This good practice guideline outlines requirements when working with mobile elevating work platforms.


Mobile elevating work platforms (PDF 3.3 MB)
[image] MEWP hero

While this guidance has not been updated to reflect current work health and safety legislation (the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 and regulations), it may still contain relevant information and practices to keep workers and others healthy and safe.

Please read this guidance in conjunction with all relevant industry standards that apply to you as a PCBU. This guidance will be progressively reviewed and either updated, replaced with other guidance, or revoked.

Clarification notice - Best Practice Guidelines – Mobile Elevating Work Platforms (August 2014)

01 / Introduction

Mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs) are useful but complex pieces of equipment that are often used for access in hazardous areas. People have been seriously injured and killed in accidents involving MEWPs.

The causes of these accidents have included:

  • equipment failure
  • not following the manufacturer’s recommendations
  • inadequate training and supervision
  • not fully assessing the hazards and risks of the job, site and the equipment.

The guidelines outline the safe work practices on how to use and maintain MEWPs safely and help duty holders meet their obligations under the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 (HSE Act), and the Health and Safety in Regulations 1995 (HSE Regulations). Duty holders include employers, employees, principals, designers and manufacturers, hirers and suppliers engaged in work associated with MEWPs.

This document is based on the current state of knowledge for the safe use of MEWPs. There may be other methods or processes that meet the requirements for providing a safe workplace under the HSE Act.

The Best Practice Guidelines for Mobile Elevating Work Platforms are non-industry specific. Some industries have guidelines that deal with specific problems faced in their working environments, such as the electricity sector or horticulture. When deciding how to do a job safely, make sure you check any industry specific guidance.

These guidelines may apply to the following activities and industries:

  • arboriculture
  • building and construction
  • bush and forest industries
  • electrical supply and distribution
  • film and television > plant and machinery hire
  • port operations
  • sign writing and advertising
  • stock picking
  • railways
  • telecommunications
  • warehousing.

1.1 Scope and application

The advice in these guidelines represents the current state of knowledge (the best available at the time of publication) on the safe design, use and maintenance of MEWPs.

It includes the principles and requirements for using MEWPs that are common across a broad range of industries and applications.

This document refers to other guidance material about MEWP safety and hazard control measures. This includes industry standards, codes of practice, guidelines, manufacturers’ instructions and other material. This document does not repeat the information from these sources but incorporates their key principles where possible.

These guidelines apply to work platforms where the height of the platform can be adjusted by powered scissor mechanisms, telescoping boom or tower, articulation or any combination of these. They can be vehicle-mounted, self-propelled, towed or moved by hand and used to access work above or below ground level. The guidelines also apply to work platforms temporarily or permanently attached to truck hoists.

These guidelines do not apply to the following:

  • Forklift trucks with working platforms (refer to WorkSafe NZ publication Forklifts – Approved Code of Practice for Training Operators and Instructors of Powered Industrial Lift Trucks).
  • Cages or platforms attached to crane hooks (refer to WorkSafe NZ publication Approved Code of Practice for Cranes – Includes the Design, Manufacture, Supply, Safe Operation, Maintenance and Inspection of Cranes (Cranes ACOP)).
  • Work platforms temporarily attached to a mobile crane (refer to the Cranes ACOP). > Suspended scaffolds (refer to Best Practice Guidelines for Scaffolding in New Zealand).
  • Lifts or elevators (refer to New Zealand Standard NZS 4332: Non-Domestic Passenger and Goods Lifts).
  • Telescopic handlers, except when configured as a MEWP.
  • Horticultural MEWP (See Best Practice Guideline: Safe Use of Elevating Work Platforms in the Horticultural Industry).
  • The New Zealand Fire Service.
  • Building maintenance units.

1.2 Definitions

HSE Act The Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992
HSE Regulations The Health and Safety in Employment Regulations 1995.
All practicable steps

Defined in the Health and Safety in Employment Act as being in relation to achieving any result in any circumstances, means all steps to achieve the result that it is reasonably practicable to take in the circumstances, having regard to —

  1. the nature and severity of the harm that may be suffered if the result is not achieved; and
  2. the current state of knowledge about the likelihood that harm of that nature and severity will be suffered if the result is not achieved; and
  3. the current state of knowledge about harm of that nature; and
  4. the current state of knowledge about the means available to achieve the result, and about the likely efficacy of each of those means; and
  5. the availability and cost of each of those means. To avoid doubt, a person required by this Act to take all practicable steps is required to take those steps only in respect of circumstances that the person knows or ought reasonably to know about.
Anemometer A device for measuring wind speed.
Beaufort wind scale A method that relates wind speed to observed conditions.
Competent person A person who has acquired through training, qualification, experience or a combination of these, the knowledge and skill enabling that person to correctly perform the required task. Note: Different types of MEWPs require different competencies, including appropriate training and/or qualifications.
Critical component One whose failure could result in a risk to the health and safety of persons using the MEWP or in its vicinity.
Employee As defined in the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992, subject to Sections 3C to 3F of the Act, means any person of any age employed by an employer to do any work (other than residential work) for hire or reward under a contract of service and, in relation to any employer, means an employee of the employer.

According to the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992:

  1. means a person who employs any other person to do any work for hire or reward; and, in relation to any employee, means an employer of the employee; and
  2. includes, in relation to any person employed by the chief executive or other employee of a Crown organisation to do any work for the Crown organisation for hire or reward, that Crown organisation.
Harness system A safety harness with a lanyard incorporating a short energy absorber or fit-for-purpose self-retracting lifeline (SRL) attached to a certified anchor point. If using an adjustable lanyard arrangement the length will be adjusted to a length as short as practicable that will restrain the operator inside the platform.
Manual force A side loading imposed on the machine by the operator pushing/pulling on an object outside the work platform.
Mobile elevating work platform (MEWP) The complete machine including the platform, lifting mechanism, attachments, chassis or vehicle as applicable.
Operator A person who controls the movements of the MEWP.
Personal energy absorber A device that reduces the deceleration force imposed when a fall is suddenly arrested, and correspondingly reduces the loadings on the anchorage and the person’s body. The energy absorber may either be a separate item or manufactured as part of the lanyard.
Principal A person who, or organisation that, engages any person (other than as an employee) to do any work for gain or reward.
Rated capacity The maximum load, expressed in kilograms, for which the MEWP has been designed for normal operation, and includes persons, tools, materials, acting vertically on the work platform.
Safety observer A person who watches the MEWP to warn the operator if they are getting too close to overhead power lines or other hazards. An observer must not do any other job while they are watching the MEWP.
Shall or must Indicates a legal requirement.
Should Indicates recommended best practice.
Spreader plates An item that may be constructed of a suitable material (steel, timber or other) to sit under outriggers that help distribute the weight of the MEWP on softer ground.
Work platform The portion of equipment where people carry out their work.
Work platform supplier Owner, hirer (supplying for hire) or supplier of a MEWP.

02 / Safe work practices when using MEWPs

Identifying hazards and putting control measures in place makes using MEWPs in the workplace safer.

Duty holders must choose the best MEWP for the task, given the type of work and the work environment. The work needs to be properly planned and hazards managed at the worksite.

Operators must be trained and competent before using the MEWP and must follow the manufacturer’s operating instructions. Operators must also use safe working practices and use the MEWP within its limits.

MEWPs can seriously injure people in the following ways:

Entrapment - An operator can get trapped between the work platform and a fixed structure, such as when moving in tight overhead areas of steelwork. Operators can be trapped against the platform controls and, if this happens, they may not be able to stop the MEWP.

Overturning - On an uneven surface, the MEWP can overturn throwing the operator from the work platform.

Falling - An operator can fall from the platform while working. They can even be catapulted out if, for example, the wheels go into a sink hole.

Collision - The MEWP may hit pedestrians, or nearby vehicles or touch overhead power lines.

