Your Safety Checklist for Operating Access Equipment

Your Safety Checklist for Operating Access Equipment

Often there’s no way to complete certain tasks without the use of height access equipment. The journey doesn’t stop at choosing the right access equipment. Once you’ve made a decision about what access equipment you plan to hire or buy, you need to be diligent with running through all safety considerations, and should never operate machinery until you’ve done so. 

If you aren’t sure you know everything to check, we’ve compiled this checklist to make it easier. (This list is not exhaustive, and any Elevated Work Platform (EWP) training you complete will provide a full list of safety considerations and checks.)

So let’s have a look at what you need to know and do to operate height access equipment you hire or buy safely.

#1 Be trained and hold a yellow card

For those operating the EWP:

It’s essential that anyone operating an Elevated Work Platform (EWP) is appropriately trained in the use of that equipment, and holds a yellow card before operating the height access equipment.

The yellow card training program provides training in the safe use of elevated work platforms including boom type EWPs with boom length under 11 metres. 

Participants of the yellow card program must complete modules appropriate to the type of EWP they’ll operate. Modules include:

  • Vertical Lift (VL)
  • Scissor Lift (SL)
  • Self Propelled Boom Lift (BL)
  • Trailer Lift (TL)
  • Truck Mounted Lift (TM)
  • Advanced Boom (AB)

If you, or your employees, will be required to operate numerous types of EWP, ensure you/they complete all relevant modules.

What’s covered in the yellow card training program?

The program provides participants theoretical knowledge and practical skills in:

  • Hazard identification, risk assessment and controls
  • Fall arrest harness inspection, fitting and use
  • Identifying safe operating parameters using data plate and manual
  • Conducting pre and post operational checks
  • Operation of the EWP
  • Emergency procedures.

At the end of the program, there’s a theory assessment and practical observation and demonstration.

For more information on the yellow card program, see our blog post Do I need a yellow card or scissor lift licence? Or check the EWPA website.

Onsite workers:

Working in the vicinity of a mobile elevated work platform poses risks, and surrounding staff should be aware of all potential hazards, conduct regular safety checks, and maintain constant vigilance. It’s recommended that personnel working near to an EWP complete Occupational Health Services Australia (OHSA) certified training. 

Those transporting EWPs:

It goes without saying that anyone transporting equipment to and from a worksite should hold a valid drivers’ licence.

#2 Conduct pre-selection checks (confirm equipment is fit for application) 

Before you source your access hire equipment, it’s important to do an assessment of the job required (what loads do you need to carry, where do you need to carry them to?), the site itself (will the EWP be used indoors or outdoors, what are the surface conditions, and are there suspended surfaces?) etc. This assessment should be conducted by anyone responsible for the safe use of the equipment, prior to selection of the EWP. (See the Safety Resources page on the EWPA website).

There’s a pre-selection checklist that forms part of the EWPA’s EWP Safe Use Information Pack that you can use for this pre-selection assessment. It includes information to assist in the planning process of using the EWP in relation to application, site conditions, operator competence/training requirements and hazard evaluation. 

Pre-selection checks relate to:

  • EWP size (height, reach etc) - Is this EWP adequate in terms of height and reach? 
  • Rated capacity - Can the EWP adequately support the required number of personnel (including an operator), tools and equipment? 
  • Load dimensions - Is the EWP large enough to carry the intended load inside the platform or on approved load carrying attachments, e.g. pipe racks?
  • Indoor use (fully enclosed flat surface) - Is the EWP appropriate for indoor use? (Electric slab terrain EWPs are most suitable indoors. Engine drive EWPs may be used, but exhaust fumes must be considered and assessed.)
  • Outdoor use (wind rating 12.5m/s minimum/slope to be determined) - Is the EWP rated for outdoor use, with min. 12.5 m/s wind rating?
  • Hard, level surface e.g. concrete, asphalt etc (minimal slope) - Do you need an EWP suited to a slab, or does it need to be suited to rough terrain?
  • Soft surface, rough terrain or sloping surface - Is the EWP designed for rough terrain and does it have suitable gradeability?
  • Suspended surfaces - What’s the static wheel load of the EWP and the maximum floor loadings? Check with the supplier and the responsible engineer respectively. 
  • Hot work - Is the EWP platform suitable for hot work, if such work is required? (Gas cylinders must not be carried in fully enclosed baskets.)

Use of fall arrest systems and fall restraint devices - These are mandatory on boom type EWPs, and they must meet certain standards.((i) Manufactured in accordance with AS/NZS 1891.1 2007: Industrial Fall Arrest Systems & Devices: Harnesses and Ancillary Equipment, and; (ii) Maintained in accordance with AS/NZS 1891.4 2009: Industrial Fall Arrest Systems).

#3 Conduct pre-acceptance equipment checks

It would be foolish to hire or buy access equipment without confirming that the equipment is in ship-shape order. Getting equipment to your work site and then finding out you can’t use it only wastes time, and time is money. So it’s essential you check over any access hire equipment you plan to use, before you accept it.

