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The Power in Access

The power in access

Handy Hints and Tips as Winter Draws In


31 October 2016

This month we’ve caught up with our Training Manager, Stewart Flood, for some handy hints & tips on using powered access in the winter months.

Well I think we’ve well and truly seen the back of summer, clocks have gone back and nights are getting even longer.

Probably time to think about winter operations with your MEWP, which, you may not think is so important, but with a few basic precautions and perhaps an eye towards your own safety, some of the recurring incidents and accidents could be avoided.

Something we tend to neglect is the simple fact that our early starts are now in darkness and the 5pm finish is also dark – “big deal”, I can hear some say.  Well just consider this for a moment:  How do you carry out your pre-use inspection properly in the dark?  The use of a head torch might just be the answer.  The lack of light might also prohibit the thorough check of the route you might be taking with your machine.

Let’s factor in now the lower temperatures for a moment and the effects on your MEWP.  Every MEWP will have a battery or batteries in its system.  One thing we see over and over again is a MEWP fail due to the neglect of its lead acid batteries.  This is normally down to low levels of electrolyte and easily prevented.  Unless otherwise stated all manufacturers will recommended that the batteries are checked daily, and before you ask it’s distilled water you top them up with!  The lead acid battery doesn’t like the cold either! Try and keep the MEWP indoors wherever possible or certainly out of any prevailing weather.

A look at the outside of the battery will often show up some basic issues:

CAUTION: Always wear protective clothing, gloves and goggles, when handling batteries, electrolyte, and charging your battery

  • Battery terminals tight and Vaseline covered
  • Battery terminals clean, free of dirt and corrosion
  • No cracks in the casing
  • Battery cables should be intact; broken or frayed cables can be extremely hazardous
  • Isolate, Tag and Report any suspicious cable(s)

Just remember, no matter which MEWP you have it’s likely that it’ll have batteries on it somewhere and you need to look after them!

Let’s now consider the controls. We’ve seen some MEWPs which, when the condensation in the control panel freezes overnight the emergency stop switch won’t function properly… you’d be forgiven for thinking the MEWP was designed for outdoor work.  Wherever possible disconnect the controls and keep them indoors or cover them with something to insulate them.

The same has happened in the past with limit switches.  I can’t stress highly enough the need to ensure these are thoroughly checked prior to operation of the MEWP.  If you don’t know how to do this, get a demonstration of the particular MEWP from us.  Here are a few limit switches for you to check:

  • Tilt sensor
  • Stability system limit switches
  • Anti-crush limit switch (not on booms)
  • Elevated drive speed limit switch
  • Outreach limitation limit switch (if fitted to your boom)

All of these might be inoperative/defective after exposure to low temperatures or mud and dirt.

Finally, if you are using a diesel powered MEWP, please run the engine for at least ten minutes before beginning your work.  This’ll get everything nice and warm and hopefully along with the other tips mentioned will ensure you have a trouble free day!!