IPAF has recognised that it needs to take emergency action after the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) discovered technical flaws in a type of machine within its purview.
HSE issues a safety alert earlier this month* relating to the risk of mechanical faults in the drive units of mast-climbing work platforms (MCWPs).
Angel Ibañez, IPAF’s representative for MCWPs and related products, convened a meeting of UK owners and users of mast climbers on 11th May to formulate a response to the HSE alert, which had been issued just six days earlier. Despite the short notice, 30 people attended the meeting.
“That the meeting was so well attended is testament to the significance and gravity with which MCWP rental companies, manufacturers and equipment end-users in the UK are addressing this safety alert,” he said. “The group is clear that a co-ordinated response is required, with short, medium and long-term corrective actions agreed.”
Among the actions agreed by the meeting was a resolution to urge all users to continue to follow a policy of risk assessment when installing MCWP equipment. MCWPs should be subject to recommended maintenance, inspection and thorough examination.
IPAF continues to recommend that installers, demonstrators and operators of MCWPs should be trained and familiarised on the machines being used, and thorough pre-use inspections must be routinely carried out.
The MCWP committee also requested IPAF to convene a meeting with equipment manufacturers to discuss the safety alert and its implications. IPAF will also seek to make collected representations to the UK HSE in order to establish maximum clarity about the safety alert and the ramifications for the MCWP sector.
Angel Ibañez added: “IPAF seeks to aid and assist all users of MCWP equipment in understanding and reacting appropriately to this UK HSE safety alert, to ensure that the sector continues to maintain the highest possible standards of safety. We also wish to assure end-users of this equipment that it remains one of the safest ways to conduct work at height.
“Furthermore, it was resolved that IPAF and its MCWP members stand ready to assist in the urgent review of the relevant industry design and safe-use standards, including both BS 7981 and EN 1495. We acknowledge that MCWP equipment has been subject to a number of technological advances in this past 20 years, and it is important that the relevant standards reflect this.
“IPAF and its members can offer significant technical expertise in respect of the use of MCWPs; we emphasise our collective commitment to assisting the wider industry to respond proactively to this UK HSE Safety Alert. All machines must conform to relevant design and engineering standards and good safety practice should be adhered to at all times when using this equipment.”
* Health & Safety Executive Safety alert: Mast climbing work platforms: Failure to detect mechanical failure in drive units leading to uncontrolled fall of platforms, Bulletin number: BSCD1-2022.