Elevating work platforms: a key part of height safety

Elevating Work Platform Association of Australia
By James Oxenham, CEO of the Elevating Work Platform Association (EWPA) and the Hire and Rental Industry Association (HRIA)
Monday, 23 October, 2023

Working at height is a common requirement in the construction industry, but it can also be a dangerous task for anyone who is not properly trained or prepared. The last thing anyone wants is to see a colleague or employee seriously injure themselves as a result of unsafe practices, which is why it’s critical that all employees practise height safety when working in these conditions, writes James Oxenham, CEO of the Elevating Work Platform Association (EWPA) and the Hire and Rental Industry Association (HRIA).

Industry-wide, many companies choose elevating work platforms (EWPs) to ensure construction workers can access heights safely during various phases of construction. While hiring an EWP is a safe and secure way to work from heights, it remains equally important for each and every worker using these tools to understand what they can do to keep themselves and their co-workers safe.

What are the advantages of hiring EWPs?

One of the most effective ways to enhance height safety in construction is by choosing to hire EWPs. First and foremost, these tools provide access to some of the most cutting-edge technology and design features, helping workers access safe, modern and efficient equipment purposely designed for people working at heights.

Hire companies also carry the responsibility of maintaining and servicing their EWPs in accordance with Australian standards, offering their customers reliable and well-maintained equipment that meets the highest safety standards. This minimises the risk of accidents that occur due to equipment malfunctions.

From a safety standpoint, hiring EWPs is a good choice. Not only can it potentially provide a more economical option, but it enables employees to access some of the most up-to-date equipment available, rather than running the risk of using out-of-date or poorly maintained machines.

The importance of training

While the advantages of hiring EWPs contribute significantly to height safety in construction, adequate training still remains vital for anyone who is working at height. This is why the Elevating Work Platform Association (EWPA) offers its Yellow Card course designed to provide comprehensive training and assessment for EWP operators. This course covers a wide range of topics, including risk assessment, inspection and maintenance, safe operation and emergency procedures.

Proper training not only equips workers with the knowledge and skills to operate EWPs safely but also instils a culture of safety within the organisation. It helps to ensure that workers know how to react in the event of an emergency and minimises the risk of accidents due to operator error. Just like any other machinery training, completing a Yellow Card course is one of the best ways to ensure that organisations and employees are operating in the safest manner while using EWPs. Site managers also play an important role once the operators have been trained to operate EWPs and several factors need to be considered, such as risk assessments, machine selection, safe work method statements, verification of competency and supervision.

The power of collaboration

Promoting height safety in the construction industry is a shared responsibility. Collaboration between organisations plays a vital role in disseminating safety messages and resources. The EWPA collaborates with a variety of stakeholders, including the Australian Constructors Association, Crane Industry Council of Australia, Working at Height Association, state and territory regulators, unions, fleet owners, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), engineers, Standards Australia and the International Standards Organisation.

These collaborative efforts are essential in pooling resources and expertise to develop and implement safety standards. Regular communication ensures that all stakeholders are on the same page, promoting consistent safety practices across the industry. This commitment to collaboration also allows for the sharing of best practices and the development of innovative safety solutions that improve safety across the industry as a whole.

With so many construction workers required to operate from heights, it has never been more important to promote height safety techniques industry-wide. At the end of the day, height safety is not just a responsibility; it’s an investment in the safety, wellbeing and peace of mind of construction professionals.

The Elevating Work Platform Association (EWPA) is a not-for-profit association and the peak representative body for the specialised access industry throughout Australia.

Image credit: iStock.com/RyanJLane

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