Avoiding trapping/crushing injuries to people in the platform of mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs)

Health and Safety Executive - Safety alert

Department Name:
Construction Sector

Bulletin No:
FOD 6-2010

Issue Date:
16 July 2010

Target Audience:
Industries - Construction, Agriculture, Catering and Hospitality, Ceramics, Chemical processing and production, Engineering, Entertainment and Leisure, Food Packaging and processing, Metals and Minerals processing and production, Manufacturing (general), Retail, Services, Transport (Rail, Road, Air), Warehousing.

Key Issues:
Mobile elevating work platforms - prevention of entrapment of operator in raised platforms against adjacent obstructions - introduction of guidance for users on hazards and controls.


More people die from falls at work than from any other cause. The use of mobile elevating work platforms/powered access equipment has been a major factor in the reduction in falls accidents. For temporary work at height this kind of equipment is often the safest solution. However there are currently under investigation a number of fatal and serious accidents where operators have become trapped between the guardrails or other equipment on the platform and adjacent obstructions. Many of these have happened in construction activities but not all. The purpose of this safety notice is to publicise the issue and direct users to new guidance which addresses this particular aspect of MEWP use.


The contribution made by MEWPs to improvements in the safety of work at height cannot be under-estimated. However, fatal and serious accidents involving entrapment of MEWP operators are increasing. This is a general trend and not limited to particular types of machines or work. HSE has a range of work underway to improve safety in the use of MEWPS, including working with a range of stakeholders through the Strategic Forum for Construction Plant Safety Group to develop new guidance on the factors which contribute to these entrapment accidents and the actions which need to be taken to prevent harm.

As with any other work equipment, the selection and application of MEWPS need to be carefully managed and implemented by competent people. The new guidance deals specifically with preventing entrapment and supplements existing guidance. It has been prepared by contributors with extensive experience of MEWP use and accident investigation and captures that experience to share with others who might not appreciate the dangers.

Action required:

  • Anyone engaged in the supply or use of MEWPS should familiarise themselves with the guidance and act on its recommendations. The guidance is relevant to anyone using MEWPs, not just those in the construction industry.
  • Key areas for attention are as follows:
    • Effective work planning
    • Selection of equipment for the specific tasks and environment
    • Training of managers and operators including on the specific machine to be used
    • Preparation and practice of detailed procedures to be followed if someone is trapped and needs to be rescued quickly to minimise harm.
  • HSE inspectors will consider enforcement action where they believe there is a risk of entrapment which is not being managed effectively.

Relevant legal documents:

  • Health and Safety at Work Act (1974)
  • Work at Height Regulations (2005)
  • Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (1998)

General note:

Please pass this information to colleagues who supply or use MEWPs in any capacity.

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