There were 31 fatalities worldwide involving mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs), also known as aerial work platforms (AWPs), in 2012, according to preliminary results of International Powered Access Federation's (IPAF) accident database. The main causes of these fatalities included: fall from platform (9), electrocution (8), overturn (6), entrapment (4), and mechanical/technical related (4).

Almost half of the number of reported fatalities (16) involved booms (3b). Eleven fatalities involved vehicle mounts (1b),  and four involved scissor lifts (3a). About two-thirds of the fatalities (20) occurred in the United States, the largest single market for powered access equipment in the world. Three fatalities were reported in the Netherlands, two in the United Kingdom, and one each in Australia, Austria, Canada, Singapore, Spain, and Switzerland.

The data presented is based on accidents reported directly to IPAF and through information collated from various news media. The accuracy of the data cannot be guaranteed, but where appropriate, action is taken to verify the facts and the data is amended should relevant information become available.

“The first year of the accident reporting project is producing significant results and is allowing us to both improve our training programmes and focus our safety campaigns to make this safe industry even safer,” said IPAF CEO Tim Whiteman. “There are over 1.5 million MEWPs/AWPs in use around the world, and while every death is a tragedy, powered access is still a very safe way to work at height.”

IPAF launched its accident reporting project in January 2012 with the aim of building up a comprehensive record of known accidents, in one location and in one common format. Data gathered enables IPAF to analyse and look for common trends, and propose possible actions to further improve and promote the safe use of powered access worldwide. Data collected is kept confidential and used solely for the purposes of analysis and making recommendations to improve safety.

“The accident database has been enhanced with new functions,” said IPAF Technical Officer Chris Wraith. “A dashboard facility has been added which allows companies who report monthly to track and monitor accidents related to their staff, and from 2013, accident data will also be collected on mast climbing work platforms (MCWPs).”

IPAF rental company members in the United Kingdom have voluntarily committed to report any known MEWP accidents involving their staff at the IPAF accident database. All manufacturers, rental companies, contractors, and users are encouraged to report any known fatal and serious accidents involving MEWPs and MCWPs worldwide at www.ipaf.org/accident.