Working at height. Beware of ‘general training’

These days, electric scissor lifts are an essential part of any lifting equipment company’s kit. Used in warehouses, distribution centres, and on construction sites large and small across the UK, scissor lifts, cranes and cherry pickers have all but replaced the ladder as the preferred choice when it comes to working at height in both indoor and outdoor settings.

Using modern mobile lifting gear has its own risks of course, but – when used properly – can be a boon for operatives in the workplace, who should perhaps be taught not only how to use it (in compliance with industry regulations) but also in how to keep it in good working order, to obviate breakdowns and avoid productivity downtime.

Ladders: the last resort?
Before greater importance was placed upon workplace Health & Safety (back in the day, when the ladder was king), injuries, and even deaths, from falls were common in myriad working environments. Far from being the last resort at warehouses, factories, foundries, and distribution centres, ladders were often first choice – the only choice, in truth – when it came to accessing high areas.

With powered access not being an option years ago, operatives literally had no choice: get up that ladder, son; and be quick about it. Thank goodness, then, for powered access’ eventual arrival, and for increased emphasis placed upon workplace Health & Safety; with non-compliance around working at height resulting in heavy financial penalties for some errant companies, and, in the most severe cases, even temporary or permanent business closure.

Protect your staff, by being informed
All companies across the UK (world-wide, in fact) need to be aware of Health & Safety regulations, with training in using and maintaining working at height equipment always being provided by qualified professionals; and that includes scissor lifts, cranes, hoists, pulley systems, cherry pickers, and even basic forklift trucks.

Whether you’re buying new or secondhand, or when you’re perhaps leasing equipment for a short period, find out what the rules are: come away knowing exactly what to do and what to absolutely avoid. Yes, you may be told that the leasing company bears the burden for all its hired out gear’s industry compliance, but the onus is upon you, the customer, to use the equipment in the correct manner.

Ultimately, of course, it’s not about trying to avoid financial penalties: it’s about keeping your workers safe.

Don’t accept ‘general training’
Begin by arranging a site survey. Many equipment leasing companies will do this without charge at the outset, and that way you can get the right machine; be that a scissor lift, scissor lift table, cherry picker, other type of mobile elevated work platform, or a telescopic boom lift. Look to see if the leasing rep can talk about the gear in an informed and confident way, and ask when the equipment you’re considering leasing was last given a service. Don’t accept anything but well-maintained modern machinery, and insist that training provision from qualified operators is specific to the particular equipment that you need, not ‘general training’.