Whoever is responsible for the safe use of the equipment in the relevant workplace when the EWP is supplied must:

  • Ensure the EWP has been correctly maintained
  • Check for damage
  • Check equipment inspection tags
  • Check specifications on how and where equipment may be used
  • Check operator’s manuals, logbooks, decals (labels), and that owner maintenance has been conducted.

Again, the EWPA has a checklist for performing equipment inspections prior to accepting for use (see PART 2 - PRE ACCEPTANCE SECTION of the EWP Safe Use Info Pack). This information helps users identify that the individual EWP supplied to the workplace has been designed and maintained to relevant Australian Standards and regulatory requirements.

Note: It’s also important to ensure the EWP is well-secured to any vehicle it’s being carried or towed on, before it is transported to the worksite.

#4 Conduct pre-operation equipment checks

After equipment’s accepted for use, operators must conduct a pre-operation equipment check.

The full list of checks is included in the EWP Safe Use Info Pack (see PART 3 - PRE OPERATIONAL INSPECTION CHECKLIST). (NOTE: This checklist is a copy of the ‘Operator Daily Safety Checks‘ in the logbook that comes with the EWP. The logbook itself must be filled out prior to using an EWP in the workplace). 

Pre-operation checks are conducted at different stages, and include the following checks.

  • Before checking/operating the machine: battery checks, and checks of manufacturer’s operating instructions.
  • Pre-start checks: There are 14 pre-start checks (we won’t run through them all here) including checks on the condition of the machine itself, condition of tyres (inflated/not-inflated), fuel checks, safety checks on platforms and handrails, PPE checks, and more.
  • Operational checks - machine started: There are 9 checks that include checking operation when the platforms/booms are at different heights, checking lights, alarms, and more.
  • Faulty equipment procedure: this includes equipment tagging (adding ‘do not operate’ tags), advising supervisor and equipment owner of fault(s), recording fault(s) in the logbook provided with the EWP, and more.

#5 Understand how to operate the EWP

Despite completing yellow card training, which includes both practical and theoretical learning and assessment, you may still need further coaching in the operation of certain types of access hire equipment. 

The time to ask questions about access equipment is at the point of hire or sale. If you still have questions after this time, most equipment hire companies are more than happy to answer questions on use when the equipment’s delivered to your site. There’s also information available in the EWP operation manual, and information online under that brand and model of EWP.

The important thing to do is to conduct all pre-operation checks before using the equipment, as this usually irons out any issues related to using the equipment, before you start the actual job.

Importantly, it’s inadvisable to attempt certain tasks if you are not sure how to operate the machine in a safe manner. So always check instructions, ask questions, complete all the pre-checks, and speak to site managers if you’re unsure.

#6 Conduct appropriate safety checks

There are numerous factors to consider when it comes to operating EWPs safely. These don’t all revolve around the equipment itself, but also around checking surrounding areas.

Yellow Card training will cover the safety issues you need to consider. You will also need to complete the Site Hazard Evaluation Guidance section of the EWP Safe Use Info Pack (see page 3) when using an EWP.

There are also EWP Safety Guidelines and Information Sheets available on the EWPA website. Items covered include:

  • Interference Effects Using Radio Transmitters in MEWPs
  • Safe use of Battery Charging and Power to Platform leads
  • Inspection & Testing of Harness Anchorage Points
  • Working Over Water
  • The Effect of Wind & Side Forces
  • Tyre Degradation on MEWPs
  • MEWPs with Outriggers on Inclines
  • Policy on the use of Fall Arrest Systems
  • Avoid Trapping / Crushing Injuries in MEWP
  • Preventing Operator Entrapment
  • Avoiding Trapping / Crushing Injuries to People in the Platform
  • Distance from Power Lines
  • The Consequences of Operating EWPs on Soft Ground
  • Carrying Equipment in Work Platforms

The list above is not exhaustive, and there are many more items covered. (You can see that there is a lot to think about when it comes to safely operating EWPs.)

In addition to this list, some factors regarding workers should be considered.

  • Do your workers have appropriate PPE for the equipment being used?
  • Is a spotter required when using the equipment?
  • Are your workers fit to operate the EWP (ensure they are not under the influence of any drugs or alcohol)
  • Have you held a toolbox talk with all personnel involved, and discussed emergency procedures?

#7 Understand emergency procedures

There are emergency procedures that apply to any type of access hire equipment you use. It’s important that all workers working with or near the equipment understand these procedures. These include things like qualified personnel being able to retrieve the platform using the controls at ground level, and/or the Emergency Retrieval System being available in the event of an emergency (e.g. loss of normal power or incapacitation of the operator).

For access hire in Melbourne, emergency procedures are included in the WorkSafe Victoria Elevating Work Platforms guide (Part 5 - Emergency Procedures). Other states will have similar to identical procedures.

Auslift Height Access Hire Melbourne

Auslift has over 30 years of experience with access hire equipment in Melbourne, and we now provide access hire equipment all around Australia. Our industry experts can provide professional advice on any questions you may have about hiring or buying height access equipment or elevated work platforms. Submit an enquiry today, or give us a call 03 9702 7977.