IPAF co-ordinates mast climber HSE alert response

By Euan Youdale13 May 2022

IPAF is co-ordinating the industry response to the recent UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) mast climbing work platform (MCWP) safety alert, following a meeting of its UK & Ireland MCWP Work Group on 11 May.  

The HSE stated in its safety alert issued earlier this month that some MCWPs, which rely on two independent motor drive units per mast as the means to prevent the platform falling too quickly, are not fitted with suitable and sufficient controls to manage this risk.

MCWP UK & IRE work group IPAF’s UK & Ireland MCWP Work Group. (Photo: IPAF).

This means work platforms could fall from height where mechanical faults in drive units go undetected. If not rectified quickly, the fault could cause serious injury, or even death, says the HSE.

Among the actions agreed at the Work Group meeting was a resolution to urge all users to continue to adhere to a rigorous policy of risk assessment when installing MCWP equipment, which should conform to industry safety standards including EN1495. MCWPs should be subject to recommended maintenance, inspection and thorough examination.

IPAF continues to recommend that installers, demonstrators and operators of MCWPs should be trained and familiarised on the machines being used, and thorough pre-use inspections must be routinely carried out.

Manufacturer meetings 

The MCWP Committee also requested IPAF to convene an urgent meeting with equipment manufacturers, including IPAF members and non-members, with a view to discussing the safety alert and developing understanding of its implications. IPAF will also seek to make collected representations to the UK HSE in order to establish maximum clarity about the safety alert and the ramifications for the MCWP sector.

Angel Ibañez, IPAF’s representative for MCWPs and related products, who convened the meeting, commented, “The meeting of IPAF’s UK & Ireland MCWP Work Group was attended by more than 30 participants and sought to formulate a response to UK HSE BSCD1-2022 issued this month.

“That the meeting was so well attended is testament to the significance and gravity with which MCWP rental companies, manufacturers and equipment end-users in the UK are addressing this safety alert. The group is clear that a co-ordinated response is required, with short, medium and long-term corrective actions agreed.”

Ibañez added, “IPAF seeks to aid and assist all users of MCWP equipment in understanding and reacting appropriately to this UK HSE Safety Alert, to ensure that the sector continues to maintain the highest possible standards of safety. We also wish to assure end-users of this equipment that it remains one of the safest ways to conduct work at height.

“Furthermore, it was resolved that IPAF and its MCWP members stand ready to assist in the urgent review of the relevant industry design and safe-use standards, including both BS 7981 and EN 1495. We acknowledge that MCWP equipment has been subject to a number of technological advances in this past 20 years, and it is important that the relevant standards reflect this.

● Click to review the UK Health and Safety Executive Safety alert: Mast climbing work platforms: Failure to detect mechanical failure in drive units leading to uncontrolled fall of platforms

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