2.1 Hazard management

Planning a safe way to do a job can help identify the hazards of any work using a MEWP. Planning safe work includes the hazard management process, which is:

  • Identify the hazards.
  • Assess the hazards – decide if the identified hazards are significant. Would they cause serious harm?
  • Control the hazards – eliminate, isolate or minimise the hazard. This includes selecting the right MEWP for the task and workplace.
  • Maintain the work plan or other safety documentation.
  • Monitor the hazards and keep the work plan or task analysis updated

2.2 Identify hazards

Identify and assess all hazards for every job, site or task.

These are some ways to identify hazards while working with a MEWP:

  • Physical inspections – walk around the workplace using a checklist to identify and manage hazards.
  • Task analysis – look at each task and identify the hazards involved.
  • Process analysis – identify hazards at each stage of the project or piece of work.
  • Review accident and incident investigations – identify hazards and see what caused any accidents using investigations of accidents on similar equipment or work.

See appendices 9.7 and 9.8 for examples of hazard and site assessment checklists.

2.3 Assess the hazard

Decide if the identified hazards are significant. How likely is it that someone could be harmed and, if they are harmed, how seriously could they be hurt? If someone could be seriously harmed, then it’s a significant hazard. All significant hazards need to be controlled to stop anyone being seriously hurt. While significant hazards are a top priority, all hazards should have effective controls.

2.4 Hazard controls

First try and eliminate the hazard but if that’s not possible, then isolate it, and as a last resort try to reduce the harm that could be caused by a hazard, by minimising it. A combination of controls may need to be used.

Develop ways to control the hazards that use ‘group controls’ (such as edge protection) that protect more than one worker from a hazard. Group controls are better than ‘individual controls’, which protect only one person (such as a fall restraint).

In this section some of the main hazards of using MEWPs are covered along with recommended control measures. MEWPs that comply with AS/NZS 1418.10 will have the safety features listed below.

Confined overhead working

Operators should:

  • be briefed on the risks of working in and around structures where they could be trapped or pinned between the platform and the structure
  • be aware of their working environment at all times
  • wear hardhats with a chin strap.

Ground conditions

  • Use the MEWP on firm and level ground where possible. Make sure the MEWP is rated for any slopes it may face. Problems – like trenches, manholes and soft ground conditions, – can cause a MEWP to overturn.
  • Do not use a MEWP on a slope beyond the limits of the inclinometer or manufacturer’s specifications.
  • Make sure any temporary covers used to block holes are strong enough to take the whole weight of the MEWP, including the maximum rated capacity – that is the weight of the MEWP fully loaded with people, tools and equipment.
  • Be careful when reaching out from the platform, going too far can affect stability, especially when working on slopes.


  • Set the outriggers correctly before using the MEWP.
  • Use the manufacturer’s instructions to set the outriggers before raising the platform.
  • Use spreader plates when needed because of the ground conditions. They should be made of a material that gives good grip to both the spreader foot and ground.
  • When setting up a MEWP on-ramps using outriggers, extreme caution is required to prevent slipping down the ramp. Do not set up the outriggers’ footplates on a slope.

Preventing falls

  • Make sure the work platform has effective guard rails and toe boards, if it is not fully enclosed.
  • Use an appropriate harness system if someone could fall from the MEWP. Secure the harness to a certified anchor point within the MEWP.

Falling objects

  • Isolate the area around the MEWP so that falling tools or objects do not strike people below.
  • Anyone working nearby should wear a hard hat.


  • Poor weather can make affect a platform’s stability and make it unsafe to use.
  • Only use a MEWP within the manufacturer’s specified wind rating. The wind rating should be on the manufacturer’s serial plate.
  • Bad weather and storms can also damage a MEWP. After severe weather, inspect the MEWP before using it again.
  • Do not park or store the MEWP with the platform elevated.

Handling materials

  • If the MEWP is being used to install materials, check the weight, dimensions and distribution of the materials so it does not exceed the rated capacity of the MEWP.
  • Do not use handrails to support loads.
  • Make sure workers can handle any materials safely.
  • Use extra lifting equipment to move materials to the work position, if needed.

Working near or over water

  • When working over or near water, assess the hazards and risks to decide what personal protective equipment should be worn and what control measures should be in place. Personal protective equipment includes life jackets and harness systems.
  • Have a rescue plan in place and take into account the extra hazards working near water can create.

Nearby hazards

  • Check the area for nearby hazards, such as overhead power lines, traffic or dangerous machinery.

Travelling between work areas

  • The operator must face the direction the MEWP is travelling in.
  • Lower the MEWP when travelling between work areas.
  • Lower any boom and point it in line with the direction of travel.

Working near others

  • Use barriers to keep pedestrians and traffic separated from where MEWPs are working.

2.5 Electrical hazards

Any hazard assessment must identify:

  • all overhead power lines near the workplace
  • all trees, structures and work positions that are within 4 metres of the power lines.
  • trees can conduct electricity if they are too close to or touch live power lines. All safety plans must include these identified hazards and give details of how the hazards are controlled.
  • treat all overhead power lines as being live, unless the power company that owns the power lines formally advises that the lines are safe.

No-go zone – stay 4 metres away from overhead power lines

  • Never work within 4 metres of any power line without first contacting the power company. Written consent is required from the power company before any work can be done within 4 metres of the power line. A copy of the consent must be on site at all times.

Exclusion zone – 4 to 6.4 metres from power lines

If any MEWP is likely to get closer than 6.4 metres to an overhead power line, make sure:

  • operators, the MEWP including loads, attachments, tools and equipment, and all work activity must stay at least 4 metres away from any overhead power lines. This is called the minimum approach distance (MAD)
  • hazard controls are in place to make sure no one and nothing can enter the 4 metre no-go zone (MAD)
  • the area between 6.4 and 4 metres from the overhead power line is separated from the workspace using cones or tape to show where the exclusion zone is
  • the safety plan explains how the MEWP will be used so the operator can always see the power lines
  • all operators of machines are briefed on limits to their movements and they must understand only specific operators can work in the exclusion zone (4–6.4 metres from a power line).

Operating within the exclusion zone

Anyone working in the exclusion zone must be competent to operate the specific type of MEWP used, be thoroughly briefed and must understand the dangers of working near overhead power lines.

A competent safety observer must be present at all times to make sure everyone and everything (including the MEWP and tools) stay out of the 4 metre no-go zone (MAD).

The safety observer must be able to alert the MEWP operator immediately if they are about to enter the 4 metre no-go zone (MAD).

Operators working with MEWPs in the exclusion zone (4–6.4m) must obey any instructions given by the safety observer.

People working in the safety observer role must not do any other task at the same time. Operators must not use mobile phones or electronic equipment of any kind to avoid being distracted.

Operators must not wear clothing that could block their vision or movement in any way while working in the exclusion zone.

Everyone must treat power lines as live until the power company can formally advise that any line is safe.

Emergency procedures

If a MEWP does touch overhead power lines, anyone in the MEWP should stay there and warn any others nearby to stay clear. If it is safe to do so, operate the controls to break contact.

If it is not safe to break contact:

  • call for help, warning everyone to keep well clear of the machine
  • stay put until the power company can de-energise the line and advise that it is safe to get off the MEWP.

If help is not immediately available, electrical contact cannot be broken and there is an urgent reason to get off the MEWP (such as fire):

  • switch off the motor and – where applicable – apply brakes > remove any loose clothing
  • climb to a point on the MEWP where you can safely jump to the ground about 1 metre above the ground
  • jump so that you are well clear of the platform before any part of you touches the ground
  • fall away from the MEWP and not towards it
  • do not touch the MEWP until the power company advises it is safe to do so.

Electricity industry safety information

Further information on how to use mobile plant safely around power lines is on the Electricity Engineers Association’s (EEA) website at www.eea.co.nz(external link). The EEA Guide for Non-Electricity Industry Employees Using Mobile Plant Near Power Lines and Electricity Cables explains how to avoid electrical hazards when using MEWPs near power lines. It also has information to help people identify electrical hazards.

The Guide for Electricity Supply Industry Employees Using Mobile Plant gives the minimum accepted practices for competent electricity industry workers who are using MEWPs for electricity industry work.

