Construction News

Wed October 27 2021

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Coronavirus advice for powered access users

13 May 20 The International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) has produced advice for users of mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs), mast-climbing working platforms (MCWPs) and construction hoists on how to minimise the risk of spreading coronavirus.

Among the recommendations is a ‘one operator per platform’ rule to maintain social distancing. IPAF therefore expects site managers to hire in more machinery than before.

All organisations need to prepare a risk assessment of Covid-19 to ensure machinery can be used and work undertaken while maintaining social distancing. The guidance covers social distancing and safety/hygiene requirements which aim to reduce the risk of infection to all personnel involved.

IPAF Covid-19 Safe Operating Guidance is centred on a hierarchy of risk, with guidance on how to mitigate possible exposure to the virus to help protect employees, colleagues, customers and users of powered access equipment.

The hierarchy is ranked from eliminating risk entirely, through reducing risk, isolating users from risk and controlling risk, to protecting against risk through use of personal protective equipment (PPE).

IPAF chief executive Peter Douglas said: “Ours is an industry founded on the principles of safe working and adopting best practice through sound risk assessment and mitigation. There’s an increased risk at present posed by the spread of coronavirus and we must do everything we can to eliminate, reduce, control or protect against it.

“Powered access equipment is key to conducting work at height safely, the services our members provide are of vital importance on construction sites, maintenance and infrastructure projects around the world. If powered access firms can’t do this work, projects will be hampered and safety while working at height could be compromised.

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“Governments and economies are currently looking to ease some of the restrictions imposed to halt the first wave of infections, but we appreciate it will not just be back to ‘business as usual’ while the risk of contracting this virus remains heightened. Therefore we have issued what we feel is a comprehensive set of guidelines for operating safely in light of this elevated risk, with sensible advice about how to identify risk, maintain social distancing and workplace hygiene, and use of additional PPE.

“While back-office staff may be able to work remotely and IPAF training candidates can take some or all of their course via eLearning, there is guidance for IPAF training centres on how to maintain social distancing for those who must attend in person, for instance to complete a practical assessment to obtain or renew a PAL Card.

“On construction sites, enhanced risk assessment, cleansing of machines, use of additional PPE such as face masks and visors, and using extra machines to allow a ‘one operator per platform’ rule to maintain social distancing are all recommended. If contractors need to hire additional machines, it’s important to only ask trained and familiarised operators to use the equipment and for work to be adequately supervised.”

He concluded: “As an industry powered access is all about safety, so while the challenge facing us should not be underestimated, with proper planning, robust risk assessment and common sense measures to minimise the chance of spreading the virus and protect all employees, this issue can be managed. If you have any queries about this or any other safety and technical matter, please contact your nearest IPAF office or representative.”

To view IPAF's Covid-19 Safe Operating Guidance click here

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