PREPARING FOR SAFE WORKING AT HEIGHT IN MEWPS
To be able to work on a safe altitude, it is necessary to start with a good preparation and a suitable plan. Focusing on the correct procedure prior to operation can help reduce the risk of an accident, while improving operator safety. In this article, we will outline the steps you should take in the planning process.
Every work site contains potential hazards and risks that need to be thoroughly addressed before anyone operates a forklift, such as a scissor or a boom lift. In order to be able to make a comprehensive risk assessment, it should be noted:
- Site survey and risk assessment
- Choose the right person forklift
- Check the human forklift before operating
- Choose personal protective gear
- Check it again.
Site survey and risk assessment
Site surveys must be left to authorized persons. That person is experienced and well-trained. We can advise you on some of the risks that you should be aware of, but most importantly it is still the authority of your company to conduct the actual assessment.
You have an obligation (both legally and ethically) to conduct a comprehensive risk assessment on the job site. This is aimed at identifying and preventing potential risks affecting workers, co-workers and other contractors under construction in the same area. This requires first of all to identify the potential risks and assess the level of risk for each case. Risk assessment must be tailored to different job sites and applications – You cannot apply one in all situations.
Key steps in risk assessment:
- Identify hazards – anything that could pose a hazard.
- Determining who is likely to be injured and how could that accident happen?
- Assess risks and take appropriate precautions.
- Record your findings
- Regularly review the risk assessment log and update it as required when there is a change.
Potential risks to be assessed:
- Pits and shallow holes – includes things obscured by water, ice, mud, debris.
- Roughs, slopes and rough terrain.
- Potholes, sewers, manhole covers, trenches and other dug holes.
- Obstacles on the ground such as boulders, vehicle barriers, rubble.
- Overhead obstructions, trapping or collision hazards, and power cord.
- Hazards from location or atmosphere.
- Load capacity of floor and ground.
- Wind and weather conditions.
- Appearance of unauthorized persons.
- Risk of collision with other machines.
Photo: The forklift is slotted due to the groove cover cannot withstand the load of the device
For forklifts, it is important to consider carefully the possibility of being stuck in the air once the vehicle is lifted. So an important step in risk assessment is to ensure that you always have an emergency rescue plan in place. This includes having people on the ground or working nearby; who have been trained in the use of underfloor controls and the emergency lowering system.
Currently, there are many scissor lifters and boom lifts equipped with a secondary protective device that helps the operator to avoid collisions with overhead obstructions. There may be differences in how these devices work. Therefore, if you identify any hazards from overhead objects, you must understand how these secondary protective devices work as part of the risk assessment.
Especially on the construction site, the surroundings often change. So keep your risk assessment up to date as your surroundings change – contractors or other construction equipment, for example, starts operating in the same work area as your forklifts.
Choose the right person forklift
Site survey and risk assessment will help you choose the most suitable forklift truck to work at high efficiency and safety.
Some questions can be asked such as:
- What will the job be doing?
- Work indoors, outdoors or both?
- What is the desired lift platform load and size?
- How many people will be working on the platform?
- What are the requirements for working height and horizontal reach?
- What is the status of the workplace topography? Flat or rough…?
- Has the operator been properly trained?
- Are there obstacles on the ground or overhead?
- What are the maintenance requirements of the human forklift?
- Is noise pollution and exhaust gas a problem?
Key benefits of choosing the right vehicle:
- Ensure safety for the operator
- Ensure safety for others working on the same construction site
- Complete the work in the most effective way
- Reduce operator stress
- Minimize the possibility of damage to the device
- Minimize potential for property damage
Check before operation
At each end of the shift, an authorized person must conduct a forklift inspection. These persons must be trained in the method of checking the forklift before use.
It is essential to check the functions and visual judgment to assess the condition of the forklift and ensure that the equipment can be safely operated while the vehicle is on the ground and above.
The manufacturer has stated the steps to conduct pre-use testing in the “operating manual”. This is the most optimal checklist to apply because it deals specifically with that device.
Some errors can be detected during the pre-operation test such as: technical malfunction, damaged equipment, lack of safety equipment, …
Some examples of how to check the equipment before operation:
- Verify that the vehicle has an inspection certificate.
- Check operating functions and emergency rescue functions
- Check all safety devices
- Check any protective gear or seat belts.
- Check the device for oil or fuel leakage.
- Check the engine oil / hydraulic oil, coolant
- Check cables and wires.
- Identify missing or loose parts
- Check the tires, wheels and brakes
- Make sure that there are safety decals, signs, warnings, control panel decals and operating instructions
- Check out the expansion stand or similar features to enhance the device’s stability.
- Check the strength and stability of the working floor handrail.
- And any other parts required by the manufacturer.
Always check equipment before operating
Choose personal protective gear
Risk assessment will help you choose the appropriate protective equipment.
However, there will be a forklift specific protective gear, such as a full body seat belt, with adjustable laces. It’s best to wear a seat belt when working on every boom lift – and in many countries it’s mandatory. This is also specified in section 3B of the safety guidelines of the IPAF (International Lifting Equipment Association), which requires a full-body seat belt, with adjustable lanyard.
For boom lift operation, the seat belt must be considered as part of the equipment, so it must be part of the pre-use test of the device.
The final step in the process is a final risk analysis (called last-minute risk analysis). This is a brief risk assessment, conducted by the operator.
The operator should ask himself the following questions:
- Is this place safe to operate forklifts?
- Is the area around me a safe work environment?
- Are my tools and protective gear securing?
- If something happens, can I turn on the alarm signal when something goes wrong?
- Where is the emergency exit?
- Do I know the nearest location for the emergency box and fire extinguisher?
If you cannot answer all of these questions with certainty, you should consult your supervisor before starting any job.
Safety, efficiency and well-being of the workers are improved by using a forklift to work on high. Our motto is to work safely; We encourage and support all of our customers the best safety when working at high altitude with self propelled forklifts.
Vietnam Rental is the biggest forklift rental brand in Vietnam. We are the only representative of Genie forklifts (USA) and Maeda (Japan) spider leg crane company (Japan) in Indochina. With more than 20 years of experience in this field, we confidently consult and provide the most modern and most suitable overhead construction solutions to the needs of customers.
For more information advice, renting a Genie forklift or buying second hand, buying new company’s equipment, contact us immediately to be assured of equipment and quality of service and maintenance:
Hotline: 1900 6553