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Rescue of Persons from MEWPs

When MEWPs are used there is always the risk of persons in the work platform becoming stranded at height due to MEWP malfunction, breakdown or an outside influence. This risk can be significantly reduced through using well maintained equipment, conducting a pre-use inspection, including function checks and the MEWP being operated by a trained, competent operator. These factors will significantly reduce any potential risk. It is however, still essential that plans are put in place to rescue persons in the work platform.

NOTE: Whilst every care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the material contained within this guidance, no liability is accepted by the authors in respect of the information given. Compliance with this guidance does notgive automatic assurance of compliance with legislative requirements. It is the duty holders’ responsibility toensure they comply with the legal requirements relevant to safe work at height.



Health and safety legislation requires that safe systems of work are in place for all work activities and the references for the requirement to provide a means of safe rescue are:


  • Work at Height Regulations 2005 – Regulation 4(2)

  • Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 – Regulation 5(1)(d)

  • Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 – Regulation 3

  • CDM 2015 - Regulation 30 on Emergency Procedures

  • The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 - Sections 2 & 3 also set out general duties that require this.

Responsibility for rescue

The primary duty for ensuring that there are adequate resources for planning and carrying out rescue of persons from a MEWP rests with the user1 of that MEWP. They must liaise closely with the Principal Contractor if it is a construction site as defined by the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM 2015), or with the site occupier for non- construction premises, to ensure that any aspect of the emergency plan requiring their input can be actioned.

In the case of a hired-in MEWP supplied with an operator, the responsibility for the rescue plan remains with the user. The employer of the operator or their nominated representative should check with the MEWP user to ensure that an adequate rescue plan has been put in place.

MEWP suppliers should be able to provide technical advice to assist with the planning process.

Planning for rescue from a MEWP

Before carrying out rescue from height, as with all activities in the workplace, employers must ensure that a safe system of work is in place. An emergency plan is vital to establishing a safe system of work and will involve the following stages:

  1. Identification of the task to be undertaken;

  2. Identification of the hazards associated with the task;

  3. Assessment of the risks involved with the rescue operation;

  4. Identification of the required control measures;

  5. Identification of roles and responsibilities;

  6. Developing the method to be used including:

    1. Identification and provision of any equipment required;

    2. Identification, training and assessment of suitable competent persons to carry out the rescue;

    3. Ensuring the availability of appropriately trained and competent persons when required;

    4. Provision of necessary information;

    5. Establishing suitable methods of communication;

    6. Consideration of “basket to basket” or other means of rescue;

    7. Need for the provision of a “personnel emergency pack” in the MEWPplatform and the contents of that pack (see section 8.);

    8. Liaison with the local emergency services;

    9. Contact details for the operator of any nearby overhead power lines.

  7. Recording the planning in a method statement;

  8. Communication of the plan to all those involved;

  9. Reviewing the plan at intervals, incorporating any changed circumstances and undertaking periodic refresher training.

The control measures identified should include arrangements for training of persons and the inspection and maintenance of any rescue equipment. A list of general risk factors to be taken into account in the risk assessment in Bullet 3 above is given in Annex A.

A hierarchy of the measures that can be taken during the rescue of persons from a MEWP is given in Annex B. It should be emphasised that this is only an example and that a specific rescue plan should be developed for each individual MEWP, based on the specific machine characteristics, the task being undertaken, site specific factors and environmental factors.

Additional information and guidance is given in:
• IPAF Toolbox Talk, Understanding a MEWP Rescue Plan


(free download from )

Rescue personnel

Whenever a MEWP is in use, a competent and authorised person in the vicinity of the MEWP should be designated as the “nominated ground rescue person”. This person should be familiar


with the ground controls of the MEWP and have practiced lowering the platform. They should also have been fully briefed on the rescue plan and identified to the MEWP operator in the work platform as the nominated ground rescue person.

In the case of rescue being required, the MEWP operator should in the first instance alert their supervisor. If, however they are not contactable the operator should contact the nominated ground rescue person directly for assistance.

It is essential that all personnel involved in the rescue have the necessary competence to enable the rescue to be carried out safely.


Effective communication between the MEWP operator and their supervisor and/or nominated ground rescue person is essential if the rescue plan is to be carried out successfully. The means of communication chosen will depend on a number of factors including maximum working heightof the MEWP, background noise, environment and mobile ‘phone signal strength.

In areas with poor mobile ‘phone signal strength it may be necessary to use hand-held radios. Information on radio communications for lifting operations is given in CPA Technical Information Note TIN 017 (free download from

Means of rescue


If the MEWP cannot be lowered, either by using the auxiliary power source or ground controls, it may be necessary to rescue the platform occupants using another MEWP to carry out a “basket to basket” transfer. Guidance on this process is given in Annex D.

An alternative method that may be considered is the use of a mobile crane or tower crane with a suspended man-basket. Guidance on the lifting of persons using cranes is given in Annex E.

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