Working Safely with MEWPs in Cold Weather

Mobile Elevated Work Platforms still remain one of the safest methods of working at height however with the icy mornings fast approaching, it is especially important to take the necessary precautions to ensure everything runs smoothly on site. Whilst your operators might be IPAF trained, they may never have operated Powered Access equipment in icy weather before.

When attempting to operate AWPs in cold environments is is essential to take the correct precautions and know the limits of your machine.

Diesel Engines
If you are using diesel machinery then it is important to remember to engage the glow plug pre-heat system for 3-5 seconds before attempting to start the machine and then leave it running for approx. 10 minutes before commencing work to allow the engine to fully warm up and reduce the chances of a breakdown occurring.

On the other hand, if you are using indoor electric machines in temperatures between -20°C and -40°C then you must be aware of some of the problems you may face.

The standard batteries fitted in our machines are perfect for all indoor work however when sub-zero temperatures are introduced, batteries with low acid levels will freeze and the capacity reduces quickly which can leave you with an unreliable machine.
Plan for this by using gel based batteries if you are working in temperatures below -20°C.

Maximise your time
The best way to ensure you are being as productive as possible when working in cold environments is to keep the machine in normal temperatures while not in use for 3 times as long as you use it in sub-zero temperatures. This ensures the machine is not put under any extra stress which could in turn lead to faulty hydraulic lifts or controls.

Risk Assessment

Remember to check that your current site risk assessment reflects the risks that could occur due to the cold weather.

Accidents such as slips and falls

Remember to take into account that MEWP decks and handrails may become slippy due to bad weather the night before and could pose a hazard.
Not only this, but snow can hide other hazards in the area, so be sure to clear the area you will be working in before operating the MEWP.

Prepare for the worst
When operating a MEWP, always prepare for the worst scenario, wrap up warm and carry a warm drink with you in case of an emergency.


For more info and advice when operating MEWPs in cold weather conditions, please send us an email to



Written by:
Aerial Platforms
6th February 2018

If you’re an existing customer of APL Aerial Platforms Ltd, then please note our bank details have changed and you should have received an email confirming this.

If you are still unsure, please do not hesitate to call our Accounts Department on 01942 553 323 / 0800 085 3709.

Thanks, APL!