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RESEARCHERS DOUBT MEWP TRAINING EFFECTIVENESS

HSE commissioned research questions comprehension of ‘entrapment’ risk

HSE has carried out a programme of research projects focused on MEWPs in order to provide a better understanding of some of the issues involved and to help work towards their improved and safer design and operation.

The work detailed in Research Report RR960 Mobile elevated work platforms Phase 3 aimed to capture MEWP end users knowledge in relation to the key risk factors for entrapment/crushing whilst operating MEWPS, using insights gained from their experiences of near misses/incidents. 

Key messages identified by researchers

The researchers identified the following Key Messages which are the opinions and/or conclusions of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect HSE policy.

  1. Knowledge – critical knowledge gaps have been exposed by this research, in particular where end users have explicitly stated that certain issues are not risk factors for entrapment, yet these have been identified as such by subject matter experts.
  2. Comprehension– mobile elevated work platform (MEWP) training is not fully effective in instilling the right knowledge, both offsite (MEWP training courses) and onsite (inadequate risk assessments, vague emergency procedures, lack of refresher training, lack of toolbox talks and low awareness of the “Best Practice Guidance for MEWPs”). Cumulatively, this may be an indication of industry’s lack of comprehension of the risks of entrapment.
  3. Training interventions – this lack of knowledge should be addressed by interventions, for example, enhancing the MEWP training courses and calling for contractors to address the lack of toolbox talks. Particular focus should be placed on the risk factors for entrapment that subject matter experts agree are most critical. A recommendation to achieve this would be to ask industry experts, for example the International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) safety forum, to produce a risk ranking of the critical knowledge gaps, which can then be reflected in a MEWP training programme. It is recommended that additional support be specifically targeted at individual trades where critical knowledge gaps were evident.
  4. Standardisation – there is a lack of standardisation in MEWP control systems design, so that there are safety critical differences in control functions between MEWP manufacturers, and also differences between models within the same manufacturer.
  5. Familiarisation – End users suggested ways to improve MEWP design, which demonstrates the importance of effective worker involvement. In the long term, changes should be put in place to establish a standardised MEWP design. In the mean time, an implication for this identified lack of standardisation and consequent negative transfer of learning effect is the necessity for improved on-site familiarisation processes.
  6. Relevance – although this research has been focused on the risk factors for entrapment, the implications will be of wider interest and may be common for other risk factors, such as overturning

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