From the humble step ladder to the most technologically advanced mobile elevated work platforms (MEWPs) and the most powerful of scissor lifts, there is one single factor that requires more attention than any other when using access equipment, and that is safety. Anybody who will be working at height should be made aware of the inherent dangers and should be afforded special consideration. The steps below outline the best approach to take when dealing with employees who are using equipment to access high locations.
- Acquire the Best Equipment Possible – Whether you are buying or hiring, you should never attempt to economise on the acquisition of this type of equipment if it may compromise the safety of your employees in any way. The member of staff who is responsible for the acquisition of equipment used to access high places needs to be aware of what to look for when buying previously used items and should have an in-depth knowledge of the various different types of equipment commonly in use.
- Provide Training – All personnel who will be working at height must receive adequate training in the safe use of any and all equipment they may have occasion to use while carrying out their duties. This training should be delivered by a qualified instructor and there should be an assessment once it has been completed. If you have a qualified in-house instructor, this step should be relatively easy to complete; if you do not have somebody on your workforce who is qualified to deliver such training, you should look for local companies that specialise in industrial training courses.
- Check Equipment – Before a ladder, scissor lift, or MEWP is used, it should be carefully inspected and tested to ensure that it is in good working order. While there is much less to check when using simple equipment such as a standard aluminium ladder than when using a mechanical scissor lift, for example, it does not mean that you should skip this step. If you want to minimise the risk to which your staff are exposed, all equipment should be checked every time it is used.
- Maintenance of Equipment – Regardless of whether it has been used recently or not, all equipment should be maintained on a regular basis to ensure that it remains in excellent working order. Such maintenance should be performed by a fully trained member of staff or, if one is not available, by an outside contractor with the requisite qualifications and experience.
If you need more information on the different types of equipment available in the United Kingdom or on safety measures to take when working at height, you can find current working practices and guidance on the HSE website, by following the link provided. You should also speak to the suppliers of any equipment you hire, to ensure that it is serviced on a regular basis and to request information regarding its safe usage if you need any clarification. You can find contact details for local suppliers by searching online business directories.