2.6 Weather conditions and wind

All MEWPs (except those for indoor use) can work in wind, up to a maximum rating. The maximum wind rating must be clearly marked clearly either on the machine or the manufacturer’s serial plate. The MEWP must not be operated outside the maximum limits.

A traditional method of assessing wind speed is using the Beaufort wind scale. This scale relies on an operator looking at their environment to figure out wind speed. This can lead to the operator underestimating the wind speed and its hazards. Wind speed increases with height and may be 50% faster 20 metres above ground.

An accurate way of measuring wind speed is by using an anemometer. This is a common tool used to assess weather conditions.

Building cladding, sheet materials, panels and other such materials can act as sails and make a MEWP more likely to tip over, especially in gusty wind conditions. For the same reason, never attach signboards, banners and the like to the platform, even if it is for a short time. Be aware that high buildings can funnel wind, which can cause high winds even when wind speed in open areas is low. This can even happen indoors in large warehouses, aircraft hangers and high rise buildings. Local wind speeds can be increased by things like aircraft slipstreams at airports and high-sided vehicles on motorways.

03 / Planning the work

Before starting the job, the first step is to plan how to do the work safely. The nature of the task and the hazards linked with it determine how much planning is needed.

At a minimum the following steps should be taken.

3.1 Stages of planning

Follow the steps below when planning any job:

  1. identify the tasks to be done
  2. identify the hazards linked to each task
  3. pick the right MEWP for the job
  4. identify control measures
  5. develop your plan
  6. make a plan for what to do in an emergency
  7. record the planning, including any rescue plan
  8. involve people and talk to everyone working on the job about the plan
  9. review the plan before the job starts and add any changes.

Identify the tasks to be done

  • First, identify exactly what work needs to be done, where and when.
  • Visit the location and check the conditions of the worksite. Take along site staff who can identify hazards in the area and any problems with the ground where the MEWP will need to work.
  • For simple tasks, planning could happen at the same time as the site visit. For more complicated jobs planning may need to be completed off site.

Identify the hazards associated with the task

  • Identify the hazards of each task. These might be caused by the location of the work, the type of MEWP or the people and equipment being carried.
  • ISO 16368 Annex H identifies some potential hazards. These have been detailed in Appendix 9.7 of this document.

Pick the right MEWP for the job

  • MEWPs vary in rated capacity, working height and reach. The MEWP that best matches the particular work task should be chosen. The choice will be guided by the limits of the worksite, ground conditions, site access and how near the public or other workers will be.

Identify control measures

  • Once the hazards and the risks are identified, control measures to eliminate, isolate or minimise the hazard need to be put in place.
  • Control measures will include any personal protective equipment to be used, such as hard hats and harness systems.

Develop the plan

  • Having identified the hazards, evaluated the risks and worked out the control measures needed to do the job safely, develop a safety plan.

Make a plan for what to do in an emergency

  • The plan needs to include how you will rescue anyone stuck on the work platform if the platform can’t be lowered for any reason, such as a machine fault or the work platform gets tangled.
  • The rescue plan should cover what to do in case someone is sick, injured or exposed to chemicals or fumes.
  • Any rescue plan must take into account the reason the platform was stranded at height and any need for urgent action.
  • Wherever possible, a trained person should do the rescue using the machine’s ground controls or secondary lowering system. If this is not possible, use another MEWP to carry out the rescue.
  • All sites need an emergency plan in place. Before starting any rescue, do a hazard assessment. Have an emergency plan for the operator to complete their own rescue.
  • The plan needs to allow for any hazards, like the ones listed in Appendix 9.7 (based on ISO 16368, Annex H) and the following:

    • the rescue machine needs to be placed so the people doing the rescue are not put at risk
    • the work platforms of both machines need to be next to each other with as little gap as possible between them > switch off the engines on both machines during the transfer
    • where practicable, the person being rescued and the rescuer should wear full body harnesses with adjustable lanyards. Attach lanyards to certified anchor points on the rescue machine before starting the transfer
  • do not overload the rescue machine. More than one trip may be needed to make to complete the rescue.
  • Caution – make sure the floor can take the weight of all machines used during the rescue operation.
  • Call emergency services if:

    • there is an injury, illness or risk of exposure to toxic substances
    • someone has been hanging for any length of time – they might be suffering from suspension trauma
    • the operators on the work platform cannot communicate with rescuers on the ground.

Record the plan, including any rescue plan

  • Record the plan and keep a copy onsite where it can be easily accessed. The length and detail of the plan will depend on the complexity of the task and the risks involved.
  • A simple, low-risk task – such as routine maintenance work in a factory – might only need a brief safety plan; while a more complex and high-risk job will need a more detailed task specific plan.

Involve people and talk to everyone working on the job about the plan

  • A critical part of successful planning is making sure everyone knows what is in the plan. Make sure the plan can be understood by people with low literacy or for who English is a second language.

Review the plan before the job starts

  • Just before the job starts, check that nothing in the tasks or the working environment has changed. If it has, assess what effect that could have on the safety of the job.
  • Communicate any changes to the plan to everyone involved.

3.2 Transporting MEWPs

  • Accidents and injuries can happen when getting MEWPs to and from sites. Any health and safety planning should cover the hazards of moving machinery to and from sites.
  • Transport operators must be competent if they need to drive the MEWP to load or unload it from a truck. Always read, understand and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for loading and unloading the MEWP and the tie down and lifting procedures.
  • Refer to the New Zealand Transport Agency’s The Official New Zealand Road Code for Heavy Vehicle Users for more information on loading transport vehicles.

Getting ready to transport

  • Complete a hazard assessment of the site and decide the best method for loading the MEWP.
  • Remove all loose items, tools and equipment from the platform, deck or tray.
  • Check and secure all engine and access covers, ensure battery box trays and doors are secure. Secure tool bin lids.
  • Ensure turntable lock pins are engaged (slew lock pin, if applicable).
  • Ensure boom lockdowns are in place (pins/ straps/over centre buckles).
  • Secure the boom and basket of any self-propelled booms using the manufacturer’s instructions.

Method of loading MEWPS

  • Park the truck safely and legally.
  • Before loading the MEWP, do a full hazard assessment to identify any soft or uneven ground, overhead power lines, sufficient lighting, traffic and public access.
  • Make sure the operator is wearing the right personal protective equipment, such as high visibility gear, gloves and a total restraint system.
  • Put hazard control measures in place where needed, such as flashing lights, marker cones and traffic management.
  • Check how steep an angle the MEWP can work at to decide how to load it.
  • Where more than one machine is loaded, consider loading methods, weight distribution and restraint methods.
  • Follow safe operating procedures for loading, such as placing the MEWP ready to load, drive on, winch and drive, or free wheel and winch.
  • Once the MEWP is on the truck, secure it with strops, chains and load restraints (using the right tie-down points) as outlined in The Official New Zealand Road Code for Heavy Vehicle Drivers.
  • When loading a slide bed, have chains in place, but pre-tensioning them is optional while lifting the tray.
  • Once the tray is packed up and or the ramps are lifted and secured with pretension chains with dogs, secure the boom basket with the ratchet strap.
  • Check the height and width of the load so the maximum rated capacity is not exceeded.
  • Do one final check of the loading area, truck, load, chains, dogs and straps before leaving the site.

Method of unloading MEWPS

  • Park the truck safely and legally.
  • On arrival, check the drop-off area and conditions for hazards (such as wet or dry ground conditions, overhead power lines, sufficient lighting, traffic, people, uneven ground).
  • Make sure the operator is wearing the right PPE, such as high visibility gear, gloves and a total restraint system.
  • Put hazard control measures in place, such as flashing lights, marker cones and traffic control.
  • Release the basket ratchet strap, chains and twitches and remove rear chains. If driving the MEWP off the truck to unload, leave the front chain for safety. Only remove the chain once the tray is tilted. If using a winch, pre-tension the cable before tilting the tray.
  • Tilt or lower the tray or ramps safely.
  • Drive the MEWP to a safe place then park and secure it. Engage the free wheel hubs or brakes before releasing winch cable.
  • Once the truck is packed up and the ramps are lifted and secure, make a final check of the unloading area and truck before it leaves the site. Make sure chains, twitches, straps and truck outriggers have been packed and stowed away.

