number of incidents in recent years, some of them fatal, in which the operator or another person was crushed against fixtures or other obstacles while working at height. These incidents could have been prevented by proper planning and preparation, selection of appropriate equipment, and correct use, added the Forum.

“The document offers straightforward guidance for both managers and operators of MEWPs,” said Tim Whiteman, managing director of the International Powered Access Federation (IPAF), one of the lead organisations in the Forum. “Anyone involved in using MEWPs will benefit from reading this document, which will, in the longer run, help prevent these rare but dangerous accidents that can happen when MEWPs are used in confined overhead spaces.”

The guidance is divided into two parts. Part 1 is aimed at planners, managers and instructors and covers hazards, risk assessment, controls and responsibilities. The annexes to Part 1 give detailed information that can assist in the identification of trapping risks and in the planning and managing of work activities to protect against trapping incidents.

Part 2 is aimed at those using and supervising MEWPs and those responsible for rescuing anyone trapped on a MEWP platform. Part 2 has been designed for use in briefings or toolbox talks for supervisors and MEWP operators.

The document contains references to UK legislation and is not intended to be complete guidance on all aspects of MEWP operation, said the Forum, adding that operators of MEWPs must at all times be properly trained and familiarised.

Best practice guidance for MEWPs: Avoiding trapping/crushing injuries to people in the platform is available to download from the Publications section of the IPAF website. Versions in Dutch, French, German, Italian and Spanish will be available shortly from IPAF.

* The Strategic Forum comprises representatives from the British Constructional Steelwork Association (BCSA), the Civil Engineering Contractors Association, Construction Skills, the Construction Plant-hire Association (CPA), Fall Arrest Safety Equipment Training (FASET), the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), the International Powered Access Federation (IPAF), the National Construction College (NCC), UCATT and the UK Contractors Group (UKCG).

Approaches to managing the risks associated Musculoskeletal disorders

In this episode of the Safety & Health Podcast, we hear from Matt Birtles, Principal Ergonomics Consultant at HSE’s Science and Research Centre, about the different approaches to managing the risks associated with Musculoskeletal disorders.

Matt, an ergonomics and human factors expert, shares his thoughts on why MSDs are important, the various prevalent rates across the UK, what you can do within your own organisation and the Risk Management process surrounding MSD’s.

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