Avoiding the Dangers of Low-Level Working Platforms
Working at height can date back to ancient Greece in the 5th century, when scaffolding was first illustrated in drawings that showed it to be made from wood secured by rope knots. Since then, working at height has advanced to aluminium towers and mobile elevating working platforms (MEWPs).
Low-level work platforms have a variety of uses, from maintaining production equipment in manufacturing environments to installing fire alarms and replacing lighting. They are mostly utilised indoors, however they can also be used outside, depending on the weather conditions. For any task that is just out of reach, low-level access equipment would be the forerunner, with a maximum height of 2.5m.
Parallel to growing demand, progressively more people are underestimating the dangers with access equipment, more specifically low-level working platforms.
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), there are almost as many accidents involving low-level working platforms as there are involving high-level working platforms.
Fatalities can be a consequence of failing to conduct pre-use checks and inspections. A simple process to carry out these checks would be by using straightforward checklists. Undertaking pre-use checks will identify any hazards prior to using the equipment. Omitting components, an unsecured base, and unlocked wheel castors (aluminium towers) can be fatal to individuals if they’re not identified before use.
Using equipment incorrectly poses an immediate danger. Despite being relatively low in height, if operators overreach or climb over guardrails, this can result in slips and falls. Operators should remain behind the guardrails along with not overloading the platform to exceed the maximum weight or block the passageway. Otherwise, the platform will be top heavy, having the potential to overturn.
Standards and Regulations
In 2005, the Working at Height Regulations were implemented with the aim of preventing death and injury caused by a fall at height. Employers have a duty to ensure that any working at height is planned, supervised, and carried out by competent individuals. Employees have a duty to take care of themselves and others whilst following the health and safety requirements of their company.
BS 8620 is the British standard for low-level work platforms. The one working platform must have side protection for use by only one person with a maximum working height of less than 2.5m. The maximum working load is 150kg. The standards set out the requirements for low-level access equipment and provides guidance on dimensions and components.
With an estimate of one million companies, and 10 million workers carrying out work that involves some form of working at height, these regulations and standards must be followed to guarantee the safety of individuals.
Remain safe and vigilant, even when working at a low height. Individuals must ensure they are planning thoroughly before using low-level working platforms by conducting a risk assessment. Always evaluate the potential risks and put measures in place that will prevent falls, objects falling, or anything else that could cause harm or injury.
Seeing that individuals remain compliant with the standards and regulations, such as BS 8620 and the Working at Height Regulations, will help them stay safe. In turn, preventing risks that will lead to fatalities. The information is there to help employers, not hinder them.
Operators need to show competence by successfully completing the relevant training. This is fundamental to their safety. Without knowledge or awareness, mistakes are likely to be made which can be detrimental to themselves and others. Other benefits of providing your employees with training includes a boost in productivity, reduced employee turnover, and improved morale.
Ensure all employees have gone through the correct training
We offer a wide range of both IPAF and PASMA access training related to working at heights, including the PASMA Low Level Access Training course for all experience levels. Delegates who successfully complete this course will obtain the knowledge and awareness needed to remain safe whilst using low-level working platforms.
For further information, guidance, or support about low-level working platforms, contact our team.