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Sun July 03 2022

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HSE issues mast climber alert

5 May The Health & Safety Executive has issued a safety alert warning of a serious technical fault on some mast climbing work platforms (MCWPs).

Users and owners of MCWPs are warned to ensure that undetected mechanical failure in drive units cannot lead to the uncontrolled fall of the platform.

Platforms could fall from height where mechanical faults in drive units go undetected, the HSE warns. If not rectified quickly, the fault could cause serious injury, or even death.

The alert requires those involved in MCWP activities to check that MCWPs comply with Regulation 4 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. It includes advice on detection and prevention of potential failure where MCWPs rely on two drive units per mast as the means to ensure safety.

Mast climbing work platforms, also known as mast climbers, are used as an alternative to traditional scaffolding to provide access via an elevating platform attached to the side of a building. They are comprised of a powered platform attached to one or more vertical masts. The mechanical drive units are on the masts.

HSE has discovered that some MCWPs that rely on two independent motor drive units per mast, as the means to prevent the platform falling with overspeed, are not fitted with suitable and sufficient controls to manage this risk. If not rectified quickly, the fault could cause serious injury, or even death.

Failures in drive units can be such that neither the centrifugal brakes (intended to limit the speed of descent) nor the automatic brakes (intended to engage when powered travel is stopped) within the drive units are able to have an effect.

MCWPs with necessary control measures in place need to be withdrawn, HSE, said, until those responsible for supply, installation, use, inspection, servicing, maintenance and for thorough examination of MCWPs ensure that:

  • there is the means to identify a loss of mechanical integrity in each drive unit where this is the system to prevent falling with overspeed
  • each individual drive unit is fitted with a mechanical device, such as a centrifugal brake, that automatically prevents the work platform descending at excessive speed
  • damage to drive units due to platforms being powered onto buffers/base frames is prevented
  • platforms and associated equipment are not damaged by physical overloading
  • thorough examinations, inspections and tests, and visual and functional checks are appropriately planned and carried out.

The full safety alert can be found at www.hse.gov.uk/safetybulletins/mast-climbing-work-platforms-mechanical-failure.htm

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