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What You Need to Know Before Operating an Access Platform

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Are you thinking of buying or hiring an access platform, such as a cherry picker or boom lift? If so, there are some things you’ll need to know before you get started.

While mobile elevated work platforms (MEWPs) offer a safer, more convenient alternative to ladders and scaffolding, it’s crucial to learn how to operate them correctly. Ensuring the safety of workers and maintaining productivity on a job site requires proper knowledge and training.

In this article, we’ll share 4 things you need to know before buying, hiring and operating an access platform in the UK.

1. Not All Access Platforms Are Equal

Firstly, you should know that not every mobile elevated work platform (MEWP) is suited to all applications. While they are all designed for working at height, different types of access platforms serve different purposes. For example:

  • Scissor lifts excel in areas with limited space. They are ideal for tasks like indoor maintenance and stock management. However, as they only move vertically, they do not provide much outreach. And while some models can be used outdoors, they are not suitable for uneven terrain or windy conditions.
  • Articulated boom lifts offer more versatility with their extendable arm, providing both vertical and horizontal reach. They are well-suited to tasks like window cleaning, tree trimming and exterior construction work. However, they are not as compact, and cannot be moved around while elevated.

It’s important to do your research and choose the right access platform for the job. This will ensure it is suitable for the job you’re intending to use it for, and can carry it out safely.

2. Reach and Load Capacities May Vary

Along with selecting the right type of MEWP, you should also familiarise yourself with the specifications of your particular equipment.

Scissor lifts, boom lifts and cherry pickers come in a wide variety of makes and models. They each have different limits in terms of maximum vertical reach, horizontal outreach and load capacity (weight). For example, the JLG ES1330L electric scissor lift has a height limit of 5.6m and a weight limit of 227kg.

Before you buy or hire access platforms, you must determine the necessary reach of the task at hand (both vertical and horizontal). Then, choose a model that can accommodate your needs.

Adhering to the safe weight limit is also paramount. Overloading an access platform can result in accidents or damage to the machinery. If you are working with weighty materials, ensure you choose a model that can withstand a heavy working load.

3. Access Platform Operators Must Receive Accredited Training

You should also know that, in the UK, you must receive training before using a mobile access platform. This is in accordance with the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) and the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER).

These regulations do not specify a single course or certification. However, MEWP operator training must be accredited by a recognised organisation such as the International Powered Access Federation (IPAF). This ensures the user is familiar with the equipment and can operate it safely and competently.

IPAF’s training courses cover various categories of MEWPs. Completion of a course results in a PAL Card (Powered Access Licence), which is widely accepted among employers and contractors. Some access platform hire companies may also ask to see evidence of operator training.

4. Regular Testing and Servicing Is Essential

UK law states that all access platforms must undergo regular inspections and maintenance. Before buying, hiring or using a cherry picker or scissor lift, it’s important to understand your legal obligations. According to PUWER and LOLER:

  • All work equipment must be maintained in a safe condition for use at all times.
  • Access platforms must be thoroughly examined before their first use.
  • All necessary precautions must be taken to minimise health and safety risks to operators and others on the worksite.
  • Equipment used for lifting people must be inspected every six months to ensure it is fit for purpose.
  • Inspections and servicing should be carried out by a competent and qualified person.

If you hire an access platform with TAG Forklift Truck Services, we will conduct an initial site visit and recommend the most suitable model for your needs. Additionally, you’ll benefit from regular expert maintenance and servicing to keep your equipment in good working order.

Choose TAG for Access Platform Sales and Hire

We are TAG Forklift Truck Services: suppliers of high-quality access platforms and materials handling equipment. Based in the North West, we work with some of the best brands in the industry, including JLG, Hyundai and Linde.

Our fleet of access equipment includes scissor lifts, cherry pickers, articulated boom lifts and mast lift trucks in a range of sizes and specifications. Whether you’re looking to rent or buy, we pride ourselves on our competitive prices, fast delivery and excellent customer service.

Contact TAG Forklift Truck Services today to discuss your requirements with our helpful team. Fill in our online form or call us on 0161 848 0555.