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MEWP controls finally standardised

22 Apr 20 The design of the controls in mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs) are set to all become broadly the same following the publication of a new international standard.

IPAF has been instrumental in developing the new standard
IPAF has been instrumental in developing the new standard

The new standard ISO 21455:2020 standardise the actuation, displacement, location and method of operation of MEWP control.

It is the result of 10 years of development, led by the UK-based International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) with the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Work to produce a new standard started in 2010 when the HSE became concerned about MEWP entrapment and control design. There had been a spate of incidents involving operators crushed between the control panels and overhead beams. The HSE research resulted in the reports RR960 and RR961 being published in 2013.

It also built on research first undertaken by IPAF into how MEWP controls might be standardised across different brands and models to improve safety.

Following the publication of the reports, the HSE and MEWP manufacturers began discussions through IPAF's Manufacturers’ Technical Committee (MTC) and the USA’s Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM). This resulted in the creation of the Manufacturers of Elevating Work Platforms Council (MEWPC), which became the MEWP Industry Manufacturers Group (MIMG).

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Development of  ISO 21455:2020 was a result of crushing incidents
Development of ISO 21455:2020 was a result of crushing incidents

The outcome of this collaboration was a proposal in 2015 to develop an international standard for MEWP control performance, location, marking and method of operation, which has resulted in the release of the new ISO standard this month.

As part of the standard development process, a research project led by IPAF and the Austalian Elevating Work Platform Association (EWPA), a simulated MEWP platform with a multi-position control panel was taken to construction sites and industry events. Operators of varying experience took part in a research exercise using the control panel. The resulting data was used by the standard's development committee, ISO TC 214 Working Group 1, as they determined joystick controller orientation relative to the work platform floor.

IPAF chief executive Peter Douglas said: “This unprecedented co-operation between global MEWP manufacturers, trade associations and the UK HSE resulted in the new MEWP control standard. It shows how important IPAF’s committees are in driving forward standards globally and it is gratifying to see this project moving to fruition and improving the safety of MEWPs by standardising the controls.”

IPAF North American manager Tony Groat, who is a member of ISO TC 214, added: “I believe this standard provides new language that can impact control designs to improve the operator’s intuitive direction of motion based on the position of the control panel- tilted towards or away from the operator.  I am optimistic that this standard will immediately influence MEWP manufacturer’s and country design standards in their next revisions.”

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