The British Standards Institution has released the revised code of practice standards for the Safe Use of Mobile Elevating Work Platforms - BS8460:2017 and BS7981:2017 for Mast Climbing Work Platforms.
BS 8460:2017 builds on the 2005 standard which has been withdrawn, it now includes information on secondary guarding, self-familiarisation, material handling devices and provides an example rescue plan. The standard introduces definitions for ‘user’, ‘primary guarding’, ‘secondary guarding’ and deck-riding machines. The standard also includes recommendations on the selection, renting, positioning, maintenance and thorough examination of aerial work platforms and includes recommendations on their safe use, including on the selection and training of operators and other competent personnel.
Chris Wraith the former IPAF Technical and Safety Executive – now director of ASM – is chairman of BSi Committee MHE12.1 which led a working group of industry experts with representation from the HSE, aerial lift manufacturers, rental companies, contractors, trade organisations and Notified Bodies.
Wraith said: “The new standard is the result of 18 months development and industry consultation. It is the essential reference for anyone involved in the planning, selection, safe use, transportation and maintenance of MEWPs. It takes into account changes to MEWP design requirements in EN280, along with changes to legislation; such as the CDM Regs 2015 and publication of several Strategic Forum for Construction Plant guidance documents published since the original BS8460 standard was released in 2005.”
The new standard has also been warmly welcomed by IPAF (International Powered Access Federation). Technical & safety officer Rupert Douglas-Jones added: “It became apparent to IPAF and our members that the existing BS 8460 and BS 7981 hadn’t been updated for well over a decade and as a result the changing nature of the industry and the technical and safety guidance had somewhat overtaken the standard published. Following extensive feedback and consultation we are pleased that important considerations such as risk management, loading and unloading, modern MEWP safety measures, decals and warning stickers, familiarisation and rescue plans have all been included in the new standard for MEWPs.”
“The Mast Climbing Work Platform version also covers risk assessments, rescue plans and familiarisation, and includes example inspection, maintenance, and thorough examination checklists and a simplification of the terms and responsibilities relating to MCWP operations. Of particular significance in the MCWP standard is the table outlining specific training requirements, which IPAF can of course help operators comply with.”
The new mastclimber standard supersedes BS 7981:2002, which has also been withdrawn. The updated standard sets out guidance and recommendations to ensure that mastclimbers are installed, dismantled, maintained, thoroughly examined and used in a safe manner, and includes these key changes:
• Greater detail on the implementation of a risk assessment.
• Simplification of the responsibilities for the safe operation of including: The replacement of the term “user” with “operator”, the introduction of recommendations for the “appointed person (user)” and the “appointed person (supplier)”, and the recommendation for a trained installer to remove and reinstall a top tie and clarification of the role of the demonstrator.
• The replacement of “induction” with “familiarisation” and additional recommendations for familiarisation.
• Additional recommendations for: Alteration, thorough examination, including examination following installation, reconfiguration and repositioning, the use of safety harnesses, the preparation of a rescue plan and records retention.
The new standards are first class pieces of work, and those who drafted it should be applauded. If widely used, it builds on the experience the industry has gained over the past 12 years or more, while incorporating a host of new technology and working practices. It could make a real difference. The only problem with it is that while all of the input, drafting and development work has come from companies, associations and individuals in the industry on a free of charge basis, members are obliged to pay a substantial fee - £244 - into the BSi coffers in order to obtain even a digital copy, which hardly seems fair.
This document could play a major role in improving safety when working with aerial work platforms, and yet many smaller companies which arguably have the most to gain or learn, will be deterred from obtaining a copy. While it is perfectly understandable for printed copies to be sold for a fee, digital copies ought to be available to download free of charge. Hopefully pressure can be brought to bear by organisations such as IPAF to make this so.