Safety Watch: Stay in control

The accident: A 51-year-old man was transferring a boom lift from one flatbed truck to another. Ignoring a suggestion that he back the two flatbed trucks end to end and drive the lift across from one truck bed to the other, the man decided to drive the lift down a ramp off the truck and then up another ramp onto the second truck. The man also ignored the notice to wear fall protection equipment, which was posted on the control panel dash. As he drove the lift over the lip of the ramp, the machine tipped, the boom swung up and the man was catapulted into the air. After being airlifted to the nearest hospital, the man spent two weeks in intensive care.

The bottom line: OSHA regulations require occupants of a boom lift to wear personal fall protection equipment while in the platform. In addition, Aerial Work Platform Training, Rouzerville, Pennsylvania, strongly advises the use of a full body harness with an adjustable lanyard. The full body harness should be attached via a lanyard to a lanyard anchorage point. The lanyard should be adjusted to be as short as possible, and if recommended by the aerial work platform manufacturer, feature a shock-absorbing section.

Except when the manufacturer or the aerial work platform recommends or requires the use of personal fall protection, it is normally not necessary for personnel working from scissor lifts and vertical lifts.

But whatever the type of aerial lift machine used, the requirement for a personal fall protection system also should be the result of a job-specific risk analysis done before work starts. This analysis needs to consider the instructions found in the manufacturer’s operator’s manual.

In addition, all personnel must be trained in each type of aerial work platform they operate. This includes familiarization with the machine’s weight, height, width and length. Such familiarization should include:

· The location of the operator’s manual, stored in a weather-resistant storage compartment.
· The purpose and function of all controls.
· Knowledge of the safety devices and operating characteristics of the machine being operated.