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Using elevating work platforms safely

Elevating work platforms, or EWPs, are important for work at height. However, there have been many serious incidents where EWP operators have been trapped or crushed between the basket and overhead obstructions such as ceilings, beams, frameworks or other fittings. This film explains how to control the risks of using EWPs.

Download a copy of this film (ZIP/MP4, 71MB)

Voice over:  Elevating work platforms, or EWPs, are important for work at height.

However, there have been many serious incidents where EWP operators have been trapped or crushed between the basket and overhead obstructions such as ceilings, beams, frameworks or other fittings. Around a third of these were in the construction industry.

You can prevent serious injuries to your workers by managing these risks effectively.

Operators must be competent before operating any piece of plant, including EWPs.

If the EWP has a boom of 11 metres or longer, the operator must hold a high risk work licence.

Operators must be provided with adequate training so that they are familiar with each type of EWP they use.

EWP controls can differ between makes and models, so operators need to know four things in particular:

  • where the operator's manual is kept, and what's in it
  • the purpose and function of all controls
  • what safety devices are fitted that are specific to that make and model; and
  • how to lower the platform in an emergency.

Make sure you do your prestart inspection before you use the machine.

Keep records of the inspections and make sure there is a process for reporting faults or issues.

Some common prestart inspection items include:

  • warning devices
  • deadman control
  • drive, steering and brakes, and
  • any obvious faults.

Before starting work, always check the work area for any other hazards, such as overhead obstructions.

All mobile plant operators should be fully aware of their surroundings while they're working. Distractions such as mobile phones and conversations with other workers should be avoided.

Boom type EWPs have additional risks because the boom raises in an arc shape rather than straight up.

Having a spotter on the ground provides a second set of eyes to help the operator navigate difficult obstructions.

The most common EWP incidents happen when reversing, slewing or elevating near an obstruction or from unexpected movement of the boom near an obstruction.

Movement of the EWP should always be slow, deliberate and planned, with careful use of the EWPs proportional controls.

Start with large movements, like driving and elevating the EWP, and finish with finer controls.

If things do go wrong, other workers need to know how to use the ground controls and emergency descent devices for the type and model of EWP being used.

Supervisors and spotters should be trained and on site when the EWP is in use.

Keep your workers safe when using EWPs and manage the risks when working under overhead obstructions.

Work safe. Home safe.

Visit www.worksafe.qld.gov.au

RUN TIME: 3 mins 39 seconds