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Safe loading and unloading

28 October 2016

Slightly over a third of MEWP-related incidents reported by UK rental companies involve delivery drivers. What are the most common pitfalls to avoid and how can delivery drivers keep safe?

Almost a million deliveries or collections of mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs) take place each year on UK sites. Delivery drivers play a vital role. They are probably the only face and actual contact point between the rental company and the end-user on site. Any incident involving drivers during delivery and collection of a MEWP has the potential to be serious and could also affect contractor relations and site operations.

Recent data collected from IPAF UK rental company members has increased focus on the risks to delivery drivers. Since January 2013, all IPAF UK rental company members are required to report all MEWP-related incidents involving their own staff to the IPAF accident reporting database (www.ipaf.org/accident). Analysis of the 2014 data confirms some trends identified from the previous year and highlights specific situations that involve a significant proportion of drivers.

A total of 428 incidents involving MEWPs were reported by rental companies in 2014. Of these, 35.5% (152) involved delivery drivers and 24.5% (105) involved engineers. Operators, including contractors, truck-mount operators and employed operators, were involved in 28.7% (123) of the incidents reported.

A majority of the incidents (44.2% or 189) took place on site, with another 25.7% (110) occurring in the depot/yard, 13.6% (58) occurring in the workshop and 11.2% (48) occurring on the public roadway. The most common types of injury incurred were cuts and bruising of the upper limb, lower limb and head.

Most of the incidents involving delivery drivers occurred during loading and unloading (48.7% or 74 of 152). The main causes of driver-related incidents were identified as insecure load (18) and the machine falling off between ramps (14). Closer analysis of the incidents caused by insecure load revealed that these were mainly due to the canopy becoming detached from the MEWP during transport (9 of 18 cases). Almost all the machines that fell off between ramps (11 of 14 cases) were small electric machines (mobile verticals, 3a). 

Andy Access

The latest safety campaign from IPAF featuring the characters Andy Access and Hugh Hazard drums home basics on the safe use of mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs) in a simple and direct way.

The situations highlighted in the posters were all based on findings from IPAF’s accident reporting project (www.ipaf.org/accident). They are aimed at addressing the most common causes of MEWP-related fatalities around the world, as well as the most common causes of non-fatal MEWP-related incidents reported by UK-based rental companies.

Join Andy Access and Hugh Hazard on their journey through MEWP safety. Free poster artwork can be downloaded at www.ipaf.org/andyaccess

Most of the incidents involving engineers occurred during maintenance (66.7% or 70 of 105). The main causes of these engineer-related incidents were identified as using hand tools (21) and slips/trips (16). Closer analysis of the incidents caused by using hand tools revealed that these were due to using hammers (6 of 21 cases). Almost half of the slips/trips happened whilst walking (7 of 16 cases).

Most of the incidents involving operators occurred when the MEWP was being operated from the platform controls (51.2% or 63 of 123). The main cause of these operator-related incidents was identified as lack of observation and failure to check the route, i.e. colliding with stationary objects while driving on unfamiliar sites. 

If you have MEWPs on site, ask yourself: Are you doing enough? Have you had any load or unload accidents? What do you cover when training your drivers? There is a clear need for action and IPAF can help through its training programmes and technical guidance.

The findings from the accident reporting project are being used by IPAF to improve its course on loading and unloading MEWPs. This is currently a one-day course specifically aimed at drivers delivering MEWPs, but the key lessons are relevant to anyone managing or supervising these operations and those loading or unloading general types of equipment.

As the management duties and responsibilities for loading and unloading on site are important aspects for site management, this subject is also covered in the IPAF MEWPs for Managers course.

IPAF working groups are currently drafting several good practice guides relating to drivers and the management of safe loading and unloading of MEWPs:

  • Guidance to identify the responsibilities of contractors, rental companies, transporters and drivers when planning and carrying out loading/unloading activities
  • Guidance for loading and unloading MEWPs on the public highway
  • Guidance on operating MEWPs on public highways

These documents will help clarify exactly what is expected of different parties in the delivery/load/unload process. IPAF is producing straightforward, realistic guidance for the industry that will ultimately help reduce accidents. Join us and make the industry safer! Resources on this subject are at www.ipaf.org/load