HSE has found a serious technical fault with mast climbing work platforms (MCWPs) used widely across construction projects. Platforms could fall from height where mechanical faults in drive units go undetected. If not rectified quickly, the fault could cause serious injury, or even death.
MCWPs, also known as ’mast climbers‘, are most frequently used in construction and can be used in other industries where high-level access and maintenance are required.
In construction, they provide both access and a platform from which to work on tall buildings. They can be used to attach external components such as cladding. MCWPs are used as part of cladding operations in both new build and re-cladding work.
HSE has discovered that some MCWPs, which rely on two independent motor drive units per mast as the means to prevent the platform falling with over-speed, are not fitted with suitable and sufficient controls to manage this risk. This means work platforms could fall from height where mechanical faults in drive units go undetected.
Failures in drive units can be such that neither the centrifugal brakes (intended to limit the speed of descent) nor the automatic brakes (intended to engage when powered travel is stopped) within the drive units are able to have an effect. Malfunctions in drive units which endangers proper function are foreseeable and unless a means of detection of such malfunctions is provided there is a risk of platforms falling with over-speed.
You are advised immediately to check that the necessary control measures are in place for all MCWP in use or available for use at work. If the control measures are not in place, you need to withdraw the MCWPs from use until those responsible for supply, installation, use, inspection, servicing, maintenance and for thorough examination of MCWPs, ensure that controls are in place.
Where MCWPs are found in use or available for use without suitable controls to manage the risk set out above HSE enforcement action will be taken in line with our enforcement policy and procedures.
Please share this information with anyone who may have this equipment or operate this type of system/process.
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