Why the primary MEWP operator must always control the machine from the platform

Grounds for Concern

Entrapment is a leading cause of injury and death when using MEWPs; operating equipment from the ground to position workers at height significantly increases the risks involved.

Entrapment is where MEWP occupants become trapped between the controls or guardrails and an immovable object or structure. Such situations often occur suddenly and in some circumstances the operator can make the situation worse by using the controls incorrectly in an attempt to free the occupants. The risk is increased if machines are operated from the ground to lift occupants to work at height. There is a dire need to outlaw this practice in India.

A major concern on worksites in India when using Mobile Elevating Work Platforms (MEWPs) is the all-too-common practice of operating machines from the ground using the auxiliary controls to lift platform occupants to work at height. This goes against the recommended safe methods of working, and, in effect, outsources the control of the platform. Continuous observation and assessment of risk is necessary to protect the people most likely to be injured or killed if a mistake is made.

Looking at IPAF’s latest Global Safety Report, which contains analysis of data gathered from around the world via IPAF’s accident reporting portal (ipafaccidentreporting.org), the year 2020 showed the highest number of entrapment reports; the number fell slightly in 2021. IPAF has been gathering accident data from when the reporting portal was launched in 2012, and since 2016 it is evident that the numbers have been higher than in previous years. This is, no doubt, owing in part to an increase in reporting amid raised awareness in the industry about reporting and how it can improve training and provide technical guidance.

Most entrapment situations have been reported from the USA, Canada, the UK, and France – though once again this is down to levels of reporting, with many incidents from countries including India, China and across the Middle East likely going unrecorded. Construction experienced the most entrapment situations, followed by facilities management.

The data indicates that more people seem to have been killed in incidents involving a boom or 3b-type equipment than any other machines, followed by the scissor lift or 3a-type machines. The vast majority of personnel involved in this type of incident is the occupant or operator, though there are also a significant number of delivery drivers, technicians, engineers, and rental company staff involved.

Over the past 10 years (2012-21) there were 110 reported entrapment incidents from 16 countries. From these reports IPAF has verified that there were 111 people involved and 98 people died. In the past three years (2019-21) there were 50 reports from 14 countries. From these reports we have verified that there were 51 people involved and 46 deaths. Well over half (57.5%) of entrapments occurred in the US, mostly in the construction industry. The facilities management sector is not far behind with 21.9% of deaths.

Can entrapment be prevented?
The guardrails offer primary protection for platform occupants. Not all secondary guarding devices disable or reverse functions. Customers still want frames that are physical and not mechanical. Primary guarding also comes in the form of a foot or function-enable switch that will prevent any functions from operating.

MEWP operators should have received the correct training and instruction in the type of secondary guarding fitted to the MEWP. The MEWP operator and platform occupants play a key part in their own safety by being aware of their surroundings and what entrapment hazards are present. These may not be directly overhead but could also be at the ground level. If a MEWP is travelling inside a building, be aware that occupants can become trapped by low-hanging obstacles such as joists or beams.

Work at height needs to be properly planned, supervised, and carried out in a safe manner. Ground rescue personnel should also be familiarised with any MEWP ground control functions and be able to lower the platform in the event of an emergency.

Reducing the number of such incidents requires the combined efforts of manufacturers, management, hirers, rental companies, and operators. In recent years, manufacturers have made advances in safety and technical innovations. Various manufacturers and industry experts are working together to standardise MEWP platform controls in order to prevent unintended movement. There have also been advances in secondary guarding devices; these have been predominately for boom-type MEWPs, but recently there have been developments for vertical-type MEWPs.

Always carry out risk assessments when conducting MEWP operations on site. MEWP operators should be made aware of potential entrapment situations. Supervisory staff should be trained in the safe use and management of MEWPs. A nominated ground rescue person should always be available to lower the MEWP to the ground in the event of an entrapment situation. Rental companies should ensure that all the machines provided to their customers have the appropriate information and instruction on the safe operation of the equipment. All MEWPs should be delivered with an operator’s manual, which must be kept with the machine at all times.

