MEWPs: Why near-miss reports are critical to reducing risk

MEWPs risk
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Falls from the platform, electrocution and platform overturns are the most common type of incidents leading to serious injuries and deaths when using mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs) over the past 10 years.

That’s according to the latest Global Safety Report. The International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) compiles the report from analysis of anonymised data collected via IPAF’s Accident Reporting Portal.

In 2012, IPAF began collecting accident data via the portal and now has a database covering 2012-21. This allows IPAF’s experts to compare trends to identify how well the industry is doing in tackling the key causes of accidents involving powered access. Data from the whole 2012-2021 range indicates 4,462 lost-time incidents (LTIs) and 585 fatalities, with reports from 41 countries.

In terms of incidents leading to one or more fatalities, across the full 10 years of available data there are three causes for the most common type of incidents. These are Falls from the platform; electrocutions; and overturns. The sector reporting the most incidents was the powered access rental industry, with 43%. Construction followed with 29% of incidents. Facilities management accounted for just under a tenth of all reports (9.8%).

Don’t Fall For It

Brian Parker, IPAF head of safety & technical, commented: “IPAF’s accident reporting has been going for 10 years. Currently we are receiving around 600 reports a year from more than 40 countries worldwide – a leap forward from where we were in the early days.

“Given what the data is telling us, reducing falls from the platform is a key priority. Hence IPAF’s Don’t Fall For It! global safety campaign, which we hope can make a measurable impact in terms of driving down these incidents in our industry.

“We must also focus on areas where we know we need more data – especially more information about near misses. We are now at a point where we are getting comprehensive reporting of serious injuries and deaths. But we do need more reports of those seemingly innocuous mistakes that might have led to something more serious. The kind where people heave a sigh of relief, but then don’t tell anyone what happened, often for fear of getting into trouble.

“Near misses are vitally important in understanding trends and preventing serious accidents in future. We hope that direct access to the reporting portal from the IPAF ePAL mobile app for operators and supervisors will empower more people to record these sorts of incident – quickly, easily and anonymously.”

Value of reporting accidents

Peter Douglas, CEO & managing director of IPAF, adds: “We really need to challenge ourselves as an industry: Is there more we can be doing to reduce accidents? We need to see more reporting from across all sectors and from as many countries as possible; not least via the ePAL app that provides quick and easy on-the-spot reporting. We hope this empowers operators to report all accidents, as well as near-miss incidents, which often go underreported.”

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