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Guide to inspecting and maintaining elevating work platforms

Elevating work platforms

Safe Work Australia has published new guidance for inspecting and maintaining elevating work platforms (EWP).

Elevating work platforms are high-risk equipment that has caused 9 worker fatalities in the past 5 years (2015-2019). An inspection, maintenance and testing program is crucial to assess the safe operation.  

There are different types of EWPs, including:

  • scissor lifts
  • self-propelled boom lifts
  • trailer or vehicle-mounted lifts, and 
  • telehandlers with elevating work platform attachment.

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There are numerous inspection types which should be carried out at different intervals. At a minimum, the WHS Regulations require inspections of an EWP to be carried out:

  • in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations, if any, or
  • if there are no manufacturer’s recommendations, based on a competent person’s recommendations, or
  • if it is not reasonably practicable to comply with above, annually.

Exactly what an inspection should include will depend on the type of inspection being undertaken. Inspections must at least cover critical components and must ensure operational control and safety systems function as designed.

‘Critical components’ are the plant components whose failure or malfunction may affect the health and safety of persons using the EWP or who are in its vicinity.

Manufacturers normally provide recommendations for what an inspection should include, but if these are not available, recommendations should be developed by a competent person. Inspections may include:

  • identifying any modifications to critical components or systems that deviate from the manufacturer’s specifications
  • identifying worn parts
  • identifying damage to items like tyres, structural components and hydraulic hoses
  • identifying abnormalities or defects—oils leaks, discolouration, cracks, unusual noises and vibrations
  • checking fluid levels and greasing
  • whether items or systems function as designed
  • making adjustments as required
  • replacing items or fluids as required—manufacturers may recommend replacing some items after a certain time period or hours of use irrespective of the condition
  • identifying loose or missing components including safety-critical fasteners
  • undertaking a written assessment of continued safe use, taking account of past and possible future use
  • checking for any insulation damage (insulated EWPs)
  • whether any manufacturers’ recommended safety upgrades have been completed, and
  • whether data plates, placards and warning labels are in place and legible

Safe Work Australia said, “employers are responsible for keeping workers safe and this includes ensuring that plant equipment is inspected and maintained. Elevating work platforms need to be inspected at least annually.”

“Employers must also ensure that workers are given the necessary information, training, instruction and supervision to use elevating work platforms safely.”

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