Weather can play an important role in the successful and safe operation of Elevated Work Platforms (EWPs). In an ideal world, all access equipment would only be used outdoors on still, sunny, warm days but the reality of the Australian construction industry often involves battling weather extremes, from tropical rain to high temperatures.
Wet conditions, in particular, can have a direct effect on the safe operation of EWPs, and it’s vital for platform operators to be aware of the dangers inherent in using access equipment in wet conditions. In particular, they should be especially vigilant about the impact of wet weather on ground conditions, traction and systems.
Rain can lead to altered ground conditions, particularly if it is prolonged or exceptionally heavy. If your operators suspect that the ground under an EWP is becoming softer, regular inspection checks should be carried out and adjustments made. It’s essential during wet weather to keep a close eye on safety indicators on your access equipment to ensure level operation is maintained.
It’s tempting to assume that ground conditions only or chiefly affect EWPs that rely on outriggers for set-up and stability, but even insulated travel towers and wheeled scissor lifts require stable ground to operate on. Moving from hard, dry ground to soft, damp earth can cause access equipment to overturn due to the changing level.
No matter how robust the tyres, rain and wet ground have a significant effect on traction, stability and consequently safety. In particular, sodden ground is prone to settling underneath the load on your EWP, making it difficult to get level and providing an obstacle to manoeuvrability.
Wet conditions mean slippery conditions for both the wheels on your scissor lift hire and for the staff working on them. As most access equipment is made primarily from metals such as steel, when these surface materials get wet, there is very little traction for those on board.
Make sure operating staff feel safe and secure on the platform and are wearing appropriate gloves, harnesses and footwear where necessary. If in doubt, and if the weather is bad, avoid using EWPs outdoors in the rain.
As well as monitoring ground conditions and being aware of traction on wet surfaces, another key issue to be aware of is the functioning of electronic and hydraulic systems during adverse weather conditions.
As much access equipment relies on hydraulics to elevate successfully, it’s a good idea to bear the sensitivity of these systems in mind when considering the safe use of access equipment in inclement weather. Water and electricity never mix, so it’s important that electrical systems, particularly operating control interfaces, are properly set up and weather-proof.
Force is committed to the safety of all its clients and offers training to operators on all of its access equipment. Always check with your on-site health and safety officer before working in adverse weather conditions.