Mastering safe loading and unloading of MEWPs: IPAF’s guide

In February 2024, IPAF released a new 8-page guide on the loading and unloading of MEWPs on public roads. Following is a summary of this guide and the key points to keep in mind.

When a MEWP (Mobile Elevating Work Platform) is delivered or collected from a site, loading and unloading on the public roads should be avoided whenever possible. The goal is to minimize risk to employees and members of the public by having delivery vehicles park away from public roads and pavement.

The guide,Safe Loading and Unloading of MEWPs on Public Highways’ provided by IPAF, identifies measures to be implemented by rental companies, their clients, subcontractors, and transport companies to reduce risks if it becomes necessary to load or unload MEWPs on public roads.

1. Anticipating risks

On some construction sites, depending on their configuration, access, and location, it is sometimes unavoidable to load and unload machines on the public roads. In these limited cases, depending on your location and the type of equipment, local regulations apply: traffic rules, highway codes, machine configuration, etc. Always take local regulations into account. Here are some actions to minimize risks:

  • Conduct a preliminary risk assessment related to these maneuvers considering the site’s constraints.
  • Schedule deliveries outside of peak hours, rush periods, school entry and exit times.
  • Determine in advance the area where the delivery vehicle will park on the road, considering the site entrance and nearby traffic lanes (road, pedestrian, and urban transportation). The designated area should be of sufficient size, well-lit, and located on firm, flat ground.
  • Mark out the parking area with traffic cones and allow for a longer distance behind the truck to allow the machine to be completely unloaded, or to perform positioning maneuvers for loading. If you cannot avoid busy lanes and peak times, traffic cones are invaluable, enabling you to load and unload in the best possible conditions.
  • Beforehand, check the certifications of the personnel who will be loading or unloading the machines, as specific training and/or permits may be required (depending on your location).

2. Choosing suitable delivery vehicles

The choice of vehicle depends on its ability to safely transport specific units, as well as to successfully access and exit the site. For example, the transported machine(s) may require a full-width ramp instead of separate or mobile ramps, a winch (consider the loading/unloading sequence to ensure that the winch is accessible to machines requiring its use), a ramp slope, low-profile ramps for low ground clearance machines, sufficient anchoring chains/straps, signalling beacons (especially when rear lights are obscured).

To ensure you get the best vehicle for your MEWP, give your provider the machine’s technical information, usually specified on the product sheet or technical documentation. Provide the overall size or transport position, weight, and a photo or technical drawing of the machine’s transport position. This information may allow multiple machines to be safely transported simultaneously on a single vehicle.

3. Performing a dynamic risk assessment before operating

Upon arrival and before starting any loading/unloading activity, the driver must visually assess the designated area to identify any hazards that may pose significant risks during the loading/unloading operation. Here is a nonexclusive list of items to check during this evaluation phase:

  • Other traffic
  • Pedestrians
  • Speed of traffic and highway speed restrictions
  • Road layout – junctions, traffic signals, bends, crests of hills
  • Road camber – uneven or sloping ground
  • Visibility restrictions such as trees and bushes, parked vehicles
  • Ground conditions such as: Inspection covers, drains and services
  • Railway crossings, tramways, bus, cycle routes or pedestrian routes
  • Overhead power lines or obstructions
  • Any commercial premises (to consider access and egress) or other businesses nearby
  • Street or site lighting and natural light levels
  • Weather and site/road surface conditions
  • Delivery time restrictions and peak periods, e.g., commuter rush hour, school pick-up/drop-offs

Find all advice in the comprehensive guide provided by IPAF and available in 11 languages/versions :

As a manufacturer of aerial work platforms, Haulotte has developed the Haulotte Activ’Lighting System, which optimizes visibility during loading and unloading operations at night or in low light conditions. The system incorporates strategically placed LEDs that illuminate the ground around the machine as well as several parts of the boom: upper and lower control boxes, wheel lighting, and behind the counterweight. Ideally positioned around the machine, these lighting points ensure better visibility for the operator and make them more visible to the environment.

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