IPAF (International Powered Access Federation) have used the latest analytical tools to calculate accidents in the workplace caused by working at height and have concluded that MEWPs (Mobile Elevating Working Platforms) are one of the best and safest ways to work at height on jobs which do not require permanent scaffolding to be assembled. Using a proper piece of equipment is clearly always the best plan, and training and information dissemination has begun to make a real difference in safety levels, with a decrease in fatal injuries since 2014.

In calculating their results, IPAF considered several factors, including the estimated rental fleet size. This figure is extrapolated from IPAF market reports and is considered to be an accurate estimate. Also considered is the average utilisation of the fleet; this is calculated by estimating how much of the fleet is out at any one time, calculated over a year.

The working week and working year length is assumed to be five days over fifty weeks. Against these figures, the number of fatalities involving MEWPs per year is calculated, using the IPAF accident reporting project. This results in an accurate assessment of the relative safety of the equipment.

It is important to use the figures against the days worked, as raw numbers can be misleading. The fatalities worldwide in 2013 numbered 68 and in 2014 it came to 64, which is a significant reduction anyway, but taken against the number of days worked (168.4 million in 2013 and 182.4 million in 2014) the deaths per 100,000 days worked is calculated as 0.040 and 0.035 respectively, a very good result. Worldwide figures of other accidents and fatalities are also considered, so that the relative safety of MEWPs can be assessed.

Different countries use different methodology but by taking a wider view, a good picture emerges of a safer working environment worldwide. Falls from heights using other equipment are higher across the board, making MEWPS a sensible choice for any task which means that a worker needs to be temporarily at a height.

One thing that is impossible to estimate when considering safety data is the training given to staff and this can’t be emphasised enough. Training given in the safe use of MEWPs is available from Boss Training and is IPAF accredited. Courses for staff who only use MEWPs occasionally are very important and are often overlooked, but with courses for managers and workers alike, any company can be sure that everyone is as safe as they possibly can be.

Refresher courses are also invaluable because it is only human nature to forget things that are not often accessed or, more frequently, for people to become a little blasé about methods they use day in and day out. In either case, timely reminders either from a training course can quite literally save lives. The more people in any environment who are aware of safety procedures the better when it comes to working at height.