Top Tips for Working Safely at Height During the Winter

Top Tips for Working Safely at Height During the Winter

The UK weather is unpredictable at the best of times, Winter, even more so. Conditions can deteriorate in a moment’s notice and bring with it additional risks, so it’s essential to take extra care and attention.

Whilst working safely with Mobile Elevating Work Platforms (MEWPs) is crucial in any weather condition, it’s especially important when working in cold weather, when there are additional risks to consider. The freezing temperatures, icy surfaces, and reduced visibility can make operating MEWPs more challenging and hazardous. However, with the right knowledge and precautions, and a proper plan in place, working at height in the freezing weather need not be a daunting task. In this article, we will provide you with our top tips for working safely at height during the winter.

The importance of working safely with MEWPs

Working safely with MEWPs is not only a matter of compliance with regulations but also crucial for the well-being of operators and the overall success of the project. Accidents and injuries can lead to delays, increased costs, and more. In cold weather conditions, these risks are amplified due to the potential decrease in equipment performance and stability.

By following the recommended safety precautions and best practices for working with MEWPs in cold weather, operators can minimise the chances of accidents and ensure the safe operation of these machines. This includes conducting thorough inspections before operating the equipment, ensuring proper training and certification for operators, using appropriate personal protective equipment, and maintaining clear communication with team members.

Understanding the risks of working with MEWPs in cold weather

Understanding the risks of working with MEWPs in cold weather is crucial for maintaining a safe work environment. The freezing temperatures can have several detrimental effects on both the equipment and the operators. One of the primary risks is the formation of ice on the platforms, controls, and guardrails, which can cause slips and falls. Additionally, reduced visibility due to fog, snow, or sleet can make it difficult for operators to manoeuvre the equipment safely. The freezing temperatures can also affect the functionality of the MEWP’s hydraulic and electrical systems, leading to potential malfunctions. By being aware of these risks, operators can take the necessary precautions to mitigate them and ensure safe operation in cold weather conditions.

Steps to take while operating MEWPs in cold weather

1. Clear all hazards

Clear snow and ice: Before operating the MEWP, thoroughly remove any snow or ice from the platform, controls, and other essential areas. Snow or ice build-up can cause slippery conditions and interfere with the proper functioning of the equipment.

2. Regularly check equipment

Throughout the operation, regularly inspect the MEWP to ensure that all functions are working properly. Keep an eye out for any signs of mechanical issues or freezing components and take immediate action to address any problems.

3. Pre-heat diesel equipment

Before starting work, remember to engage the pre-heat system for around 25-30 seconds and then allow the machine to warm up for at least 10-15 minutes. This will reduce the chances of a breakdown and help prevent any issues caused by the cold temperatures.

4. Maintain proper visibility

Poor visibility can lead to accidents and hinder the operator’s ability to safely manoeuvre the machine. For machines that are operated from inside a cab, ensure all windows and mirrors are clear of ice and snow before operating the machine.

5. Adjust operating practices

In cold weather, it is important to adjust operating practices to compensate for the reduced performance caused by the low temperature. This may include reducing the load capacity, slowing down movements, and maintaining a safe distance from obstacles.

Things to take away

Working with MEWPs in cold weather presents unique challenges that require attention to detail and proper precautions. By following the tips outlined in this blog post, operators can ensure the safe and efficient use of MEWPs, even in freezing temperatures.

Remember, proper maintenance and care play a vital role in the longevity and performance of MEWPs. Regular inspections, protection from extreme temperatures, and adherence to manufacturer’s guidelines are crucial. Equally important is providing operators with the necessary training and knowledge to handle cold weather conditions safely.


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