3.3 Use of harness systems

  • Operators must wear a harness with the following MEWPs:

    • truck-mounted boom lift
    • self-propelled boom lift
    • trailer-mounted boom lift (cherry pickers)
    • vertical masts, where manufacturer recommends a harness
    • any other boom-type lift, including spider lifts
    • that has a knuckle or pivot arrangement
    • any machine where a risk assessment shows it is necessary.
  • Operators must be harnessed inside the platform because the platforms of the above types of MEWP can tip suddenly when elevating (such as if it hits something or the levelling system fails) or the operator can be catapulted out when driving.
  • Operators in boom-style MEWPs must wear a safety harness with a lanyard – fitted with a short energy absorber or self-retracting lifeline (SRL). The harness must be attached to a certified anchor point. If using an adjustable lanyard, make it as short as practical to keep the operator inside the platform. Select a lanyard length based on the size of the platform of the MEWP being used.
  • Anchor points should be as close to the platform floor as possible.

Harness systems in scissor lifts

  • Before starting work, a hazard assessment should be completed to decide whether a harness system will be needed to complete the job safely.
  • Use the manufacturer's operating instructions to help decide whether a harness is required.
  • Attach any harness used on a scissor lift to a certified anchor point using a lanyard or adjustable lanyard – fitted with a short energy absorber or fit for purpose self retracting lifeline (SRL).
  • When guardrails are in place for normal work duties, harness systems are not generally required; however, workers should wear harnesses if the planned operating work may require them to hook on.
  • People must work inside guardrails and not reach or climb over the rails. Workers need to keep both feet on the work platform.

Harness systems in general

An anchored harness system stops someone falling or being thrown from a platform. Harness systems must be certified to meet the standard AS/NZS 1891.1: Industrial FallArrest Systems and Devices – Harnesses and Ancillary Equipment.

In a boom-type MEWP, people should normally use a full body harness and lanyard with a personal energy absorber. If the boom-type MEWP has a larger platform, operators need a fall arrest harness with personal energy absorber.

The harness system should give the wearer maximum freedom of movement with immediate restraint if the platform hits something or the levelling system fails. Choose the right lanyard length based on the type of MEWP being used.

People using a harness must be competent in how to wear, use and secure it. They must also be competent to follow their company approved rescue plan. A recommended means of demonstrating competence for rescue and recovery when using harness systems is the NZQA Unit Standard 23229 – Use a Safety Harness for Personal Fall Prevention When Working at Height.

A combination of the following NZQA unit standards could also demonstrate competency:

  • NZQA Unit Standard 17600 = Explain Safe Work Practices for Working at Heights
  • NZQA Unit Standards 25045 - Employ Height Safety Equipment in the Workplace.

Getting on and off the platform when it is elevated

Scissor lifts and other elevating work platforms can be used to access work areas.

Where the MEWP’s platform is next to the work area landing and the MEWP is used to access the work area, the landing and platform must be no more than 100mm apart.

If work needs to be done with the guardrails removed, a double lanyard system, fixed to a certified anchor point at all times should be used by workers. Workers should not reach outside the platform.

[image] Harness attached to a certified anchor point on the MEWP
Figure 1: Attach harnesses to a certified anchor point on the MEWP.

Put tags on the base controls to show that the equipment is in use and to stop interference. Where possible, lock out the base controls so they cannot be used.

Place the scissor lift end on when the work platform is next to a landing to stop the scissor lift from moving up and down.

04 / Design

All MEWPs must be designed using sound and accepted engineering practices, and must be manufactured using the best methods and practices.

4.1 General requirements

The design, manufacture, testing and stability testing of new or used machines first entering service in New Zealand, must meet AS/NZS 1418.10 Cranes, Hoists and Winches – Mobile Elevating Work Platforms.

To meet AS/NZS 1418.10, the owner must register any used machines with the manufacturer (or their New Zealand representative), when selling or importing the machine. This ensures the new owner gets all service and safety bulletins.

MEWPs already in service in New Zealand must meet the requirements of one or more of the following Standards:

  • AS/NZS 1418.10 Cranes, Hoists and Winches – Mobile Elevating Work Platforms
  • BS EN 280 Mobile Elevating Work Platforms. Design Calculations. Stability Criteria. Construction. Safety. Examinations and Tests
  • ANSI/SIA A92 series of standards
  • ISO 16368 Mobile Elevating Work Platforms – Design, Calculations, Safety Requirements and Test Methods.

Complying with the above standards is evidence of taking all practicable steps to keep people safe. Make sure this is documented with the MEWP’s records.

You can use materials, designs, methods of assembly, or procedures that are not covered in this guidance, if they achieve the same or better safety outcomes.

Types of mobile elevating work platforms

Scissor lift (SL)
[image] Scissor-lift with scissors extended
For operating on flat, solid surfaces or rough terrain surfaces
Truck mounted (TM)
[image] Truck with hydraulic arm and work platform attached
Mainly used in the electrical or arborist industries. Other common names: bucket truck, cherry picker.
Self-propelled boom lift (BL)
[image] Self-propelled boom style lift with hydraulic arm and work platform attached
For driving on flat solid surfaces and rough terrain surfaces and hard to reach places. Other common names: knuckle boom, cherry picker.
Trailer mounted (TL)
[image] Trailer with hydraulic arm and work platform attached
For getting to hard to reach places. Commonly called a cherry picker.
Vertical mast lift (VL)
[image] Mobile unit on wheels with vertical mast lift and work platform attached
Mainly used on flat solid surfaces. Manually operated or mobilised units.

4.2 Compliance and modification of work platforms

Compliance of all machines currently in New Zealand

To prove a MEWP is safe to use, it needs either:

  • a manufacturer's certificate of compliance to one of the Standards listed in Section 4.1 or, if the manufacturer no longer exists
  • a certificate of compliance from a competent person that the machine meets one of the Standards listed in Section 4.1.

It also needs:

  • a certificate of compliance from a competent person as required by this document (see section 5.1)
  • continuous working records and maintenance records as specified in Section 6.6 of AS2550.10 Cranes, Hoists and Winches – Safe Use – Mobile Elevating Work Platforms
  • proof that the MEWP owner is registered with the manufacturer or their agent so the owner receives safety bulletins and notifications.

Compliance of imported second-hand machines

The importer that is also a supplier must make sure any second-hand MEWP meets the requirements of AS/NZS 1418.10 and Section 4.2 of these guidelines.

The MEWP must have:

  • a manufacturer’s certificate of compliance with Section 4.1 above. It must be current when the MEWP is put into service in New Zealand
  • operating and full workshop/maintenance manuals, in English. If the manuals are translated from another language, the manufacturer must certify that the translations are accurate
  • continuous maintenance records or re-certification by the manufacturer

If an imported second-hand MEWP does not have evidence of a continuous service record, it must have a major inspection before use, as described in Section 5.9 of these guidelines.

Modification of a MEWP

If a MEWP is significantly altered or changed, the owner must get a certificate from the manufacturer or (if the manufacturer no longer exists) a report from a competent person to confirm that the MEWP still meets the requirements of these guidelines.

4.3 Machine controls

Detailed requirements for control systems are found in AS/NZS 1418.10: Cranes, Hoists and Winches – Part 10: Mobile Elevating Work Platforms.

Switching on and using the MEWP

The operator must be able to see the direction of travel and the movement of the extending structure from the controls. The MEWP must only move when the controls are activated. Controls must automatically return to ‘off’ or ‘neutral’ when released and be protected to prevent someone accidentally turning them on. The operator must be safe from moving parts when using the controls.

Direction of movement

All controls must have words or symbols that show the direction of the MEWP’s movements. Protect the controls against faults that could cause the MEWP to move in a direction other than that selected by the operator.

Controls must be strong enough to stand up to normal use. A guard must be in place to prevent accidental activation of hand controls.

