Safety Tip : Never work alone
The right elevating work platforms (EWPs) for the right job can seriously reduce your work hours. Not only do EWPs mean you have more space to take tools and materials with you (saving repeat trips) but they can also reduce the dangers to those on the ground. For example, tree surgeons may find they no longer need someone to stand at the base of a tree to pass up tools, reducing the risk of harm and cutting the number of workers needed. That said, of course, some pieces of access equipment require an extra person just to safely operate the machinery.
Current codes of practice for safe work make it clear that anyone exposed to the risk of a fall must be properly supervised by a competent person. Common sense must always be used, anyone using an elevating work platform is always at risk of a fall.
A Helping Hand
A recent study, or incident analysis, of accidents using elevated work platforms in the UK highlighted that lone working exacerbated the injuries sustained by workers using elevating work platforms. So, as a minimum common-sense safety tip, even if you are very familiar and confident with your machinery, having an additional team member close by means that if any accidents occur, help is available.
The analysis document concluded that working alone was one of seven key contributing factors for workers being crushed or trapped while using access equipment such as travel towers. In such cases, workers have just minutes to seek rescue before they fall victim to asphyxia.
Just having another team member nearby helps but, of course, even if help can be summoned, it would be better still if a competent person was on hand who could operate ground controls for the EWP in case their colleague gets into difficulties. In particular, being able to lower the platform from the ground makes it easier to both free and assist a colleague who has been injured.
A Different Perspective
Having a colleague at ground level can make a huge difference to how you operate your machinery, not only in terms of safety but also in spotting potential hazards or alternative ways of working. Let’s return to the example of a tree surgeon. While an elevated work platform gives a much better view of the tree you’re working on than can be achieved by simply climbing it, having someone on the ground while you work means they can make you aware of hazards you might not have noticed, or that have been caused as a result of your work.
A different view of the worksite and an awareness of ground conditions can mean safer operation of your access equipment and improved stability and manoeuvrability. A person on the ground can also enable you to tackle problems more easily if they arise. Always work in teams, with at least one person on the ground.