Daisy Foster considers changes to the Working at Height regulations which have ensured that employers are now legally compelled to provide full training for any workers who use powered access equipment.

The changes to the Working at Height regulations in 2005 made it compulsory for employers to provide full training for any workers who use powered access equipment.

“Last year more than 50,000 platform operatives were trained at our extensive network of accredited training centres across the UK,” says Tim Whiteman, managing director of IPAF (International Powered Access Federation). IPAF was set up 22 years ago and exists to promote the safe and effective use of any powered access equipment that raises someone to any height to carry out work.

“Training has been developed by manufacturers and rental members of IPAF, and during a session users are given an insight into topics such as legal requirements, how to (and how not to) use these machines, and emergency systems. Those who successfully complete a course are awarded a safety guide, logbook, certificate and a PAL Card (Powered Access Licence),” he says.

“The logbook must be filled out and signed after each job to document operator experience, and the PAL Card is accepted by the Major Contractors Group (MCG), and across industries. The courses last one or two days, and cover both theory and practice ' there is also management training available.” Tim explains that although the controls for powered access units might seem simple, they do vary from model to model.

“These units are very safe, but only when used correctly, and one operation that moves the boom or bucket upwards in a particular unit, might move it down in another. There is also an additional risk with boom type platforms if, for example, the boom is hit by a passing vehicle (particularly in LA applications where there is often passing public traffic), or the ground gives way, the operative can be catapulted out of the bucket.

“People often think that harnesses are compulsory in case the user falls out of the unit, but in fact they should be warned to prevent this catapult effect.”

The Clunk Click campaign

This is one of the reasons that a worldwide campaign to encourage users of boom type platforms to wear a full body harness with a short lanyard has been launched this year.

Clunk Click was started in the UK by the Powered Access Interest Group (PAIG), a joint committee of the Construction Plant-hire Association and IPAF, and calls on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), manufacturers, hire companies and main contractors to support it in order to save lives. “The PAIG initiative came from companies frustrated with the fact that fatal accidents happen unnecessarily because operators are not following the simple advice in IPAF's technical guidance note H1,” says Tim.

Over 30,000 Clunk Click posters, sponsored by hire companies, have been printed, and a set of three different sized stickers for boom lifts has been designed. IPAF has printed enough small stickers for every boom in the UK, and they are available free of charge. Sticker sets at a subsidised price of 19p can be ordered from Atlantic Coast Studios on 01271 374209, and companies who wish to print their own versions can obtain artwork from www.ipaf.org.