Incidents involving MEWPs, mast climbing work platforms, and hoists, continue to occur on construction sites each year, with The IPAF Global Safety Report 2023 saying there were 759 reports in 2022 from 34 countries. These saw 831 people involved in incidents, and 102 deaths. Willmott Dixon says falls from a mobile platform remain the most common cause of incidents resulting in major injury or death.
The company added: “The 2021 version of the same IPAF report said that of the 132 fatalities using MEWPs, mast climbing work platforms and hoists, 35 per cent involved not wearing a harness. In the ‘3b/1b’ MEWP categories, falls from height were responsible for over 55% of major or fatal injuries.”
To tackle this – as part of its safe working at height strategy for mobile platform operators – Willmott Dixon has teamed up with Nationwide Platforms, which has have developed a system called Harness ON. It works by requiring anyone operating a ‘3b’ Boom type MEWP to wear a full body harness with a lanyard that connects to a specific ‘intelligent anchor point’ within the MEWP’s basket. Willmott Dixon explained: The Harness ON system prevents the MEWP basket controls from operating unless the operator’s harness lanyard is correctly attached to the anchor point.”
Harness ON is now mandatory, meaning that only ‘3b’ MEWPs with the new system installed can operate on a Willmott Dixon project. The construction company and fit-out specialist said: “This is to reduce to zero the chance that an operator using a MEWP could fall to the ground because they have not connected their harness correctly. Importantly, this device doesn’t affect any ground or emergency lowering controls.”
Chief Health, Safety & Environment officer at Willmott Dixon, Mark French explained: “I think we are the first Tier One contractor to mandate this system across our business and supply chain. Safeguarding the health and wellbeing of our supply chain team on our construction sites is paramount, and this is an excellent new way for those who use MEWPs to carry out their work.”