Work platform controls: location, accessibility, protection

Controls must be on the work platform and in reach of the operator.

  • Protect the controls against:

    Clearly mark platform control boxes with which way up they go if they are not permanently attached.
    • faults that could cause the MEWP to move in a direction other than the one selected by the operator
    • being accidentally turned on.
  • Foot controls should have non-slip surfaces and be easy to clean.
  • Install guards at least 50mm above the highest point of the hand controls.

Duplicate controls

Provide duplicate controls at ground level so the platform can be returned in an emergency. The ground level controls must override the work platform controls.

Have a locking mechanism so the MEWP can only be moved from one, preselected control station. The ground level controls must override all other controls, including the platform emergency-stop control.

Emergency stops

Every control position must have a red emergency-stop control, in line with AS/NZS 1418.10. This standard references AS 4024.1604, Safety of Machinery – Design of Controls, Interlocks and Guarding – Emergency Stop – Principles for Design.

Other requirements

Electrical systems

MEWP controls should have:

  • electrical switches controlling specific safety functions
  • pilot and solenoid valves stopping any movement if the power fails
  • no movement on start up or return of power after a failure, unless through deliberate action by the operator
  • a safety device and ‘hold to run’ controls that override the emergency-stop control
  • an overriding emergency system in an easy to reach place that returns the platform to a safe position in an emergency, with features that stop misuse
  • a speed limiting device.
Hydraulic controls

Mechanically-actuated hydraulic control valves that control any movement of the MEWP must be full-flow with spring return to ‘off’ to manage the risks of unintended motion.

4.4 Safety features

This section covers the minimum requirements for safety features outlined in AS/NZS 1418.10: Cranes, Hoists and Winches – Part 10: Mobile Elevating Work Platforms.

General features

Warning systems

MEWPs must have:

  • out-of-level safety interlocks and/or alarms
  • warning devices (such as motion alarms), warning lights and alarms, flashing work lights and a horn.
Brakes and safety systems
  • Brakes on self-propelled platforms must have a fail-safe system.
  • All safety signage must be in English and readable.
  • The slewing mechanism must be fitted with a service brake or similar device, and have a fail-safe design.
  • The machine must have maintenance safety features, such as a safety bar, so maintenance can be done safely under or in machine.
Hydraulic systems
  • Hydraulic systems must be designed so the platform will not freefall if a hose or fitting fails. Do not use velocity valves.
  • All hydraulic systems must have fail-safes.

MEWPs must have:

  • guards on all dangerous parts, especially sharp, hot or moving parts and trapping hazards.
  • interlocking outriggers, so the machine cannot lift the platform unless outriggers are in a safe position, and stop the outriggers being moved with the platform up
  • travel safety interlocks so the machine goes at a safe speed while driving with the platform up.
Emergency stop and isolating function controls
  • All controls must have a ‘dead-man function’ so they automatically stop or return to neutral when released, such as, a trigger with a joystick or foot switch on a boom-type machine.
  • An emergency-stop control must stop all movement or the engine when pressed. Each control station must have a clearly marked, red emergency-stop control.
  • Ground level controls must override controls on the platform using a clearly marked switch.
  • Labels must clearly list everything the controls do in clear English and show the direction of any movement. Decals (labels) on the chassis should show direction of travel or movement.
  • The operation manual must be in English and stored in a weather-proof container.
  • Emergency descent instructions must be in the operator manual and displayed next to the emergency controls.
Anchor points
  • If installing an anchor point to an existing MEWP, a chartered professional engineer (CPEng) should assess and certify the type of anchor to be used before and after it is installed.
  • They must also confirm that the anchor point has passed any testing needed after installation.

Platform and guardrails

The platform must have a self-closing and self-latching entry gate. The gate must have kick-plates to stop debris falling under the gate. The gate must open inwards. A drop bar is enough as long as:

  • a kick plate is used
  • the drop bar stops in line with the mid-rail, and
  • the top rail is at the same height as the top hand rail.

The guardrail must be at least 950mm high.

The platform floor must be non-slip and self-draining.

A safe way to access the platform must be provided. If access is by steps or a fixed ladder, the gap between steps or rungs must be uniform and no more than 300mm. The stepsand rungs must be non-slip.

The platform should have side walls or guardrails with mid-rails and toe boards.

Fuel and exhaust systems

  • Protect fuel lines for engines from engine and exhaust heat. Some industries also require safety measures like spark arrestors and external fuel cut-offs.
  • Exhaust systems must have mufflers and be set up to keep fumes away from operators, so they are not at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

4.5 Markings, documentation and records

The following are minimum requirements for markings, labels, signage, documentation and records of maintenance and inspection for MEWPs.

All MEWPs must have:

  1. safety inspection certification, including a six-monthly inspection certificate and major inspection certificate (where needed) permanently attached and displayed prominently.
  2. a compliance plate with the following information in permanent lettering:

    • make, model, serial number, and manufacturer’s name and address
    • date of manufacture and, if different, commissioning date
    • design standard
    • rated capacity in kilograms
    • the maximum number of people, refer to Figure 3
    • maximum platform height (not all plates state this)
    • maximum wind speed and operating gradient
    • for electrically insulated machines, the working voltage
    • any special warnings, cautions or restrictions needed to use the MEWP safely; the rated capacity for each configuration must be shown, such as:

      • where a work platform has different capacities at different heights or reaches
      • outrigger settings
      • wind ratings or side-loading
      • the words: ‘Read manual for operating and servicing details’.
  3. Manufacturers, importers that are suppliers or agents for imported MEWPs, (new or second-hand) must provide a comprehensive operating and maintenance manual, in English, to customers. The manual must include the following:

    • full operating instructions
    • lubrication schedule
    • routine checks
    • restrictions on the use of the machine
    • advice on any matter that could affect the safe use of the machine

    Note that if the MEWP was designed and manufactured to an international standard it should have a manual available in English, certified or produced by the manufacturer.

  4. Essential operating and maintenance instructions must be permanently displayed or stored in a obvious place on the MEWP.

Owners must keep continuous working records and maintenance records for the MEWP in line with Section 6.6 of AS 2550.10 Cranes, Hoists and Winches – Safe Use – Mobile Elevating Work Platforms. This information should also be in the MEWP’s logbook, refer to section 5 of this guideline.

[image] View over operator's shoulder as he reads MEWP instruction guide
Figure 2: Before starting work, operators should be familiar with the type of MEWP they are using
[image] Decals for rated capacity displayed on the MEWP
Figure 3: Decals for rated capacity displayed on the MEWP.

05 / Maintenance, inspection and repair

People maintaining MEWPs and the competent person must have access to the current versions of the following standards, AS 2550.10 and AS/NZS 1418.10.

5.1 Logbook and registers

The MEWP logbook and register is a record of pre-operation inspections and routine inspections. It must also record any maintenance. The logbook and register must be kept with the MEWP and be readily available for inspection.


The MEWP owner must keep all records in the way described in Section 6.6 of AS 2550.10. At a minimum, keep a summary of the following in the logbook:

  • daily pre-operation reports for at least the last 14 days of operation, or since the last routine inspection
  • a summary statement of the last routine inspection
  • a summary statement of the last major inspection
  • a summary statement of the last six-monthly inspection
  • action taken or repairs carried out to fix faults or damaged parts.

The owner must have available documentation stating the MEWP has been inspected by a competent person (including their identity and qualifications) and is safe to use. The owner must record all checks, adjustments, replacement of parts, repairs and inspections done and all irregularities or damage affecting the machine’s safe use.

Records must be kept to show that the MEWP meets all maintenance requirements. AS 2550.10 recommends that MEWPs without continuous working and maintenance records need a major inspection.

Any external service provider working on MEWPs should also keep records of work they have undertaken.

5.2 Maintenance

Use the MEWP manufacturer’s approved maintenance manual (or a certified translation) for all maintenance. A competent person must complete all elements of the manufacturer’s prescribed maintenance schedule.

