Road-Rail (Hi Rail) mobile elevated work platforms (MEWP) have been popular in Australia for many years with the traditional route to getting on-track being through separate installations of the rail equipment and the EWP, often with little or no communication or shared engineering between the rail equipment manufacturer and the EWP manufacturer.

Many of these installations are non-compliant with Australian Standards and are not registered under the Work Health and Safety Act as required by law.

What does that mean?

All elevated work platforms must comply with the requirements of AS1418.10 with boom-type MEWPs also required by law to be registered under the Work Health and Safety Act.

Depending on your state, registration of a boom-type MEWP is through either WorkCover or WorkSafe. In order to register the vehicle, you must demonstrate through an engineering report that the entire platform, including the supporting structure, is compliant with AS1418.10

What’s the problem?

AS1418.10 requires the entire structure to comply with the strength requirements and for it to support the basket without tipping under operating conditions. Whilst stability can be tested physically, for road-rail vehicles, there are several areas that are often overlooked and can cause the vehicle to be deemed non-compliant. Among these are:

“Flexitore” type suspension units are not an engineered product and should not be used to provide stability – Their deflection cannot be accurately predicted and there is often no engineering available to support their claimed rating.

The vehicle chassis and/or sub-frame may not be strong enough to withstand the twist that is applied during EWP use.

The road-rail equipment, including chassis mounts, wheels and axles may not be rated sufficiently to withstand the offset loading applied when the EWP is fully loaded and extended at 90 degrees to the track.

How do I know if my machine is compliant?

The supplier of the completed vehicle should be able to provide you with certification to demonstrate that it is fully compliant. It’s important to remember that compliance with CE, EN or ISO requirements does not equal Australian Standard (AS) compliance.

The certification should cover the entire machine including the road-rail equipment and clearly show that the vehicle has been assessed as a whole. Certification must reference Australian Standards and show that the machine has been tested accordingly.

What if I don’t have certification?

Without registration with WorkCover or WorkSafe, operation of a boom-type EWP is illegal.

If the vehicle is registered and certified only as a road-going vehicle, it may be possible to use the EWP on-rail if stabiliser legs are deployed so that the rail wheels are no longer part of the load-bearing structure. If doing this, operators must be aware that the EWP has to be fully stowed before the legs are retracted.

What Can I Do?

If you don’t have WorkCover or WorkSafe registration for your boom-type MEWP you should stop using it and seek further advice from a specialist engineer. You may be able to achieve registration easily to allow the use of the MEWP with stabiliser legs deployed and the EWP manufacturer should be able to assist with that process.

If you need to use the EWP on-rail without stabiliser legs, you should engage a specialist engineer who will conduct an analysis on the whole vehicle including the road-rail equipment.