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Hire Knowledge Ltd
PO Box 79007
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EWP use in earthquakes

Having lived in Christchurch through the many earthquakes we've had since 2010, I’m continually being asked what operators should be doing to improve their safety when using EWPs at height in these situations.

Firstly, if you are in a machine at height and a tremor comes through, drop to the platform floor and hold on to the mid rail of the platform (or basket) until it passes.

Even though we don’t get guidelines from Manufactures for earthquakes it comes back to reading the serial plates properly.

Most outdoor rated booms have a tilt sensor set between 5 degrees and 3.5 degrees for the ultra boom lifts. As booms very rarely operate in their most unstable position, normally they will remain stable.

Rough terrain scissor lifts also tend to have 3 to 5 degree settings, so again will remain stable. Both these types of machines, built to AS1418.10 will have passed the “kerb test” at full height with the maximum Safe Working load.

Where we start to have a problem is with electric scissor lifts, which may only be set to 1.5 to 2 degrees and some are not rated for outdoor use (little or no weight in the base of the machine). Most of these machines are used at their limits e.g. at full height, and so there is very little room for error. As a guide, use a higher and wider scissor lift than what’s required as this will add in a factor of safety when using this style of machine.

Over the last few years it has been very concerning the number of indoor rated machines i have seen used on outdoor sites where wind, let alone earthquakes would be a problem. This is unsafe practice.

Some friendly advice...

  1. Learn to read and understand your machine's serial plate (get trained properly!).
  2. Use a larger machine for a greater tilt angle, this should also keep you further away from the edge of the machine's working envelope. This will give you a better factor of safety.

N.B.    It is very unlikely that you will be thrown from the EWP if you have both feet on the floor of the basket or platform, it is more likely that your machine will tip over.