Safety has been the primary objective of the Elevated Work Platform Association (EWPA) since its inception in 2003, says its CEO, Phil Tindle.
“Mobile elevating work platforms are useful but complex pieces of equipment that are often used for access in hazardous areas. The aim of EWPA is to promote the best and safest practices for the use and maintenance of EWPs, with a major focus on the person in the basket. The biggest risk is usually with the operator rather than the machine.”
He says the establishment of the Association was triggered by the rapid emergence of EWPs in the early 2000s.
“These machines were very new. In the past people had used scaffolding and ladders, but now we had mechanical equipment taking people to greater heights. If something did go wrong and a fall occurred there was the potential for more serious harm or even death.”
The formation of EWPA was spearheaded by a group of business owners who worked within the industry and recognised the need for safety regulations, training, and the setting of formal industry standards.
“This group included Bryan Nunweek, owner of Centre Hire, Dean Manley who owned New Zealand Access at the time, and Roy Norgrove owner of Access Specialties, along with a number of others.”
In the early days the Association worked closely with the Department of Labour around the compliance aspects of EWPs in the workplace.
A Code of Practice, referred to as the ‘Blue Book’ was developed soon after the formation of the Association, which became out of date and was superseded in 2014 by new Best Practice Guidelines for Mobile Elevating Work Platforms developed in conjunction with WorkSafe.
“The intention of the new document was to make it less ambiguous and provide greater clarity, particularly around operator competency as well as EWP inspection and maintenance requirements. This document is available on both the EWPA and WorkSafe websites.”
The EWPA was set up as a not-for profit association and was run purely on a voluntary basis until three years ago, when it took on Phil Tindle as its CEO in a part time paid position.
Phil is a trade qualified automotive technician, who has owned several successful businesses and served as a volunteer firefighter for over 20 years. He has been CEO of the Hire Industries Association of New Zealand (HIANZ) for the last 11 years so is able to bring good synergies to his role with EWPA, considering access is a big part of the hire industry, he says.
“At the time I was taken on as CEO, EWPA had no full time resource and was struggling to maintain the momentum it needed to carry forward a lot of its objectives. With my understanding of both the hire and access sectors it has worked well.”
Although the organisations are closely aligned and led by Phil, they continue to operate completely independently with separate board of directors, he says.
“EWPA has its trade show within the HIANZ Annual Conference, but aside from that there is really no crossover, with independent boards working on their own business.”
Health and safety continues to be the big focus, from both an operating perspective, and relating to the environment in which the machine is working.
EWPA issues Safety Alerts to ensure EWP operators and owners are made aware of any known concerns or issue.
It has also collaborated with WorkSafe, ACC and other industry stakeholders to define competence for EWP maintenance in a framework administered by the Certification Board for Inspection Personnel (CBIP)
“To achieve compliance and ensure their insurance coverage, end users should only use EWPs that are certified by a CBIP inspector.”
The Association’s members now include hire companies, manufacturers, suppliers, end users, trainers and specialised support and service companies who cover the full spectrum of the EWP industry.
Phil says there are numerous benefits of becoming a member.
“The EWPA website lists our members’ businesses under a range of categories, which can reach potential customers. Our members can also gain access to networking opportunities at national and international conferences; as well as industry meetings, lobbying, training courses and events.”
EWPA regularly provides its members with industry updates, support and advice; provides them with access to industry standards and Best Practice material, offers member-only discounts, and has a members only area on its website with further benefits.