Access Platforms - also known as aerial platforms – and MEWPs (mobile elevating work platforms) - provide the safest form of temporary access and so have gained in popularity. While there is an array of designs for low-level equipment, once lift heights get above a couple of metres MEWPs come as either a scissor or a boom lift.Read More
Access Platforms - also known as aerial platforms – and MEWPs (mobile elevating work platforms) - provide the safest form of temporary access and so have gained in popularity. While there is an array of designs for low-level equipment, once lift heights get above a couple of metres MEWPs come as either a scissor or a boom lift.
Scissor lifts provide simple and quick access and for their size can have enough basket capacities to lift several people, their tool and materials. However scissor lifts are restricted to straight up and down movements with any ‘outreach’ limited to retractable deck extensions.
In contrast boom lifts offer many metres of outreach and extraordinary lift heights which scissor lifts cannot achieve however, ensure stability is retained the load capacity of the baskets on boom lifts are restricted – often to one person and hand tools. The platforms on higher reach boom can be lifted to more than 80 metres into the air. Boom lifts can be trailer-mounted, self-propelled or truck-mounted and have their working envelope restricted until stabilisers are deployed.Overview
Aerial platform manufacturers include Genie, JLG, Bronto, Upright, CTE, Versalift, Haulotte, Bizzocchi, Holland Lift, Niftylift, Palfinger, Skyjack, Ascendant Access, Snorkel, Tupen and Dino Lift while China's Zhejiang Dingli Machinery is starting to export its products. As many serious or even fatal accidents can occur when a worker is only a metre or so above ground, a number of low level access equipment manufacturers such Pop-up, Bravi and Power Tower have joined the established players.
The UK's 'Work at Height' regulations place a duty of care on employers to ensure that all work carried out at height is planned and completed in a supervised and safe manner. Traditional methods of working at height would often involve ladders and scaffolding, but these approaches can be cumbersome and costly to implement, slowing the job and making it less competitive. Powered access platforms provide a quick, safe and efficient alternative to these approaches.
Choosing the right access platform can provide a far more flexible, cost-effective, faster and safer approach to working at height. Ensuring the best possible safety is so important on site, as more than half of all fatalities in the UK construction sector are the result of falls from height. Using a powered access platform tackles these issues head on and also provides the contractor with the opportunity to complete a larger number of jobs to tighter deadlines, while complying with all legislation and minimising labour requirements. Clearly, selecting the right machine is key to achieving these goals.
A large number of different powered access platforms are available on the market today. Perhaps the first choice to make is that of power source. Battery-operated platforms are available and are mainly used in indoor applications. These are ideal where quiet, emissions-free operation is required due to the presence of staff. Diesel-powered machines are more commonly used for outdoor operations. These can offer both improved traction and more power for the most challenging jobs. They can provide a stable platform in tricky conditions and on rough, uneven terrain. Some machines, however, offer operators the best of both worlds with dual electricity and diesel power. This can be a great option for contractors looking for a single machine to tackle all jobs.
The types of powered access platform are further divided by operation type. These fall in to the scissor, boom and mast lift types. A scissor powered access platform is ideal where straight vertical lifting is required. They can be narrow or normal gauge and are offered as outdoor diesel and indoor electric models, often with non-marking tyres. Outdoor versions can come as 4x4 units to operate in challenging site conditions.
Boom lifts have a telescopic and often articulated boom, which is ideal for providing sideways reach. They can also work over and around obstacles, making them useful in cluttered situations. They are offered in a wide range of sizes and can work at heights of up to 40m. They can also rotate through 360 degrees and can be powered by different sources.
Electrically operated mast lifts are compact and light and can work well in tight jobs. They are operable up to 11m and also rotate through 360 degrees. Many are used for indoor applications and come with non-marking tyres to prevent damage to internal flooring. They are often found in retail areas, hotels and offices. Some models are compact enough to fit in lifts and be operated in multi-storey indoor environments.