IPAF Welcomes New ISO Standard for MEWP Operator Controls


The International Powered Access Federation welcomes the introduction of a new international standard about operator controls for mobile elevating work platforms.

The new standard, ISO 21455:2020, was published earlier in April. It culminates a decade of work from IPAF, its members, and the U.K. Health and Safety Executive to standardize the actuation, displacement, location, and method of operation of MEWP control.

Work on the new standard started in 2010, when the U.K. HSE began looking into MEWP user entrapment and control design. The standard also builds on research first undertaken by IPAF into which, if any, methods of operation and orientation of MEWP controls might be standardized across different brands and models to further improve safety. The U.K. HSE research resulted in the publishing of reports RR960 and RR961 in 2013.

Following publication of the reports, the U.K. HSE and MEWP manufacturers began discussions through IPAF's Manufacturers’ Technical Committee and the Association of Equipment Manufacturers. Those talks resulted in the creation of the Manufacturers of Elevating Work Platforms Council, later known as the MEWP Industry Manufacturers Group. The U.K. Health and Safety Laboratory’s research into human factors and ergonomics also played an important role.

The unique collaboration led to a 2015 proposal to develop an international standard for MEWP control performance, location, marking, and method of operation, which has resulted in the release of the new ISO standard this month.

To help develop the standard, IPAF and the Elevating Work Platform Association took a simulated MEWP platform with a multi-position control panel to construction sites and industry events, where operators of varying experience used the controls. The resulting data helped guide the standards-development committee s ISO TC 214 Working Group 1 as it determined joystick controller orientation relative to the work platform floor.

Peter Douglas, CEO and MD of IPAF, said: “This unprecedented co-operation between global MEWP manufacturers, trade associations, and the UK HSE resulted in the new MEWP control standard. It shows how important IPAF’s committees are in driving forward standards globally and it is gratifying to see this project moving to fruition and improving the safety of MEWPs by standardizing the controls.”

Chris Wraith, who is now from IPAF member Access Safety Management Ltd. and was formerly IPAF’s Technical & Safety Executive, worked to introduce the new standards. Wraith added: “IPAF and its members were heavily involved throughout this 10-year journey and should be proud of their involvement in producing this landmark standard, which now sets a new international benchmark for MEWP control design.”

IPAF North American manager Tony Groat, who is a member of ISO TC 214, added, “I believe this standard provides new language that can impact control designs to improve the operator’s intuitive direction of motion based on the position of the control panel- tilted toward or away from the operator. I am optimistic that this standard will immediately influence MEWP manufacturers’ and countries’ design standards in their next revisions.