Using MEWPs (Mobile Elevated Work Platforms) safely and efficiently

Any MEWP operator must be concerned with safety - from the machine itself, to the people working or otherwise in the vicinity. The machine must be operated within its specified limits, and safety devices must not be interfered with or ignored.

But, more than taking adequate precautions while at work, MEWP operators must have received adequate training for the type of machine they are going to use and be able to prove it.

The legislation covering MEWP operation is the Health & Safety at Work Act, 1974, and Regulation 9 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER). Employers who fail to provide appropriate staff training may be liable to prosecution, which can result in heavy fines and, in extreme cases, even imprisonment. Part-time operators require the same training as full-time operators, and you will find that hire companies will insist that they only hand over a MEWP to a trained operator or someone who has attained demonstrator standard.

The standard for MEWP training

What kind of training is best? We recommend a qualification that is awarded by an internationally recognised body, and is recognised by the MCG (Main Contractors Group). Look for certification such as those offered by IPAF that conform to ISO 18878:2004 (Mobile elevating work platforms - Operator (driving) training). The best courses will ensure you comply with all current legislation.

Look for a course that awards a card showing your qualifications, gives confirmation of the holder's identity and which categories of MEWP they are qualified to operate. Some training companies offer to enter trainees who have successfully completed the course on a national database.

The right kind of qualifications do not expire, although most employers write the need for refresher courses into their Health & Safety documentation.

Choose the right course

Courses are available for a range of different machines, including:

  • Static Vertical Personnel Platform (1a) - compact vertical platforms that are often used in interior or confined spaces
  • Static boom, Trailer Mounted (1b) - lightweight, highly manoeuvrable and versatile all-rounders which can be pushed by hand and are built on to a trailer
  • Static Boom Truck/Van Mounted (1b) - versatile work platforms built on to a non-HGV truck
  • Mobile vertical platforms (3a) AKA scissor lifts - ideal for interior use. Provides a large platform area and can be driven while the platform is raised
  • Self-Propelled Boom (3b) - used inside or outside, these machines can driven with the platform raised. Extra out reach gives additional versatility
  • Spider (1b) - a versatile machine with multiple outrigger settings

Codes in brackets are the IPAF category for the training and shows which categories of MEWPs you will be registered to operate.

Skills taught should include pre-start and running checks, emergency procedures, operating the control, and manoeuvring the MEWP in situations with limited access.

You should be sure that the course is appropriate to the kind of MEWP being used, as training on one kind of platform is not transferable to another - laying the individual and the company open to prosecution.

Facelift are the largest independent access hire company in the UK and offer MEWPs training to IPAF standards.

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