Falls are one of the most common types of aerial lift-related accidents. This makes fall protection one of the most important safety measures when working with aerial work platforms. While aerial lifts are most often used in construction sites, for tree care, or with other forms of maintenance tasks, they can also be used over water in a marine shipyard or boatyard setting. Working with aerial lifts over water consists of a set of potential hazards and dangers all its own, and requires workers to be very knowledgeable about how to work safely in this type of setting. Not only are there falling hazards, but drowning hazards as well.
In this article, we discuss the dangers of working on aerial lifts and bucket trucks over water, the rules and regulations for this type of work, and how workers can protect themselves and prevent accidents.
When Might Operators Be Using Aerial Lifts Over Water?
Aerial lifts are commonly used to perform various tasks from elevated positions in shipyards and are often used to replace conventional shipyard scaffolding. They are used to build, maintain, and repair large ships, lift and lower crates and loads, and more. They might also be used in construction, helping to erect buildings that live right on the shoreline. This can require them to perform certain work directly over the water.
Whether used in a shipyard, boatyard, or unique construction setting, aerial lifts can make an otherwise very impractical and unsafe situation much more efficient and safe, compared to traditional staging devices. However, aerial work platforms can still cause injuries and fatalities when not used correctly and when aerial lift fall protection is not in place.
What Are the Rules for Working Over Water with Equipment?
Fall protection involves the use of body harnesses, lanyards, and attachment points on the boom or bucket that protect a worker from falling and getting injured or killed. According to OSHA, aerial lift fall protection is a requirement for all types of work on aerial lifts, including the use of harnesses and lanyards. However, OSHA says that the only exception to this rule is when using aerial lifts over water. “Except over water, employees occupying the personnel platform must be provided and use a personal fall arrest system.” Workers are more at risk of drowning if they fall into the water or if the lift collapses into the water and they are tied to the boom or bucket. When working over water, operators are allowed to unhook their lanyard from the boom or basket.
If working in an aerial lift not directly over water but over a large floating object, punt, fender, or other type of object, workers should tie off because they will more than likely hit the structure if they fall.
Safety Tips for How to Avoid Accidents While Working Over Water
Operators need to be very careful when using aerial lifts over water. They must understand the right safety tips and aerial lift fall protection practices to protect their lives on the job:
- – Wear a body harness with a lanyard attached to the boom or bucket (except when working directly over water to avoid a drowning hazard)
- – Never move an aerial lift with workers in the elevated position
- – Maintain the equipment and ensure it is in safe working order
- – Make sure the controls are all marked properly
- – Never override safety devices that help prevent the boom or bucket from moving in an unsafe way
- – Be aware of the list, trim and lash down points when working on a lift on a barge
- – Use stops to prevent the lift from falling off open edges
- – Understand the swivel radius of a lift to ensure it won’t swing out and strike a nearby object
- – Set the brakes, use wheel chocks, check tire pressure, use outriggers, ensure stability and leveling of the lift, avoid high winds, and never operate under power lines to protect workers from falling, tip over and electrocution hazards
- – Ensure workers are trained and certified to operate aerial lifts
Additional tips include:
- – Wear a personal flotation device when using aerial lifts over water
- – Keep aerial lifts away from objects that can get caught on the lift
- – Never push, lift, or move objects using an aerial lift
- – Never exceed the load capacity or height limit of the lift
Get Training and Certification to Prevent Accidents with Aerial Lifts
Safety devices, harnesses, and other aerial lift fall protection equipment certainly go a long way in preventing workers from falling injuries and fatalities. However, all the tools in the world can’t help operators if they aren’t trained to use aerial lifts.
Operator training is the most important part of aerial lift safety and preventing accidents involved with aerial work platforms. Many accidents can be prevented when operators are trained and prepared to recognize and avoid hazards. Using aerial lifts over water is certainly no different.
If you’re looking for top quality, convenient, and affordable aerial lift training from an OSHA-compliant source, look no further than AerialliftCertification.com. Our online courses teach workers everything they need to know about using aerial lifts safely, including aerial lift fall protection. From any device with an internet connection and in only about one hour, workers can be trained and certified to operate aerial lifts and scissor lifts.