THE USE of man baskets or work platforms mounted on telehandlers or forklifts – used on many farms to access high level jobs such as roof repairs and tree lopping – may be banned unless they have an integrated set of controls to operate the vehicle that carries them.
The proposed ban is included in a new set of safety regulations from Brussels, and it could force some farmers to abandon the work basket and use a ladder instead, despite the fact that ladders cause many more serious accidents than man baskets.
Standard man baskets provide a convenient, relatively low cost platform for high level work, but the total cost of switching to a basket with separate controls is likely to be beyond the budget of most farms, said Tony Hutchinson, secretary of the Rural Design and Building Association (RDBA).
“Work baskets with integrated controls are much more expensive anyway,” he said.
“But the biggest problem is that they can only be used on very recent telehandlers and forklifts.
“If the proposal is approved it would mean a farmer who has an older machine could be forced to spend about £50,000 to buy an approved work basket and a new telehandler. I think many will prefer to use a ladder instead.”
RDBA membership includes companies involved in the construction and repair of farm and other rural buildings, and many of the members routinely use work baskets – most without controls – and they are concerned about the proposed rules.
“Ordinary work baskets have a very good safety record when they are correctly used, and they are certainly much safer than working on a ladder,” said Mr Hutchinson.
“The RDBA is campaigning for the continued use of work baskets without separate controls and we would welcome support from farmers who will be affected if the new regulations are approved.”