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HSE issues safety alert for those operating mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs)

23rd June 2014

The UK Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has issued a safety alert which advises that “covers/shrouds on machine controls do not protect against entrapment of operators between the machine and nearby obstructions”. (Click Here)

The HSE alert also directs duty holders to two industry guidance documents that may be used in assessing and reducing the risk of entrapment or crushing accidents when operating mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs):

  1. The Strategic Forum for Construction Plant Safety Group’s Guidance
  2. IPAF’s Guidance on Secondary Guarding Devices

The alert was based on the HSE’s review of seven fatal accidents involving MEWPs in which operators were crushed. In five of the accidents, the operator was crushed between an overhead obstruction and a cover/shroud fitted over the controls of the machine.

The alert further states that: “HSE acknowledges that it is not possible to conclude that the accidents involving shrouds would have been prevented if those machines had not been fitted with shrouds. Nevertheless HSE wants to share the conclusions of its review with those responsible for the selection of MEWPs (and secondary guarding devices) where there is a risk of entrapment and/or crushing of the operator.”

The alert calls for the following actions:

  • Duty holders should assess the potential for entrapment/crushing accidents in MEWPs for the specific tasks they are to undertake. In making the assessment and deciding on appropriate safeguards, they should consider the issues described in reference 1.
  • Where a secondary guarding device (see reference 2) is required, it should be selected for the specific application and its limitations should be clearly understood by those who will be using the machine.
  • Covers/shrouds for machine controls should not be relied upon to reduce the risk of entrapment/crushing more generally.