If there is no manual, follow the inspection and maintenance schedules outlined in AS 2550.10: Cranes, Hoists and Winches – Safe Use – Mobile Elevating Work Platforms.

Establish a preventive maintenance programme, based on the working environment, how often the MEWP is used and the severity of conditions in which it is used.

When replacing parts use identical or equivalent parts for the specific type of MEWP.

If a fault with a MEWP develops, repair it with advice from the manufacturer. Correct any safety related faults before using the MEWP again.

5.3 Inspection

Pre-operation inspection

The operator must give the MEWP a visual inspection and functional test before using it. This is called a pre-operation operator safety check. The checks should include the items listed in the operator’s manual, the logbook and in the table below.

Figures 4 – 6 show the various safety features of specific types of MEWPs and components that should be checked before use.


Visual inspection

Functional test

Check six-monthly certificate current  
Platform and base controls
Emergency controls and retrieval system  
Visual and audible alarms  
Personal protective equipment, including anchor points  
Air, hydraulic and fuel system leaks  
Cables and wiring harness for security and damage  
Loose and missing parts  
Tyres, wheels
Placards, labels, warnings, control markings
and operating manuals are on the MEWP
Outriggers, stabilisers  
Guardrail system including gates with self-closing
Control descent devices where fitted  
Slew brake system  
Safety switches and interlocks  
Structural defects or damage  
Drive and speed functions work correctly, including
speed-limiting devices

Table 1: Table 6.4.2 of AS 2550.10: Cranes, Hoists and Winches – Safe Use – Mobile Elevating Work Platforms.

[image] Self-propelled boom lift showing short explanations of typical features
Figure 4: Typical features of self-propelled boom lifts
[image] Scissor-lift showing short explanations of typical features
Figure 5: Typical features of scissor-lifts.
[image] Trailer mounted boom-lift showing short explanations of typical features
Figure 6: Typical features of trailer mounted boom-lift.
[image] An operator checks the MEWP's controls before starting work
Figure 7: The operator checks the MEWP's controls before starting work.
[image] Operator’s manual inside a weather proof container attached to the MEWP
Figure 8: The operator’s manual must be kept with the MEWP in a weather proof container.

Routine inspection

The owner, hirer and supplier must do routine inspections on all MEWPs at least every 3 months (as described in Section 6.4.3 of AS 2550.10: Cranes, Hoists and Winches – Safe Use – Mobile Elevating Work Platforms). If the MEWP is for hire, then a routine inspection between hires should be completed.

A competent person must complete all routine inspection and maintenance, based on the severity of use of the MEWP, and as recommended by the manufacturer.

The inspection procedure should include a check that the current logbook and operator’s manual must be up-to-date and kept with the MEWP in a weather proof container.

For full inspection requirements refer to the manufacturer’s service manual.

Examples of items an inspection should cover are:

  • all functions and their controls for speed, smoothness of operation and limits of motion
  • all emergency and safety devices, including interlocks and emergency lowering devices
  • base or ground controls, including the provisions for overriding of upper platform controls
  • adjustment, wear and damage on all chain and cable mechanisms
  • lubrication of all moving parts, inspection of filter elements and fluid levels
  • visual inspection of structural members and welds
  • visual inspection (and measurements as necessary) of critical parts, such as brakes, gears, fasteners, pins, shafts, wire ropes, sheaves, locking devices, all guardrails and guarding, anchor points, all attachments and connections, electrical contractors and all other equipment
  • signage, including warning signs, decals and control markings
  • wear on tyres and damage to wheel rims
  • corrosion (rust).

A written report must be provided after the inspection. Do not use the MEWP until any safety-related faults are fixed.

5.4 Six-monthly inspection

Operational test and check

A competent person must thoroughly examine the MEWP after an accident, incident, or major repair or modification, or at least every 6 months. The competent person must have access to the manufacturer’s approved maintenance manual for the type of MEWP being certified.

This inspection should include:

  • all elements of the periodic inspection described in Section of AS 2550.10: Cranes, Hoists and - winches – Safe Use Elevating Work Platforms
  • the routine inspection described in Section 5.3 of these guidelines
  • any inspection or maintenance recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Any faults must be fixed before the MEWP can be certified and used again.


A legible and durable certificate should be attached to the MEWP near the ground controls or the platform entrance. This certificate should include the CBIP Number of the competent person and/or the manufacturer’s identifier. This certificate should include at least the details shown below in Figure 10

[image] Operator's hands holding an open logbook
Figure 9: The operator’s logbook should be kept in a pouch located within the basket on the machine.
[image] Six monthly test certificate example
Figure 10: Example six-monthly test certificate

Competent person for inspection

Only a competent person can complete a six-monthly, enhanced or major inspection of a MEWP.

A means of demonstrating competency is a certificate of competence or proficiency from a certification board. In New Zealand this is the Certification Board for Inspection Personnel New Zealand (CBIP).

Manufacturer’s employees who inspect, service and certify MEWPs do not need to be registered with CBIP but they should be able to demonstrate the same, or higher, levels of competency.

If a manufacturer contracts out servicing, inspection and certification, the contractor should be certified by CBIP for inspection or be able to display the same or a higher level of competence.

5.5 Electrical insulation testing

Where a MEWP is electrically insulated, carry out electrical insulation tests at least every 6 months to validate the working voltage. The testing certificate should be clearly displayed.

Complete these tests as specified in AS 2550.10 Cranes, Hoists and Winches – Safe Use – Mobile Elevating Work Platforms, AS/NZS 1418.10 Cranes, Hoists and Winches – Part 10: Mobile Elevating Work Platforms and their referenced standards. Section 7.1 of AS/NZS 1418.10 gives the testing standards used in New Zealand. Keep a record of all test results and make them available for inspection.

5.6 Pat testing

Any MEWP with parts powered from 240v mains electricity (such as battery charger, AC motors, ground to platform AC power extension, and residual current device (RCD) devices) needs an inspection and a portable appliance test (PAT).

The MEWP must be tested and tagged in line with AS/NZS 3760: In-Service Safety Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment.

AS/NZS 3012: Electrical Installations – Construction and Demolition Sites outlines the testing and tagging needed for equipment used on construction sites.

Both the above Standards require a competent person or a suitably qualified and licensed electrical worker (such as an electrician) to carry out the testing and tagging. Clearly display all tags.

5.7 Acoustic emission testing of fibreglass booms

In addition to the six-monthly inspection, a competent person or organisation must do an acoustic emission test on all MEWPs fitted with a fibreglass or FRP (fibreglass reinforced plastic) boom. The test must be done at least every 24 months, or sooner if a competent person recommends it is required.

The test must meet the standards in AS 4748: Acoustic Emission Testing of Fiberglass Insulated Booms on Elevating Work Platforms, or a similar procedure. Testing may only be carried out by a competent person or an organization deemed competent to carry out acoustic emission testing.

Display the certificate of compliance near the ground controls or the platform entrance. In addition, the owner of the machine must keep the test reports:

  • to allow inspection when the WorkSafe Health and Safety Inspector or user of the machine requests it
  • so that the history of the boom may be reviewed to find out how much it has deteriorated.

Re-test the boom if the machine has an accident or is misused, making the boom potentially unsafe, even if the certificate is current.

If the FRP boom fails the acoustic emission test, do not use the machine until the boom is replaced or repaired and it passes the test.

5.8 Enhanced periodic inspections

Every 5 years the MEWP must have all critical parts inspected and tested, where appropriate, to meet AS 2550.10: Cranes, Hoists and Winches – Safe Use – Mobile Elevating Work Platforms. These enhanced periodic inspections must be done in line with the manufacturer’s inspection programme. Where possible the manufacturer must authorise all enhanced periodic inspections.

If a MEWP has been in service for 10 years, it must have had all inspections, including a major inspection, to stay in service.

This regime can be changed with instructions from the manufacturer that meet the criteria in Appendix C of AS 2550.10.

