IPAF Welcomes Minister’s Response on HSE Accident Investigations

IPAF has received a letter from UK Minister of State for Disabled People, Mike Penning MP, in response to a letter from IPAF CEO Tim Whiteman in November, calling for an urgent review of the time taken by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) to respond to a fatal accident involving a mobile elevating work platform (MEWP) in June 2013. 

In the letter, Penning wrote: “HSE investigates incidents of this nature for a number of reasons, including to identify, what went wrong; to take action to prevent future incidents; to determine if the law has been broken and decide whether enforcement action is appropriate. In this case HSE’s Health and Safety Laboratory (HSL) began their examination of the MEWP on 17 July 2013 in the presence of a representative of its manufacturer. Their initial findings were that it appeared that the machine in question may not have been calibrated correctly. This may have allowed the basket to be extended to a position in which the MEWP became unstable.”

Penning further said in the letter that the HSL is now carrying out a detailed technical examination of the control system to substantiate these findings. As this examination forms part of the HSE’s investigation, their work must be independently verified before the HSL can produce its report. In the event that the HSL’s work identifies an issue affecting the safety of people using this type of machine, the HSE would release this information immediately, he said.

Penning also reiterated that the HSE uses safety alerts to inform industry and the workforce whenever new safety concerns emerge. These are posted on the HSE website and distributed widely through bodies such as IPAF, the Strategic Forum for Construction and other industry organisations.

“No safety alert has been issued on this occasion for the reasons explained above, the HSE has no evidence at present which would suggest that these machines are unsafe when properly calibrated and used,” said Penning in the letter. “I have passed on to HSE your kind offer of continuing support for its work, and know that it greatly values all that IPAF does in the interests of safety.”

Welcoming the Minister’s letter, IPAF CEO Tim Whiteman said: “We appreciate the Minister’s response and will consult with our members and the IPAF UK Country Council on the next steps. MEWP safety is IPAF’s top priority and will remain so.”