Time to ground unsafe practices
MEWPs should never be operated using the ground controls to allow workers to be elevated in the platform. This significantly increases the risk of workers becoming trapped between the platform and the work area. The occupants of the platform are best placed to continually observe proximity to overhead and adjacent structures; therefore, the primary MEWP operator must always be an occupant of the platform and should be trained accordingly. The equipment is designed for trained operators to control the MEWP from the platform controls, not from the ground.

The ground controls are designed for a trained operator and nominated ground person to carry out function checks on their daily inspection(s); they can be used to position the MEWP platform when the platform is not occupied. Ground controls may also be used to effect an emergency decent in case the main platform controls are not functioning, or the primary operator is incapacitated.

Emergency rescue planning must be in place for any MEWP operations being carried out. These must be appropriate to the type of operation and the machine being used. The rescue plan should be communicated to all involved in the operations including the nominated ground persons and anyone acting in a supervisory role. Rescue plans should be understood and also practiced ensuring that they will be effective in case of an emergency and to ensure that those involved know the practical steps involved to safely lower the platform. Remember, there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution to rescue planning, and effective rescue plans are much than just a box-ticking exercise. It is not enough to ask, “is there a rescue plan”? There must be a plan in place, it must be an appropriate and effective response, and all involved must understand and have rehearsed the plan.

A good rescue plan should consider that if a platform occupant becomes trapped between the platform and another structure, then is the person:
  • Entrapped while the platform is elevated? An operator in the platform is best placed to use the primary MEWP controls to move the platform to a better position.
  • Entrapped and incapacitated, unconscious, or otherwise unable to access or use the main controls? In this case a trained operator must assume control of the MEWP from the ground to assist in rescuing the person or persons trapped at height.
  • Entrapped against a building or structure following a MEWP tipped or overturned on the worksite? The nominated rescue person(s) must inspect the MEWP for structural damage before attempting to carry out the chosen rescue plan using either the ground or platform controls.
The circumstances of an entrapment situation can be many and varied; there is no universal response to an entrapment situation, and an adequate rescue plan will always involve sensible planning for all eventualities and be properly communicated to both platform occupants, nominated ground person(s) and those acting in a supervisory role before work commences.

Useful resources www.ipaf.org/resources
  • IPAF Back to Basics campaign
  • IPAF Plan Ahead campaign
  • IPAF Walking the MEWP Toolbox Talk
  • Secondary guarding guidance
  • IPAF Overhead obstructions Toolbox Talk
  • IPAF Rescue procedure Toolbox Talk
  • ISO:21455 – Mobile elevating work platforms – Operator’s controls – Actuation, displacement, location and method of operation
Key Handover Ceremony of First Franna Crane in Delhi by Alpha Services
Alpha Services, the authorized sales and service dealer for Terex Franna cranes in NCR, handed over the first Franna FR17 crane in Delhi to a leading crane hiring company, Shree Ganpati Cranes, Ghevra, Delhi. Owner Krishan Kumar expressed

Read more ...

Vita Industrial’s load stabilization technology to increase efficiency and profitability of crane companies
Vita Industrial’s Load Navigator uses a powerful system of sensors and air thrusters to automatically stabilize loads. The Navigator will be matched head-to-head against taglines, showing how load stabilization can increase

Read more ...

Manitowoc’s total lifting solutions aimed at serving the infrastructure, alternative energy, and industrial end markets
At bauma Munich 2022, Manitowoc showcased a dozen cranes from Grove and Potain, and highlighted its expanded range of support solutions that cover monitoring, parts, service, rental, remanufacturing, finance, and more. The new technologies

Read more ...

Forklift Market: Long Term Growth Trajectory Remains Positive
Maya Xiao, Senior Analyst, Interact Analysis, gives insights on how the Forklift Market is responding to the current geopolitical and economic climate. Forklift shipment growth had plateaued to some extent

Read more ...

Liebherr Showcases First Flat-Top Crane & Luffing Jib Crane with Fibre Rope Technology
The largest addition to the ‘Tough Guys’ series: Liebherr is expanding its EC-B series upwards with the 520 EC-B 20 Fibre. The new flat-top crane with fibre rope and a lifting capacity of up to 20 tons was introduced at bauma Munich

Read more ...

Manitowoc’s total lifting solutions aimed at serving the infrastructure, alternative energy, and industrial end markets
At bauma Munich 2022, Manitowoc showcased a dozen cranes from Grove and Potain, and highlighted its expanded range of support solutions that cover monitoring, parts, service, rental, remanufacturing, finance, and

Read more ...

