IPAF concerned that Balfour Beatty has misinterpreted trapping accident statement.

By Maria Hadlow23 May 2008

Having participated in a working group which focused on trapping accidents, Balfour Beatty has issued a document about the procurement and operation of MEWPs (mobile elevated work platforms) which IPAF (International Federation of Powered Access) feels is misleading.

Together with a number of other businesses and organisations IPAF and Balfour Beatty formed a working group to investigate accidents attributed to operators of MEWPs being trapped against the platform controls.

The working group has issued a statement explaining which, if any, features should be fitted to a MEWP to avoid theses "trapping accidents". Input was provided to the working group by IPAF, Health and Safety Executive, Balfour Beatty, the Powered Access Interest Group, Powered Access Certification and the Construction Confederation.

Balfour Beatty has subsequently issued a document, Balfour Beatty Policy & Background Information - Procurement & Operation of MEWPs (Issue 1- April 2008), which references IPAF in a way the federation believes is misleading.

IPAF says that the Balfour Beatty information interprets the working group's statement as a retro-fit proposal which was not the intention. This is a misinterpretation of the purpose of the statement and IPAF is currently communicating with the working group members to clarify the situation. IPAF has also issued recommendations relating to the Balfour Beatty document and is currently in communication with the company in order to try to resolve apparent differences in interpretation of the work that they undertook together.

IPAF's members warn against unauthorised modifications to CE-marked MEWPs and do not endorse a blanket recommendation for retrofits. This will be unnecessary for many models and can be dangerous if carried out incorrectly. If companies have any questions about the need for a retrofit they should seek advice from the manufacturer.

The Balfour Beatty Information also proposes safety measures that should be applied to MEWPs on Balfour Beatty worksites to prevent accidents attributed to the sustained involuntary operation of controls. While IPAF says that it supports any initiative that makes MEWPs safer it is concerned about the modification of CE-marked MEWPs without the manufacturer's agreement. It should be noted that the modifications suggested are likely to invalidate the manufacturer's CE mark. IPAF urges anyone considering the modification of a CE-marked MEWP to contact the manufacturer and/or relevant notified body before planning such modifications.

IPAF members are requested to advise IPAF's technical officer of any situations in which they are being asked to retrofit equipment or apply modifications to MEWPs.

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