100 ways to fall from height: #1 Work from a telehandler without assessing the risks first

Assess risks when working on a telehandler

It is important to assess all risks before carrying out any work at height. However, two companies failed to do that after a contractor was killed by falling from a telehandler.

What happened?

A self-employed contractor was working at height, on a telehandler, with a co-worker, when the machine hit a fence. When moving away, the telehandler basket jerked, throwing both operators over its edge. Unfortunately, one of the contractors had not been clipped onto the telehandler basket: he fell to the ground and died.

Avoid this by…

  • Conducting a proper risk assessment. The companies responsible for the work should conduct a thorough initial risk assessment. They should take into consideration all potential risks related to this task, such as:
    • selecting the correct work platform
    • if using a telehandler:
      • how the telehandler travels and how it is set up
      • potential overloading of the vehicle and its speed
    • the terrain and general condition of the working ground
    • wind and weather
    • any potential collision dangers
    • PPE
    • the level of training of the workers, and more.
  • Consulting the manufacturer’s instruction manual and other safety notices. All operators must be familiar with the configuration of the mobile elevating working platform, control functions, manufacturer’s warnings, safety features (such as tilt alarms, limit switch, audio warnings etc) or emergency lowering procedures.
  • Selecting and specifying the correct personal protective equipment (PPE) for the job. A fall protection system needs to be selected before work commences and it should be the result of a job specific risk assessment. When selecting the correct PPE, you also need to take into consideration the manufacturer’s operators’ manual.
    All operators need to be trained on how to correctly use the protective equipment.
    Using a harness for example can prevent being catapulted out of the basket in the result a collision.
    Safety harness/lanyard combinations should only be attached to the anchorage provided by the manufacturer. Never attach a lanyard to any other object or structure outside the platform.
    See our range of personal fall protection systems
  • Making sure that each telehandler operator has had proper training. Telehandler operators need to be trained: for mobile elevating work platforms (MEWP), an operator needs to hold an IPAF PAL (Powered Access Licence) Card. Further evidence of competence and experience is provided by holding and maintaining the IPAF Trained Operator’s Log Book.
    Don’t start any work at height without making sure that your staff or the contractors are trained first; you also need to make them aware of any risks that they might encounter. The lack of training and preparation are some of the biggest causes for accidents at height.

Bad example

Here is an example of how not to use a moving work platform:

Further reading

All MEWP operators are required to operate vehicles in accordance with guidance and legislation as provided by:

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