As part of our safety series, we’re eager to support businesses like yours to ensure workplace health and safety. For workers and supervisors on building sites, in warehouses, and in a range of industries, staying safe around Elevating Work Platforms (EWPs) is key when it comes to this piece of high-risk equipment.
Appropriate training for working at heights and operating EWPs is central to this, but what about the other hazards workers need to be aware of in their everyday jobs?
Common Hazards around Elevating Work Platforms (EWPs)
Following safe work practices around EWPs is the first step to ensuring workplace health and safety, but what else should your team be risk-aware of?
#1 Unsafe EWP machine set-up
Avoid any risks by ensuring the EWP has been inspected and function tested before using it. Check the maintenance and inspection records and logbook for this.
Similarly, before moving and operating an EWP, a risk assessment should be undertaken to check for unstable or uneven ground conditions, overhead obstacles (like trees or electricity lines) or other hazards that could develop into a safety issue for the operator.
Vehicles, pedestrians, and fixed structures are also common risks when operating EWPs. Potential hazards from the weather can include lightning, high winds and rain, which can all cause the EWP to be unstable and should not be operated through.
#2 Improper operator PPE
Boom type EWPs are hazardous to operate and can result in serious fall injuries, which must be safeguarded against. Regulations dictate the correct PPE that should be worn by EWP operators to protect against falls when working at heights. Ensuring full harnesses and restraints are worn and secured correctly is essential.
#3 Moving around unsafely on the EWP
Operators should not sit, stand, or climb on the platform railings and especially should not attempt to climb down off the platform when it is raised. Working safely on an EWP involves keeping a firm foothold and ensuring 100% tie-off when entering and exiting the platform.
#4 Platform trip hazards
Keeping the platform floor free from debris and other trip hazards such as buckets, toolboxes or other materials is necessary for ensuring safety on the EWP as even a small misstep could escalate into a serious incident.
Additionally, any loose objects on the platform can become hazardous falling objects. Although EWP should not be used above people or structures, preventing this can be minimised by ensuring a safe, obstacle-free platform. If objects are necessary for use on the platform, ensure an exclusion zone around the EWP as well as a fall suspension below the EWP to catch any equipment if it were to fall.
#5 Expired or uncompleted EWP Training
Even an experienced and confident EWP operator needs to ensure up to date training for working on an EWP or other machinery at height. Both theory and practical training are important for your employees to thoroughly understand and be confident in ensuring safety around EWPs.
What Training Do You Need for Working on EWPs?
Staying safe around Elevating Work Platforms begins with the EPWA Yellow Card. This is the industry license for working around and operating EWPs, from vertical and mast lifts to scissor and boom lifts. This training covers all the hazards highlighted in this article, plus how to safely set up, operate and secure EWPs.
At Kallibr Training (RTO 32365), we offer numerous EWP training courses, including working on booms over 11m. You can explore your options for EWP training here. Whether you are a new or experienced operator, EWP training is essential for working on high-risk elevated platforms.