THE REAL PERILS OF WORK­ING AT HEIGHT

The most com­mon safety process ig­nored by AWP con­trac­tors is in­vest­ment in con­tin­u­ous ed­u­ca­tion

PMV Middle East - - EDITOR’S BRIEF -

AWPS are recog­nised as the safest means of work­ing at height. With in­crease in the ap­pli­ca­tions of AWPS, the safety as­pects and ef­fi­ciency of AWPS over al­ter­na­tive work­ing at height so­lu­tions are be­ing widely recog­nised across in­dus­try sec­tors.

The global rental mar­ket for AWPS is boom­ing, ac­cord­ing to the lat­est mar­ket anal­y­sis from the In­ter­na­tional Pow­ered Ac­cess Fed­er­a­tion (IPAF). At the end of 2017, the world­wide rental AWP fleet size reached an es­ti­mated 1.35 mil­lion units, com­pared to 1.25m es­ti­mated at end 2016 – a year-on-year in­crease of around 8%.

Erect­ing scaf­fold­ing or hir­ing AWPS are not so­lu­tions by them­selves to work­ing at height. Or­gan­i­sa­tions in­volved in work­ing at height face huge safety and skill gaps all over the world in­clud­ing the Mid­dle East. Slips, trips and falls are among the most com­mon causes of work­place in­juries and are also the most likely to re­sult in deaths. In ad­di­tion to op­er­a­tors hav­ing qual­i­fi­ca­tions to erect scaf­fold­ing or op­er­ate AWPS, they need to im­prove their com­pe­ten­cies and fa­mil­iar­ity with ma­chines to en­sure site safety.

Ac­cord­ing to Paul Rankin, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, Mid­dle East and In­ter­na­tional, Rapid Ac­cess, the knowl­edge part­ner of this spe­cial re­port, the most com­mon safety process ig­nored by con­trac­tors is the in­vest­ment in con­tin­u­ous ed­u­ca­tion. He points out that knowl­edge about best prac­tices or ap­pre­ci­a­tion of work­ing at height should not be lim­ited to peo­ple work­ing on sites. They must be ini­ti­ated and driven from the top down.

Op­er­a­tor com­pe­tency is re­quired not only for safe use and oper­a­tion of equip­ment but also to de­ter­mine the risks as­so­ci­ated with work­place en­vi­ron­ments and their im­pact on the equip­ment and find ways to min­imise such risks. Op­er­a­tors tend to be un­aware about per­form­ing site-spe­cific risk as­sess­ments for AWPS. Gen­er­ally, they don’t have suf­fi­cient un­der­stand­ing about suit­able ground sur­face con­di­tions, se­lect­ing the cor­rect type of fall pro­tec­tion for dif­fer­ent AWP mod­els and then how to use the adopted fall pro­tec­tion so­lu­tions, over­head haz­ards dur­ing oper­a­tion of AWPS, us­ing emer­gency low­er­ing sys­tems, crit­i­cal dif­fer­ences be­tween oper­a­tion of dif­fer­ent mod­els, and AWP op­er­a­tor re­spon­si­bil­i­ties in re­la­tion to pre-use in­spec­tions.

There’s con­sen­sus that adopt­ing ad­vanced tech­nolo­gies, em­brac­ing change, util­is­ing and analysing big data and most im­por­tantly re­ly­ing on a skilled and highly en­gaged and en­er­gised work­force are all key to a suc­cess­ful and sus­tain­able busi­ness model and en­hanc­ing safety in the pow­ered ac­cess rental mar­ket.

The IPAF also aims to ad­dress the chal­lenge of how AWP man­u­fac­tur­ers can help re­design the work site of the fu­ture to in­crease pro­duc­tiv­ity and safety at the same time. Some of the key fo­cus ar­eas of IPAF’S three-year strate­gic plan (2018–2020) are iden­ti­fy­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties to ex­pand with the AWP in­dus­try into new coun­tries to share good prac­tice; cre­at­ing ca­reer paths for peo­ple em­ployed in the in­dus­try, from

PDI cour­ses through to fully qual­i­fied spe­cial­ist AWP tech­ni­cians, in­clud­ing the de­vel­op­ment of other op­er­a­tor cour­ses such as for tele­han­dlers; and de­vel­op­ing and im­ple­ment­ing a strat­egy to op­ti­mise the use of vir­tual re­al­ity (VR), sim­u­la­tors.

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