Comansa presents New LCH300 hydraulic luffing jib crane and Crane Mates– a novel digital solution for fleet management
Spanish tower crane manufacturer Comansa presented its innovative model at Bauma Munich 2022 and its expanded range of luffing jib cranes with the launch of the LCH300, its first hydraulic model, with a maximum load capacity of 16

Read more ...

Zoomlion R-generation Tower Cranes and Green Forklift debut
R220-10S, R90-5RE and other tower cranes tailored by Zoomlion for the European market made a debut and led a new trend at bauma Munich. The R220-10S is a flat-head tower crane based on the future-oriented digital, green, and

Read more ...

TADANO New Crane Models, Technologies, and Solutions
The Tadano Group has expanded its product line, enhanced the Tadano Customer Experience, contributed to community development, and advanced its business activities to protect the global environment. Using the OneTadano concept, the

Read more ...

Enerpac introduces new hydraulic gantry system SBL600
The SBL600 gantry is the latest addition to the SBL-Super Boom Lift hydraulic gantry range. With maximum lifting height of 10.6m, the three-stage telescopic hydraulic cylinder features a foldable boom allowing transportation on standard

Read more ...

Sennebogen machinery is reliable with the latest safety and environmental standards
Displayed at bauma 2022, was the first battery-powered telescopic crawler crane – the 653 E Electro Battery. The new 50-ton battery-powered crane combines the benefits of battery technology with the proven advantages of the

Read more ...

PALFINGER’s Pioneering Solutions
PALFINGER, a leading producer and provider of innovative crane and lifting solutions, demonstrated its comprehensive digitalization competence at bauma Munich. The focus was on three key core topics: Smart Solutions, Smart Services

Read more ...

Fassi Presents 3 Electric Solutions
Fassi’s three solid and operational electric solutions presented at bauma Munich were the SHT and Plug-In systems, and the 'full-electric' truck-crane combination produced in collaboration with Volvo Trucks. Also, Fassi

Read more ...

Bridging the Gap
The importance of understanding work equipment selected for the task in hand. Training providers can only support workers if they understand the risks involved. It’s been more than 30 years of working in the world of safety and I have seen a massive

Read more ...

Geopolitical Climate Creates Perfect Storm for Forklift Manufacturers
Maya Xiao, Senior Analyst, Interact Analysis, gives insights on how and why the current international problems have strained the market. As with almost every industry, supply chain constraints due to Covid-19, coupled with the current geopolitical climate, have created a perfect storm for forklift manufacturers. Our new research has downgraded

Read more ...

Comansa to Present New LCH300 Hydraulic Luffing Jib Crane at Bauma Munich 2022
Spanish tower crane manufacturer Comansa has expanded its range of luffing jib cranes with the launch of the LCH300, its first hydraulic model, with a maximum load capacity of 16 tons and reach of 60 metres. The tower crane manufacturer will officially showcase

Read more ...

Franna Hosts Open Day at Hosur Facility; Showcases FR 17 Pick-n-Carry Cranes and a new prototype for Indian Market
At the Franna India Open Day, the company gave a tour to visitors of its manufacturing processes and products and shared its business plans for the Indian market. On the sidelines of the event, NBM&CW discussed with Kieran Hegarty

Read more ...

Liebherr Cranes Promise Total Cost of Ownership
Liebherr will continue to position its cranes as high premium, value-oriented products in the rapidly evolving Indian mobile and crawler crane market, informs Subhajit Chandra, Head-Marketing, Liebherr Cranes India, while discussing the company’s marketing

Read more ...

Spartan installs Special Elevator to reach the new National Emblem atop the Parliament Building
Prime Minister Narendra Modi stepped into a specially designed elevator that took him straight to the 6.5m high National Emblem atop the new Parliament building. When he unveiled the National Emblem, India celebrated the superb sculpture - a symbol of New India

Read more ...

×
Sign-up for Free Subscription
'India Construction Week'
Weekly e-Newsletter on Construction Industry
Get the latest news, product launches, projects announced / awarded, government policies, investments, and expert views.
Click here to subscribe.