Getting workers safely to and from elevated work areas has been a problem since the very first human structures were built. And, over the years, as our urban centers have become more densely packed and vertical in composition, this has included the need to reach elevated work areas in highly constricted and confined areas as well. Luckily for contractors faced with such difficulties, new and smaller elevating work platforms are allowing high-reach access to areas with minimum fuss and an emphasis on safety.
Dubbed low level access or micro MEWPS (MEWPS standing for mobile elevating work platforms), these machines are a perfect fit for any number of construction or maintenance applications where a simple ladder just won’t do and a full-size work platform is too big to gain access to the area in question. It is common to see conventional MEWPs on commercial projects (a scissor or boom lift), reaching high into atriums or warehouses, says Chad Baumgartner, president of Low Level Access. However, he notes, there is a growing need for smaller units pushed by concerns over work-related falls from ladders, led by trade groups and contractors looking for safer and more efficient means of access to work at height — even low heights.
“The smaller footprint and light weight lifts not only easily fit in elevators, but they can be used in tight spaces where the larger lifts cannot go,” Baumgartner explains. “These smaller lifts are generally one man, and range from push-around, non-powered access to small drivable versions. Some manufacturers have even started to produce accessories that are task specific to selected trades, turning what might have been a two-man task into something that can be performed by one man with the right piece of equipment.”
Additionally, Baumgartner says, the COVID-19 pandemic has given a boost to micro MEWP use since their small, one-worker configurations are perfectly suited for a tradesman or worker who needs to social distance or isn’t allowed to share equipment on sites.
Another trend driving the growth of these specialized machines into new applications today is their sheer practicality, says Justin Kissinger, marketing manager for HyBrid-Lifts. “Budgets are limited, spaces are tight and operational requirements are becoming more defined,” he notes. “This leads contractors to seek out practical solutions that will meet their needs now and in the future. Contractors are finding these solutions in [low level access] MEWPs, which increase productivity, are more maneuverable and provide unmatched safety when compared to alternatives
Jennifer Stiansen, director of marketing at JLG, says she sees three key trends accelerating demand for and adoption of low-level access lifts. “The first is that more and more companies are looking to replace ladders and scaffolding with products that off…