Elevated Work Platforms (or EWPs) such as boom lifts, vertical lifts and scissor lifts are designed to enable construction workers to safely access and work at great heights. Rather than, for example, having to sit on an unstable roof whilst they fit shingles and run the risk of falling through or slipping off said roof, they can instead carry out this task from the secure, steady platform provided by a cherry picker.
In this manner, EWPs can drastically reduce a labourer's chances of sustaining a serious injury. However, EWPs do come with their own risks, and it's important for those who intend to hire this type of equipment to do what they can to minimise the dangers associated with its usage. Here are two ways to do this.
Only allow qualified workers to use EWPs
One of the most important aspects of safe EWP usage is ensuring that only those with the appropriate level of training and qualifications are allowed to operate this kind of equipment.
A construction worker who holds an EWP licence will not only have an in-depth understanding of the safest operational methods, but they will also know how to conduct essential pre-usage inspections and how to quickly identify and address hazards that they come across whilst using an EWP, so as to minimise the risk of an injury or fatality occurring. For example, a person who has undergone extensive EWP training will be more conscious of overhead hazards, such as power lines, which could potentially lead to electrocution or a serious fall.
Be aware of the impact of weather conditions on safe EWP operation
The weather conditions should always be taken into account before an EWP is used, as strong winds, heavy rain and lightning all have the potential to create a hazardous work environment.
A gust of wind, for example, could easily lead to a worker losing their balance and falling off the work platform onto the ground. Likewise, if a thunderstorm occurs, there is a chance of the person using an EWP being struck by a lightning bolt and getting electrocuted.
Heavy, persistent rainfall is perhaps one of the most dangerous types of weather in which to operate an EWP, particularly if the equipment is being used on non-compact soil, as the rainwater could soften the ground even further and thus create an unstable surface, which could cause the EWP to topple over. In such conditions, it is generally better to relocate to firmer ground (i.e. concrete or asphalt, for instance) if possible, or halt work until it stops raining. In some instances where work must continue even during periods of heavy rain, steel plates can be placed underneath the EWP to create a stable ground surface.