5.9 Major inspections

Major inspections and the related maintenance are described in Section 6.4.5 of AS 2550.10. The following MEWPs need a major inspection, unless they have already had an enhanced periodic inspection (as described in Section of AS 2550.10):

  • a MEWP that has been in use for 10 years and hasn’t had an enhanced periodic inspection
  • a MEWP that is being re-commissioned or imported, whatever age, that does not have continuous working and maintenance records, as required by Section 6.6 of AS 2550.10
  • a MEWP that has been in use for 5 years since its 10 year major inspection.

Seek guidance from the manufacturer before starting a major inspection and keep evidence of this request with the MEWP’s records. This should include advice on any safety or engineering upgrades and safety bulletins.

AS 2550.10 states a major inspection involves examination of critical components as identified by the manufacturer or a competent person. Where necessary, strip down the MEWP and remove paint, grease and corrosion from critical components to allow a complete and thorough inspection.

A component is critical if its failure would risk the health and safety of people using or near the MEWP. A competent person should identify the critical components using the definition in AS2550.10.

Where necessary means if needed to make sure the critical component can be thoroughly inspected. A complete and thorough inspection means looking at each part, and doing other non destructive tests as needed.

Strip down almost certainly requires complete disassembly.

5.10 Repairs

Carry out all repairs in a way that ensures the MEWP meets the current specifications for the particular model and meets the criteria in AS 2550.10: Cranes, Hoists and Winches – Safe Use – General Requirements.

Seek the manufacturer’s advice for all critical repairs, including welding, on the correct repair procedure. Keep proof of this request with the MEWP’s records. Do all repairs in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and the MEWP’s operational manual. Modern structural materials have specialised repair procedures. Some parts cannot be repaired and must be replaced instead.

Qualified welders must do all welding repairs on a MEWP and a qualified and competent person must inspect the welds.

Where the manufacturer’s advice is not available, a competent person should sign off the repair work.

Manufacturer’s spare parts should be used. The manufacturer must approve the use of any non manufacturer structural components unless the manufacturer no longer exists, in which case a competent person must approve the component. Keep the verification reports on record.

[image] An operator wearing safety gear and standing on the work platform inspects the MEWP before use
Figure 11: Inspect the MEWP before use.

06 / MEWP operator training requirements

An employer or principal, who tells someone to use a MEWP, must make sure that the operator is adequately trained by a competent person and can demonstrate their competency before using any equipment.

The operator must get training on the type of MEWP they will be using. The operator must be supervised during the training period until the person is considered competent to operate the MEWP.

6.1 General training

The MEWP operator training should cover at least:

  • legal requirements
  • getting to know the operator’s manual
  • hazard management – identifying, assessing and controlling hazards
  • equipment and safety features
  • prestart (pre-operational) inspection
  • control facilities and positions
  • limits of the machine – rated capacity, wind rating – and machine weight
  • moving and positioning a MEWP
  • transporting – including loading and unloading (where required)
  • working near overhead power lines
  • using a harness
  • refuelling tools and battery charging
  • reporting problems and incidents
  • emergency retrieval systems
  • emergency rescue plan.

For the purposes of operating a MEWP, a competent person is a person who has achieved and demonstrated competency in the safe use of a particular type of MEWP.

One means of demonstrating competency is through completing nationally recognized MEWPs NZQA unit standards or an equivalent or higher qualification. Any course must cover the requirements of AS2550.10: Cranes, Hoists and Winches – Safe Use – Mobile Elevating Work Platforms and course providers should be able to offer evidence of this. Competency should also be assessed through supervision during the use of the equipment.

The current recommended NZQA unit standards for MEWPs are:

  • Unit Standard 23966v1: Describe Types of Elevating Work Platforms (EWPs) and Legislative Requirements For Their Use (Note: People need to do this unit standard before unit standards 23960 through 23964)
  • Unit Standard 23960v1: Assess the Worksite, Prepare and Operate a Scissor Lift Elevating Work Platform (EWP)
  • Unit Standard 23961v1: Assess the Worksite, Prepare and Operate a Truck Mounted Elevating Work Platform (EWP)
  • Unit Standard 23962v1: Assess the Worksite, Prepare and Operate a Self-Propelled Boom Lift Elevating Work Platform (EWP)
  • Unit Standard 23963v1: Assess the Worksite, Prepare and Operate a Trailer Mounted Elevating Work Platform (EWP)
  • Unit Standard 23964v1: Assess the Worksite, Prepare and Operate a Vertical Lift Elevating Work Platform (EWP)
  • Unit Standard 17259: Operate an Elevated Work Platform Vehicle for Arboriculture.

A MEWP operator must also be able to demonstrate that they have the knowledge and skills needed to do effective hazard and risk assessment in their operating location.








Scissor Lift (SL)


Truck Mounted (TM)


Self-Propelled Boom Lift (BM)


Trailer Mounted (TL)


Vertical Lift (VL)


Table 2: Unit standard requirements by MEWP type.

Only a competent person can deliver any on the- job training, operators must be supervised until they are judged to be competent.

6.2 Getting to know your MEWP

Employers or principals are also responsible for making sure operators are familiar with each type and model of the MEWP that they will use.

They need to check that the operator:

  • has made sure the correct manuals are kept on the MEWP
  • understands the manuals and refers to them as needed
  • knows the purpose of all controls and what they do
  • knows what safety devices are installed and the operating differences of that particular model of the MEWP
  • knows how to use the MEWP‘s emergency retrieval systems.

6.3 Refresher training and assessment

Operators need regular refresher training that covers the requirements in Sections 6.1 and 6.2 of these guidelines. The length between training sessions should not exceed three years.

6.4 Working at height

A recommended means of achieving competence for harness use is the NZQA Unit Standard 23229 – Use a Safety Harness for Personal Fall Prevention When Working at Height. An operator may also be able to demonstrate equivalent knowledge and skills or have an equivalent or a higher international qualification.

Where any person is working at height, a recommended means of achieving competence is the NZQA Unit Standard 17600 – Explain Safe Work Practices for Working at Height, or equivalent or a higher international qualification.

A combination of the following NZQA unit standards could also demonstrate competency:

  • NZQA Unit Standard 17600 - Explain Safe Work Practices for Working at Heights
  • NZQA Unit Standards 25045 - Employ Height Safety Equipment in the Workplace.

07 / Appendices

The Health and Safety in Employment Act (1992) (HSE Act) is the overarching legislation governing health and safety at work.

7.1 Legal framework

The HSE Act is supported by Regulations including the Health and Safety in Employment Regulations (1995). Everyone must obey the HSE Act and its Regulations.

Most people in workplaces have duties under the HSE Act. A full copy of the Act and its Regulations can be downloaded (free) at www.legislation.govt.nz(external link).

7.2 Duty holder responsibilities

The HSE Act creates a number of duties for most people connected with workplaces. This section outlines duty holders’ responsibilities. There are a number of Regulations, codes of practice and industry best practice guidance documents that support the HSE Act.

The HSE Act and its Regulations are the law. Codes of practice, guidelines and other guidance material endorsed by WorkSafe NZ is considered current best practice for health and safety.

Employer responsibilities

Employers have a responsibility to make the workplace safe for employees, and make sure that work done by employees does not harm others (such as other workers or visitors to the workplace). To achieve this employers are expected to:

  • systematically identify hazards
  • systematically manage those hazards by eliminating them, isolating them or minimizing them, in that order
  • put effective control measures in place where hazards are to be isolated or minimised
  • provide suitable protective clothing and equipment to staff and ensure they use it
  • give staff safety information
  • train or supervise staff so work is done safely
  • monitor the environment and employees’ health to ensure their work is not harming them
  • provide opportunities for employees to participate in all of the above
  • record and investigate workplace accidents
  • report any serious harm suffered by employees to WorkSafe NZ.

Employee responsibilities

An employee is defined by the HSE Act as any person of any age who is employed by an employer to do any work (other than residential work) for hire or reward under an employment agreement, that is, anyone who is getting paid to do a job as an employee.

Employees must take all practicable steps to keep themselves safe in the workplace and ensure they do not harm others. This includes both what they do and what they don’t do (such as not using safety gear). Employees have a responsibility to identify and report hazards, follow the safe work procedures that are put in place by their employer and wear any required personal protective equipment and clothing, and report any accidents or incidents.

