When using a cherry picker or another type of MEWP (Mobile Elevating Work Platform), careful consideration must be taken when judging site safety in windy conditions. Working at height poses many dangers. But special health and safety considerations must be imposed when strong winds are blowing. In this article, we provide an overview of the factors to be aware of when working at height outdoors.
Judging the level of danger
It is important to first assess the level of danger. This is key to determining the safe wind speed for working at height. An anemometer will help to determine how strong the wind speed is. Anemometers are generally considered to be the most reliable and accurate way to measure wind speed. So never ignore the reading.
Wind speed limit for working at height
MEWPs that are designed for outdoor use and meet the BS EN280:2001+A2:2009 guidelines will have the maximum wind speed designation clearly labelled. Often the cherry picker wind speed limit will be a maximum of 28 mph. Some specialist equipment can withstand higher wind speeds. But for the most part, 28 mph is the maximum. Indoor cherry pickers will not have a maximum limit and should not be used outdoors. It is worth noting that wind speed increases with height. So 28 mph on the ground may be 50% more at the top of the cherry picker.
Beware of gaps between buildings
Gaps between buildings are a potential safety hazard for operators of cherry pickers. Tall buildings can create a ‘wind tunnel’ effect, increasing the speed and intensity of the wind. This can destabilise the cherry picker and cause other safety concerns. It is important to avoid gaps between buildings during windy weather, especially if equipment needs to be installed. Any equipment with a flat surface can be easily dislodged by the wind, causing damage to property, workers, and the public. So conduct a full risk assessment and wind speed test. If in doubt, postpone the job.
Wind chill is another factor to be aware of
While wind speed is a key danger point, wind chill is another factor to be aware of when working with cherry pickers. A ground temperature of 15 degrees may seem perfectly reasonable. But at height, the wind chill can feel significantly cooler. Cold extremes combined with high wind speeds can disorientate workers, cause confusion, and increase the potential for danger. As a result, it is important to take into account wind chill alongside wind speed when conducting a risk assessment. The Health and Safety Executive has more in-depth guidance for companies.
Contact ACS Access for specialist access equipment
At ACS Access, we have great experience in providing access equipment for different industries. Our hire truck mounted platforms are suitable for a variety of tasks, such as window cleaning, wind turbine maintenance, building inspections, and more.
Our dedicated staff have a wealth of knowledge in judging site safety at height in windy conditions. For more information, please get in touch with us.