This guidance is taken from a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Guidance Note PM 28 and deals with the features and safe use of basic working platforms which are incapable of movement independent of the truck and provide no means to control any of the truck's functions.
USE OF FORK-LIFT TRUCKS FOR LIFTING PEOPLE
Working at height is known to be a high-risk activity and the selection of a safe means of access is important. There is a hierarchy of options available, such as the provision of a permanent staircase, erection of a scaffold or the use of a MEWP, tower scaffold or portable ladder.
Although fork-lift trucks are primarily designed for the purpose of materials' handling, a fork-lift truck fitted with a suitably designed working platform can provide a safer alternative to other means of access, such as a ladder. However, it is strongly recommended that, whenever reasonably practicable, preference be given to the use of purpose-built equipment, such as a MEWP.
The suitability of working platforms and how they should be used is covered by The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) and the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER).
PUWER includes requirements for the suitability of work equipment, maintenance, training and controls.
LOLER requires that lifting operations are properly planned and that work is carried out in a safe manner. For example, there should be a pre-use check of the platform when fitted to the truck and consideration given to factors such as overturning risks.
LOLER (regulation 9) requires lifting equipment used for lifting people, which includes trucks and working platforms, to be thoroughly examined by a competent person at least once every 6 months.
Capacity of working platform
The maximum number of people and any limits on additional loads which may be carried should be marked on the platform.
The floor should be of adequate strength, slip-resistant and designed to prevent the accumulation of liquid.
Rails and boards
All platform edges should be guarded by:
• A top rail, the upper surface being between 1000 mm and 1100 mm from the platform floor;
• A toe board, having a minimum height of 100 mm; and
• At least one intermediate rail, equally spaced between the top of the toe board and the underside of the top rail.
Other equally effective means of guarding between the top rail and floor, such as wire mesh panelling and/or safety glazing, may be used.
Any gate provided should open inwards, upwards or sideways and return automatically to the closed position. The gate should be self-locking in the closed position.
Safety harness anchorages
These should be included on all working platforms.
Protection from moving parts
Screens or guards should be fitted to the platform to separate people from any trapping, crushing or shearing points on the truck.
Securing a platform to the truck fork arms
Platforms should have fork pockets on their underside which will accommodate the fork arms spaced at the widest practicable distance apart.
A positive locking device should be included on the platform to retain it on the truck when in use.
It is recommended that the platform be painted in a conspicuous colour.
The weight of the platform together with its load of people, tools, materials, etc should not be more than half the actual capacity of the truck. The actual capacity of the truck is the actual capacity of materials' handling at the rated load centre distance, maximum lift height and maximum outreach.
• Trucks with masts which can give erratic movement, particularly during lowering;
• Trucks which have an actual capacity of less than 1000 kg unless, their stability in use can be guaranteed under all working conditions.
A SAFE SYSTEM OF WORK
Truck operators should be properly trained, CITB, RTITB or similar (evidence should be sought). Operators should also be trained in the fitting of the platform, any safe working methods (e.g. remain at the controls, method of communication, no travel when platform elevated, etc) and the action to be taken in the event of an emergency.
Securing the platform to the truck
Pre-use checks should be carried out to ensure that the working platform is properly located and secured to the truck each time that it is used.
• The truck should not be moved while the working platform is elevated;
• The parking brake should be applied; and
• Where applicable, the transmission placed in neutral before raising the platform.
The truck operator should remain at the controls of the truck while the platform is in the elevated position.
The truck should only be used on firm, well-maintained and level surfaces. Gradients and uneven ground can affect the stability of the truck.
People on the working platform
It is not appropriate for people to leave or enter the platform while it is elevated. In addition, it is advisable not to lean out of the platform when it is raised and, so far as is reasonably practicable, the platform should be positioned to prevent the need for people to lean out. If people have to lean out, then they should wear a suitable harness and lanyards attached to one of the platform harness anchorage points.
There should be adequate communication between the truck operator and people on the platform. Hand-held communication devices or an agreed system of signals could be used.
Special precautions may be necessary to ensure that people in the platform are not endangered by hazards such as live electrical conductors.
Warning cones, lights or signs should be positioned around the truck working area where there is any danger of other vehicles or pedestrians coming into close proximity, or of objects falling from the platform. Where necessary, other adjacent operations may have to stop.