Mobile Elevating Work Platforms operate in many environments. Because the operator cannot identify all hazards, it is best to have another set of eyes on the activities in the work area. A safe work practice includes using a spotter present on the ground near the MEWP when moving the machine and positioning the platform at height, regardless of visibility. Here is an overview of the role of the ground attendant.
The spotter's main missions
Two people are recommended to operate a MEWP: an operator in the basket and a supervisor on the ground. The spotter must have knowledge of the site and potential hazards. He must hold a driving license and be familiar with the equipment being used. His role is to observe the machine, the operator, and the surroundings to help prevent injury to the operator, pedestrians, or damage to the environment around the MEWP. The spotting function should be performed during vertical or horizontal movement. The ground supervisor has to:
- Control the working area: for example, coordinate pedestrians and site traffic with MEWP operations, check ground conditions, wind speed, or the proximity of buildings or overhead power lines
Direct the operator to move the aerial work platform: the driver, when at height, may have difficulty assessing the distances of obstacles from the machine or have blind spots.
Intervene in case of danger: the observer is responsible for activating the emergency descent device from the lower control box. He must also alert the rescue services, if necessary.
Communication is key
To make sure that the driver easily recognizes him, the ground attendant should wear high visibility clothing. Clear safety signals must be agreed with the personnel in the MEWP beforehand. If eye contact cannot always be made, walkie-talkies or other means of communication should be used.
For his part, the operator must communicate with the observer before moving and follow his instructions, unless it is dangerous to continue. If he cannot see or hear the spotter, he must stop all machine movements.