Sending our workers home safely

16 Sep 2019
Sending our workers home safely

Worksafe NZ recently reported on a North Island company that was fined over $300,000 after a workplace incident on a mobile elevating work platform left a worker permanently paralysed from the neck down.

The worker had not been trained to use the equipment he was operating, nor was he wearing a restraining harness. Both of these are requirements in the Best Practice Guidelines for Mobile Elevating Workplace Platforms.

While highly useful pieces of equipment, Mobile Elevating Workplace Platforms (MEWP) are very complex in both their construction and operation and are often used in hazardous areas. It is always important to identify and assess hazards and put control measures in place, but this is especially vital when MEWP are in use.

MEWP operators must be trained and competent before using the equipment, including following manufacturer instructions and only ever using the MEWP within its specified limits.

Hazard management is essential and should always follow a set process:

  1. Identify any hazards: This can be by physical inspection, task or process analysis or by reviewing previous hazards.
  2. Assess the hazard: Ascertain the significance and opportunities for serious harm.
  3. Control the hazard: Either by eliminating, isolating or minimising it. This includes selecting the right MEWP for the task at hand.
  4. Monitor the hazard: Keep workers updated.
  5. Maintain all safety documentation and work plans.

Every Kiwi worker has the right to return home safely and in one piece at the end of each day. And the responsibility for making this happen rests with both employers and workers; we all have a part to play in ensuring the equipment we use is safe and well-maintained, that the people operating the equipment are correctly trained and that we are speaking up in situations where things may not be as they should be.

Our MEWP and safe working at heights/harness courses ensure workers are sufficiently trained to perform use the equipment safely, in accordance with the MEWP Code of Practice. Courses are available in Auckland, Christchurch, Hamilton, Palmerston North, Papamoa and Wellington, or we can run courses at your worksite using your equipment.