Employers should make it clear to employees that they have to use safety equipment and to wear protective clothing when needed. An employee’s responsibility will often increase with knowledge and seniority, but overall responsibility for a safe workplace remains with the employer.

Practicable steps the employee can take include reporting any hazards or incidents to the employer, so the employer can investigate and put safeguards in place.

Principals and contractors

A principal to a contract is responsible for the health and safety of contractors and subcontractors who are individuals, and employees of contractors and subcontractors. In some cases a principal might have multiple duties, such as also being an employer, and a person who controls a place of work.

Putting work out to contract doesn’t remove any of the principal’s health and safety obligations. Legal responsibilities cannot be transferred to another party.

Section 18 of the HSE Act requires all principals to a contract to take ‘all practicable steps’ to ensure contractors, subcontractors who are individuals, and employees of contractors and subcontractors are not harmed while working on the contracted tasks. All practicable steps include having a hazard management process and plan in place and managing hazards effectively.

To help keep contractors safe, the principal must:

  • scope the work for health and safety issues and identify the significant hazards
  • assess the capability of potential contractors
  • select contractors on the basis of their health and safety planning, performance and commitment
  • award the contract and outline agreed health and safety standards, systems and processes
  • monitor the contractor to make sure they are meeting the agreed health and safety standards
  • review whether there was a successful outcome at the end of the contract.

For more details see A Principal’s Guide to Contracting to Meet the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 plus its summary, Health and Safety in Contracting Situations.


Someone is self-employed if they are working (other than as an employee) doing one or more of the following – providing services for gain or reward under contract for services, or selling goods. They may be carrying on a business as a sole trader or in a partnership.

A self-employed person is responsible for his/her own health and safety and must ensure that their actions or inaction do not harm other people. A self-employed person is responsible for doing relevant training and knowing how to do their work safely.

Person who controls a place of work

A person who controls a place of work is:

  1. the owner, lessee, sub-lessee, occupier or person in possession of the place or any part of it or
  2. the owner, lessee, sub-lessee or bailee (person entrusted to look after goods) of any plant in the place.

This may include the person who leases the MEWP, a scaffold supplier or an installer who also owns the equipment.

Employee participation

The HSE Act requires employers to involve employees in health and safety. There are a number of ways to involve staff, such as:

  • discussing health and safety responsibilities
  • having employees involved in safety assessments
  • holding toolbox meetings
  • electing health and safety representatives.

Employers must give employees a chance to take part effectively in processes for health and safety improvement in the workplace. In any workplace with more than 30 employees (or where an employee or union representative asks), the employer must develop, set up and maintain a system for employees to take part in health and safety.

If people cannot agree on a system for how employees can take part in health and safety, the HSE Act sets out default requirements.

Elected employee health and safety representatives can take paid leave to go on approved training courses.

If a trained employee health and safety representative finds a hazard in the workplace, they should bring it to the employer's attention. If the employer does not resolve the issue, the representative can issue a hazard notice.

Employers and employees must deal with each other in good faith when seeking agreement on setting up and maintaining a system for employee participation in health and safety.

7.3 Obligations for employers, owners, suppliers and principals using MEWPs

The MEWP inspection and certification system is there to help duty holders meet their obligations under the HSE Act.

Where employees or contractors use MEWPs, their employers or principals must take all practicable steps to make sure that the MEWPs are designed, built and maintained so they are safe to use (Section 6 and 18, HSE Act).

Anyone who sells, hires out or otherwise supplies MEWPs must also take all practicable steps to make sure the MEWP are designed, built and maintained so they are safe to use (Section 18A, HSE Act).

Having a current inspection certificate does not fulfil the obligations of employers, principals, and suppliers as the MEWP must be safe to use. These guidelines give advice on how duty holders can fulfil their duties.

7.4 Inspection and certification requirements

Duty holders should meet the requirements of the HSE Act in terms of maintenance if the MEWP has had the major inspections, six-monthly inspections and pre-operational daily checks in line with these guidelines and they have fixed any faults found.

The obligation to ensure safety stays with the duty holder. If the MEWP has a certificate, but the certificate was not issued in line with these guidelines, then the duty holder may not be meeting the requirements of the HSE Act.

Duty holders may choose not to use these guidelines when having their MEWP inspected. However, they must take steps which are equal to or better than these guidelines in order to ensure that the MEWPs are safe to use.

Duty holders must recognise that simply getting an inspection certificate is not enough to comply with these guidelines. The major inspections have to be done to the standard outlined in this guideline and the associated standards listed in the publications section 7.10.

Duty holders must be satisfied that a competent person carried out the inspection. If the MEWP is not inspected and maintained in line with these best practice guidelines, your insurance company may refuse to cover any insurance claims for property damage, public liability and breaches of the HSE Act.

7.5 Notification of hazardous works and serious harm

Notification of particular hazardous work

Employers and the person in control of the workplace must give WorkSafe NZ at least 24 hours’ notice before doing any hazardous work (as defined below).

These notices help WorkSafe NZ plan workplace visits to promote safety for everyone in or near a workplace.

Notify WorkSafe NZ by either:

Work that needs to be notified to Worksafe NZ

This is defined by the Regulations as:

  1. Any restricted work, as defined in section 2 of the Health and Safety in Employment (Asbestos) Regulations 1998
  2. Any commercial logging or tree-felling
  3. Any construction work where:

    • workers could fall 5 metres or more (excluding work on a two-storey house, a power or telephone line, or carried out from a ladder only, or minor or routine maintenance or repair work)
    • scaffolding from which someone could fall 5 metres or more while being put up or dismantled
    • people have to work in an excavation that is more than 1.5 metres deep and which is deeper than it is wide at the top.
    • workers need to work underground in any kind of tunnel or drive, no matter what sort of timbering or support there is
    • an excavation’s excavated face is steeper than one horizontal to two vertical, and any face that is taller than 5 metres
    • explosives are used or being stored for use
    • workers need to breathe air that is or has been compressed or breathes a respiratory medium other than air
    • An appliance (other than a mobile crane, excavator or forklift) has to lift weights of more than half a tonne (500kg) or lift weights higher than 5 metres.

7.6 Hazards faced when using a MEWP

These hazards need to be assessed in terms of the environment, the type of MEWP and work activity being undertaken.

This list does not cover all hazards of working with MEWPs. It is based on ISO 16368 – Mobile Elevating Platforms – Design, Calculations, Safety Requirements and Test Methods – Annex H.


Mechanical hazards:

  • Crushing
  • Entanglement
  • Impact
  • Friction or abrasion
  • Cutting or severing
  • Ejection of parts
  • Loss of stability
  • Slip, trip, fall hazards
  • Failure of energy supply

Electrical hazards:

  • Electrical contact
  • Electrostatic
  • Thermal radiation
  • External influences on electrical equipment (e.g. power surge or lightning strike)

Environmental hazards:

  • Noise
  • Weather
  • Heat or cold
  • Fumes
  • Wind

Ergonomic hazards:

  • Constrained postures
  • Poor lighting
  • Mental overload

Operational hazards:

  • Overloading caused by sail effect of objects on windy days
  • Hazardous environment
  • Manual force
  • Poor visibility
  • Starting/moving self-propelled machinery
  • Movement from pedestrian-controlled machinery
  • Uncontrolled movement
  • Rolling over
  • Poor access
  • Loading/overloading
  • Lifting materials or people
  • Falls from working at height
  • Falling objects

7.7 Example checklist to pick the right MEWP

[image] Example checklist to pick the right mewp

7.8 Example MEWPs hazard assessment checklist

[image] Example checklist to pick the right MEWP

7.9 Example MEWP prestart inspection checklist

Use the following checklist if you need a separate record of the Logbook Pre-operation inspection (safety checks) done by the operator (or other site workers) before using a MEWP.

[image] Example mewp prestart inspection checklist

7.10 Publications and reference material

[image] Publications and reference material