How MEWPs are Growing in Popularity

Size, environmental sensitivities and safety factors are driving the appeal to use MEWPs.

By Howard Riell, contributing writer  
OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: Scissor Lifts Plays a Major Role in Maintenance IssuesPt. 2: This Page

Size, environmental sensitivities and safety factors are three reasons low-level access lifts are appealing for managers. 

Size. Because these lifts are lightweight and compact, technicians can push them into place and between work areas. They require minimal storage space, and they are designed for use in a variety of applications.  

 “There is a greater need for products that have a small footprint, are lighter weight for use on sensitive flooring and can fit into and be moved between floors in elevators for ongoing facility maintenance, from airports and data centers to high-rise buildings — and just about anything in between,” says Misty Mason, product manager for low level access and verticals for JLG Industries Inc. 

Because of their size and weight, low-level lifts are also commonly used for fit-out and finish work on construction sites for duties such as painting, installing fire alarm and sprinkler systems, installing or replacing lighting and installing ceiling tiles. Other common applications for low-level access lifts include refitting facility displays, updating seasonal décor and maintaining other equipment

Low-level lifts also offer portability benefits. They can be lowered and moved from one location to another to perform multiple tasks throughout a facility in less time. 

Environmental sensitivities. Low-level MEWPs are also gaining favor among companies focused on sustainability. Battery-powered lifts run more quietly and eliminate or reduce emissions, making them suitable for use in clean rooms, data centers, hospitals, schools, libraries and office buildings where noise restrictions exist. 

Safety consciousness. The demand for low-level lifts grows as companies place more focus on replacing ladders and scaffolding. Ladder falls and overuse injuries lead to many problems. In addition to employee injuries, falls can lead to lost work time, reduced productivity and costly workers’ compensation claims.  

Managers seeking alternative solutions find that low-level access lifts can be more ergonomically efficient to operate and more productive to get work done, and they can be used to improve safety in place of ladders and scaffolding.  

“That’s because low-level lifts are designed and purpose-built to reduce strain on the body and lessen the risk of musculoskeletal injuries caused by repetitive movements, such as climbing up and down a ladder,” Mason says. “One of the biggest issues facility managers have when selecting a MEWP is rightsizing the equipment for the work to be done. Having too much or too little machine can present challenges.” 

For example, having too much machine for the job “may not seem like a big deal,” Mason says. But using an oversized lift might restrict access unnecessarily. When doing indoor work — particularly in narrow hallways or other tight spaces — a small, low-level access lift or lightweight electric scissor lift can be more effective than a larger machine. 

Smaller lifts are designed to fit through standard doorways, operate quietly and have minimal impact on the surrounding environment. On the other hand, if the machine needs to work outdoors or on uneven terrain, a larger, more powerful machine like a boom lift or rough terrain scissor lift might be a better choice. 

Choosing a larger machine than is needed also can increase operational costs due to the price of buying or renting a larger unit, transportation and the fuel and other costs that go along with maintaining it.  

“On the flip side, not having enough machine may extend the project’s timeline because it takes longer to accomplish the tasks that need to get done,” Mason says. “Before selecting a machine, consider how many workers and what kinds of tools and materials are needed at height. An appropriately sized machine will allow an operator to carry everything he/she needs in fewer trips.” 

Howard Riell is a freelance writer from Henderson, Nevada. 

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  posted on 2/14/2023   Article Use Policy

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