Beware of these top causes of serious accidents when using mobile elevating work platforms

by Brianna Crandall — September 17, 2021 — The 2021 IPAF Global Safety Report is now available to view online in English. The latest report analyses the main causes of serious injuries and fatalities occurring when using powered access machines to conduct temporary work at height, highlighting the need to gather more near-miss data from across the industry worldwide to help avoid the most common types of serious accidents in the future. These machines may also be known as mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs), aerial work platforms (AWPs), hydraulic-powered lifts, telescopic booms, scissor lifts, vertical personnel lifts, truck-mount platforms and more.

2021 IPAF Global Safety Report covering mobile elevating work platforms

The 2021 IPAF Global Safety Report is now available to view online in English. Image courtesy IPAF

While the report, based on incidents logged in IPAF’s Accident Reporting Portal, indicates the main causes of serious injuries and deaths while using powered access machines have not changed significantly across the most recent two years of data, electrocutions have increased slightly to become the joint most common cause along with falls from the platform.

Over the whole five-year period 2016-2020, the most common causes of fatal incidents were falls from the platform and electrocutions, both accounting for 23% of deaths, followed by entrapments (19%), MEWP overturns/tip-overs (12%), and MEWPs being struck by another machine or vehicle (6%) or hit by falling object(s) (5%).

In the early days of the accident reporting project, which launched in 2012-13, the majority of reports were received from IPAF’s UK membership. As the project enters its second decade, reports are now coming in from around the world, with reports received from 19 countries across the most recent two years of data gathering, and more than 25 countries worldwide in the past five years.

This year the report has been presented a different way than it was previously, with an executive summary giving a global overview, followed by detailed data spreads looking at each of the six main accident types broken down by location, machine type and industry sector, including lost-time-incident analysis specific to each incident classification.

The IPAF Global Safety Report 2021, covering 2016 – 2020 data, is available to download from the IPAF website.