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What training do I need to operate a MEWP


17 January 2023

 What is a MEWP?


MEWP stands for Mobile Elevating Work Platform, and they are machines that are used to manoeuvre engineers into working positions to complete tasks at height before returning them to the ground. They are not for transporting people from one level to another, and only those operating the MEWP should climb on and off the platform from the ground or the chassis.


The main features of MEWPs are a work platform, which contains the controls, an extending frame or structure, and a chassis. They come in a huge variety of sizes, shapes and designs, but they all essentially do the same fundamental thing; lift people or equipment in a safe cage or platform to enable working at height – whether a few meters off the ground or an astonishing 48 metres. Any job that is beyond natural reach can benefit from using a MEWP, as having a cage makes working at height more comfortable, and safer than using ladders or towers. We stock many different MEWPs available for hire that you can browse here.


What are MEWPs used for?


Primarily used to transport crew, tools and other equipment to any project that requires work above normal standing reach, the applications for MEWPs are almost limitless. With a tiny footprint, they can reach staggering heights and can easily be manoeuvred into hard-to-access places whilst improving the safety of those working with them. They are used widely by the construction industry for acoustical and lighting installation, road building and major construction projects, as well as air conditioning, ventilation and heating contractors, amongst a plethora of other applications.


Some MEWPs are designed specifically for the rougher terrain of large infrastructure projects, whereas others are better suited to indoor tasks. Apart from the construction industry, other industries that use them are:


  • Commercial: department stores, shopping centres and large retail units
  • Entertainment and Leisure: film, television, theatres, museums, galleries, sports clubs, hotels, resorts, stadia and exhibition centres
  • Transportation: airports, stations, manufacturers of cars, trains, buses as well as road construction and maintenance
  • Utilities: water, gas and electricity
  • Warehousing and distribution: manufacturing, ports and shipyards
  • Institutions: schools, colleges, universities, hospitals and prisons


And many more.


Types of MEWPs


There are almost as many types of MEWPs as there are uses for them, with various capacities, working heights and even fuel types. It will help you to select the right type of MEWP if you’re familiar with each type of platform and what their capabilities are.

Different types of MEWP, either mobile or static, include:


Cherry pickers

Known also as articulated boom lifts, cherry pickers are extremely versatile, having both upward and sideways reach, and are a great option for both indoor and external uses.


Boom lifts

Similar to cherry pickers, but offering increased extension and manoeuvrability, boom lifts are also excellent for use inside and out. The more robust models, often diesel-fuelled, are well suited to the rougher, more uneven terrains of building sites.


Scissor lifts

One of the most common MEWPs, the larger, secure platform raises straight up and down. Narrower versions are often available to fit through standard doorways, for indoor work in more confined areas.


Spider lifts

These MEWPs are extremely stable, benefiting from outriggers to create a more secure and steady base. They are well suited to working on softer ground, or rough terrain, on large construction sites.


Trailer and Vehicle mounted lifts

As their name suggests, these lifts are mounted in a trailer that can be towed, or as part of a truck chassis which provides anchorage. Highly transportable, these lifts have vertical and horizontal extension, making them extremely versatile.


PAV lifts

Push Around Vertical (PAV) lifts feature a compact and lightweight platform that is easy to move around and primarily used for indoor tasks. Some are even manually operated, making them economical as well as adaptable.


MEWP hazards


With the highest number of fatalities in the workplace being due to falling from a height, and the majority of these being in construction, it’s clear that the greatest hazard to using an MEWP is the risk of falling from the basket or platform. However, working with MEWPs has hazards other than just falling to contend with. The vehicle could collide with pedestrians, overhead cables or other vehicles, and there is also the risk of overturning the machine which may result in the operator being thrown from the basket. Entrapment is another hazard, where the operator can become trapped between the basket and a fixed structure, such as part of a building. Operators can also become trapped against the platform’s control panel, meaning that they may not be able to stop the machine from running. All of these hazards only serve to highlight how vitally important it is that operators have full and complete training, and a comprehensive risk assessment with suitable control measures put in place to help mitigate any risks and prevent accidents or injuries.


MEWPs and the Law


As working with MEWPs carries such a high level of risk, there is much legislation in place to ensure that workers and companies are aware of the hazards and are fully informed on how to handle them. The Health and Safety at Work act 1974, The Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999, The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER) and the Working at Height Regulations 2005 all stipulate that the employer, operator and all employees should be educated and informed, and are provided with safe working equipment - which they hold certification to operate - for the provision of a safe working environment. All of this proves that anyone operating a MEWP needs to have comprehensive training by law, as well as for the safety of all working near them.


MEWP training


So, what is MEWP training? The International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) is the leading authority for the safe use of powered access platforms for the construction industry around the world, and completion of its MEWP course will give operators a Powered Access Licence (PAL), which proves their competence to operate MEWPs.  The Prefabricated Access Suppliers’ and Manufacturers’ Association (PASMA) also offers training courses for the industry in safe working practices for staff working at heights on mobile access towers. Both training suppliers are approved by the HSE and the UK contractors Group as providing the best training courses available for those operating MEWPs, and for those who supervise them. Both the IPAF and PASMA offer courses for operating powered access equipment, but for slightly different types of machinery. It’s important to make sure that staff have the correct training on the right course for the equipment that they will be operating.


GTAccess has over 25 years of experience in training operatives for the powered access machinery it supplies across the country, both for sale and rent. Having trained over 8000 operators successfully, we are proud to offer comprehensive IPAF and PASMA training for all types of MEWP. With 11 depots nationwide, we offer daytime, evening and weekend training courses to prevent interference with your team’s working schedules.


Get in touch today to find out from our friendly team which course is right for your MEWP operatives and how they can get the relevant qualification for your machinery and operation.