Jet2 has been operating for over ten years under that name, although it has been in the air under different livery for over thirty five years. Based at Leeds Bradford Airport originally, it now has bases at Manchester, Belfast International, Blackpool, Edinburgh, Newcastle, East Midlands, Glasgow and also Alicante in Spain. As the company grew, it was quickly apparent that there was a need to train staff when they were working at height whilst cleaning and repairing aircraft in the hangars. Boss Training were asked to visit the site and make an assessment of training needs and it was pretty obvious from the start that this was a unique situation.

Bespoke Boss Training Courses

Working at height and particularly using a mobile elevating working platform (MEWP) inside a building carries specific risks and so Boss developed a bespoke safe working at height training course for Jet2 to ensure that all staff are up to date with all the latest Health and Safety Executive guidelines especially those which cover their particular working situations. These courses have now been delivered at the main airports where Jet2 operate from and are aimed at everyone involved in the aircraft cleaning and maintenance; both engineers and hangar staff, both airside and hangar side.

A Great Partnership

When two busy companies find each other to their mutual benefit, it is always a good day and Jet2 and Boss enjoy an excellent working relationship. Boss are IPAF affiliates and deliver IPAF training and IPAF MEWP for managers training courses to all kinds of companies, in the construction industry but also to anyone needing first class and specific training in any aspect of working above ground level. On average, fifty people a year are killed in the UK as a direct result of falling from a height and this is clearly fifty too many. Accidents are not always the result of human error but by providing good levels of training and topping up regularly, this number could be cut by an enormous margin. Jet2 staff are asked to work at a height daily – even the underside of a plane is high off the ground – and so the company decided that their training had to be of a high quality and also needed to take into account the extra risks that come with working around an aircraft in an indoor space – crushing injuries being a situation which must be borne in mind in particular. Boss’s reputation as delivering good quality training that is well tailored to the employee base was what drew Jet2 to them and they have never looked back.

Not All MEWPs Are the Same

Mobile elevating working platforms come in many different shapes and sizes and all have specific training aspects. There is so much to consider when using a MEWP and falling out is probably the least of the operator’s worries. Essentially, a MEWP should be considered to be just like any other moving vehicle, with the problems that entails such as hitting something, being crushed against an obstacle, going out of control and all the other risks as well as being up in the air, sometimes a very long way up in the air! Training on the actual piece of equipment that a person will be using is a huge advantage and this is why the bespoke approach is so much more useful, because employees are not being asked to learn in a vacuum and then take away their knowledge and apply it elsewhere. They are being taught in situ and this is also a help to the trainer, who can see first-hand whether the right things are being covered and adjust as needed on the spot.

Training Starts with Taking Care

Even fully trained staff should be encouraged to keep a checklist to hand before they even step on to a MEWP to begin their day’s work because after a while, things become a bit automatic for anyone. If you have ever gone shopping and wondered halfway round the supermarket whether you have switched the iron off, you are familiar with this problem. The difference with missing out a vital safety check before using a mobile elevating work platform is that you won’t simply end up with a scorch mark on the ironing board – you could die and also potentially injure others. Human beings are almost pre-programmed to be distracted. Our bird brains are not really wired to screen out whatever else is happening around us and so extra steps have to be taken to make sure that whoever is operating the MEWP keeps their mind on the job whilst still being subliminally aware of other hazards. This isn’t easy, but it helps to ban radios, mobile phones and chat while the MEWP is being used because these things can be easily controlled.

Additional Things to Watch For

Many MEWP training courses are designed for use outside, such as ‘cherry pickers’ used for tree or outdoor wire work. Using them indoors brings an extra hazard to bear – in other words, ceilings and walls, but in the case of Jet2 and other aircraft companies, the underside of the plane and the wings. Crush injuries can be as catastrophic as falls and although often not fatal they can be permanently life changing. Most MEWPs have guards and bars to prevent these kinds of problems but they have to be fitted separately and correctly – as with any safety precaution, they are only as effective as their operator and fitting a guard incorrectly can create more problems than it solves. Including this in training is vital and this is where the all-inclusive training programme is so useful, because it might be the job of someone on the ground who will never actually use the MEWP at height to assess risks and fit safety equipment as required. The lesson from all accident reports is that there is no such thing as too much training and Jet2 and Boss are working together to create safe environments for everyone using a MEWP whether in the hangar or airside.