CERTIFIED TRAINING is urgently needed to safeguard workers operating suspended access platforms, an industry authority said this week.
Reverend Malcolm James, a former Health & Safety Executive principal inspector and independent consultant on suspended access in the construction industry, claimed as many as 95% of accidents on suspended access platforms are caused by human error.
'The vast majority of accidents could have been prevented if workers had been properly trained,' he stated.
James said poor maintenance on site also figured significantly, contributing to around 40% of accidents.
Suspended access platforms, including the Beeche Systems platform involved in last week's Avonmouth bridge tragedy, were inherently safe if properly operated, said James.
European Union CEN standards and British Standards codes of practice have recently placed stringent controls on the design, manufacture and installation of platforms. It was time for codes governing operation of platforms to catch up, he urged.
Suspended Access Manufacturers Association safety spokesman Trevor Fennel said that although certified training could not prepare operatives for all working conditions, it would prevent people having to learn on the job.
Training is vital in establishing a proper understanding of safety procedures, he added. 'When you're working on a suspended platform there are certain precautions you should take. Many people don't know what to do if there's an emergency.'