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Safety advice notice: 50
October 2016

Brian Parker, our Business Development Manager, Technical Support, is the sub group Chairman of IPAF's 'Spread the Load' working group, which is working under the direction of the IPAF UKCC (UK Country Council).

He has now been tasked with updating the IPAF guidance to bring clarity and standardisation to the industry.

His work will also involve ensuring that the guidance also considers wheeled and tracked MEWPs.

Brian Parker discusses how to safely load / unload a MEWP.

The activity of loading / unloading and transporting MEWPs onto plant trucks and trailers has long been considered a hazardous task in the MEWP industry. Most HGV drivers are trained in their role and will recognise the potential hazards and risks but unfortunately, not all.

With this in mind, approximately 3 years ago IPAF (International Powered Access Federation) started to collate voluntary accident / incident data anonymously from their members. This eventually led to IPAF making accident / incident reporting mandatory and is now a condition of its membership.

IPAF now have around 2 years of comprehensive accident / incident data and this has identified that HGV drivers present the greatest risk when carrying out their duties, which has now led to existing training courses being updated and new guidance being produced.

Loading Fatality

The below incident is a stark reminder of the dangers involved in loading / unloading operations and unfortunately led to the loss of the life of father of three, Paul Williamson.

The HSE investigation found that Mr Williamson, 51, died on January 29th 2014 when the tracked MEWP he was loading onto the vehicle came off and landed on him killing him. The loading process involved him using a remote wander lead to control the tracks (drive/steering/brakes) of the MEWP.

During the investigation it was found that Mr Williamson:

  • Had not been adequately trained in the use of the vehicles ramps, the truck or the tracked MEWP which he was operating.
  • There was no risk assessment in place for the activity (crucial to identify the hazards and risks and develop suitable control measures)
  • There was no safe system of work for the activity
  • The gradient of the ramps were found to be greater than the manufacturer’s specification (Mr Thewall had been informed of this previously but chose to ignore it)
  • The ramps had not been secured properly to the truck.

Kenneth Thewall, a company director of Thorn Wharehousing was jailed for 12 months in August 2016 following the death of Mr Williamson. Thorn Warehousing was fined £166,000 and ordered to pay £10,400 costs, but it is unlikely to be paid as it has since gone into administration. Thewall was also disqualified from being a company director for seven years.

HSE inspector, Helen Jones said, “He was involved in the day to day running of Thorn Warehousing and should have ensured the company provided Paul Williamson with the right equipment and training to carry out his job. Had he done so Mr Williamson would still be alive today.”

"This case should act as a stark warning to all company directors of their personal responsibility to protect their workers’ health and safety and the tragic consequences when they fail."

This HSEQ Bulletin is also a timely reminder of changes made to sentencing guidelines for offences concerning health and safety, corporate manslaughter, food safety and hygiene that came into force on 1st February 2016. At the time of writing these changes have been in force for 8 months and are showing a significant increase in the levels of fines imposed.

These guidelines also apply to offences committed before that date and regardless of whether any harm was actually caused... quite simply, the potential for harm to be caused is punishable The courts are now also required to assess the overall seriousness of the offence based on the offender's culpability and the risk of serious harm.

The guidelines also state that any fines imposed must be sufficiently substantial to have a real economic impact. This will bring home to both management and shareholders the need to operate within the law.

Key points:

  • Loading / Unloading considered to be a hazardous task
  • IPAF have made accident / incident reporting mandatory
  • Many dangers involved in these tasks
  • If loading / unloading, ensure safe system of work is put in place, and precautions are taken beforehand
  • Consider the guidelines and sentencing guidelines, is it worth it?