MEWPs: Why An Emergency Rescue Plan Is Vital
Consider the possible consequences if you are working at height in a Mobile Elevating Work Platform and you became injured or ill? Would you have the knowledge to rescue yourself and would people on the ground be available and trained to safely lower the platform if you were unable to?
It is therefore vital that a rescue plan is in place. Information in such a plan should include the following:
- Following manufacturers' instructions, the ground key for the MEWP should be left in the base unit where practicable, or at least be quickly available at ground level if not.
- Whilst a MEWP maneuver is taking place at least one designated ground rescue person should be appointed who knows the rescue procedure and is familiar with the MEWP being used (including emergency rescue controls). They should always be readily available in an emergency.
- Decide who should effect the rescue and how: this depends on the complexity of the operation and therefore the relative risk of effecting a rescue from the ground compared to the risk of an operator, possibly in a state of panic, trying to rescue themself.
- A system must be in place to identify that an operator may have become trapped, particularly for lone workers operating close to overhead structures. Operators must take advice if such a system has not been put in place when a risk of entrapment is present.
The order of priority when carrying out a rescue should be:
- Operator: the operator, or other competent people in the basket, should try to rescue themselves by re-tracing the steps they took in reverse order.
- Ground staff: if visibility and understanding of the situation from the ground are good, ground staff should effect a rescue using the ground controls in the following order:
auxiliary power at first which gives the slowest and most controlled maneuver of the boom until it is obvious that the basket is clear of any obstructions at height.
powered descent: once clear of obstructions, switch to powered descent to increase the speed of recovery.
- Another MEWP: In some situations using another MEWP to gain access to the platform may be the safest option. This will only be acceptable if such a rescue has been planned and includes means of transferring between platforms which prevents anyone falling.
We run a number of IPAF training courses that cover emergency rescue plans. To find out more, contact us on 0330 3116661.