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Platform innovation improves safety when working at height

diagram of a person operating a cherry pickerThe use of access platforms (commonly referred to as MEWPs or cherry pickers) has significantly improved the safety and efficiency of installing signs high up. But certain hazards, such as operator entrapment and accidental collisions, still exist. Having identified these risks, access platform rental company, Nationwide Platforms, has launched its intelligent secondary guarding system, SkySiren® PCS™ (Pre-Crush Sensing). This they say, prevents trapping or crushing incidents before they can occur.

Developed by their research and development division, SkySiren® PCS™ offers the highest level of protection against operator entrapment by using ultrasonic sensors. These work in a similar way to car parking sensors; to constantly scan the environment to detect and alert operators of potential overhead hazards.

Using a traffic light warning system, the device is able to notify operators of varying levels of danger. If no overhead hazards are present, the warning light located above the control panel remains green. Once the platform moves within a pre-determined distance of an overhead obstacle - such as a building’s facade or overhang - the movement of the MEWP is automatically stopped and the warning light flashes amber.

men working on a crane installing a signBy stopping the MEWPs functions, the operator is alerted to the potential risk. They can safely assess the danger at the point of work before making a decision on how to proceed. At this point the operator can either manoeuvre the platform away from the hazard, or make a conscious decision to continue towards it. If the latter, the amber light will turn red and a personal audible alarm sounds intermittently to remind the operator of the imminent danger.

Should the platform continue to be operated in a way that risks entrapment, the company’s original SkySiren® pressure sensor bar, located across the platform controls, is able to provide back-up protection against entrapment. If triggered, the MEWP’s movements cease to function, preventing further crushing to the operator, and a klaxon and strobe light alerts nearby workers.

Its benefits, and its potential impact on the sign industry, won them ‘Product of the Year’ at this year’s British Sign Awards. The system has also gained further recognition after being awarded ‘Product of the Year’ at both the Hire Association Europe (HAE) and Tomorrow’s H&S awards; as well as named a finalist at the International Awards of Powered Access (IAPA) and Construction News awards.

David Catanach, British Sign and Graphics Association (BSGA) Director, said: “ The award is decided by an anonymous poll of BSGA sign maker members and SkySiren PCS came out top against strong competition. Anything that increases the safety of people and reduces the risk of accidental damage to structures whilst working at height is to be applauded.”


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