There are few tools more essential to the construction industry than fall protection equipment. Like many key pieces of construction equipment, aerial lifts are incredibly useful – and incredibly dangerous. By taking the necessary precautions and wearing the right gear, fall protection safety can become second nature on your job site.
Why Is Fall Protection Equipment Important?
If you’ve ever worked with aerial lifts, it’s easy to see why fall protection is important. Employees work at great heights to build, maintain, and repair everything from buildings to ships. Risk is inherent in these sorts of jobs, but with the right equipment, workers can stay safe.
Another reason why aerial workers require fall protection equipment? it’s the law. OSHA has fall protection requirements in place for workers in many different types of jobs, including:
– Tree cutting
– Surveillance (police, security, etc.)
– Window cleaning
– Electrical work
– Fixing elevated highway signs
– Bridge cleaning and repairs
If your employees are working on an aerial lift, they must be tied off, regardless of their job role or industry. The lone exception applies to scissor lift operators.
Types of Fall Protection Equipment
Fall protection equipment comes in a wide range of options. Depending on your specific duties on the construction job site, you may be tasked with using any number of fall protection safety gear. Here are a few of the most common types:
Personal Restraints for Boom Lifts
OSHA requires workers to use a personal fall restraint system when they work on a boom lift. However, OSHA does not require workers to use a fall restraint system when they leverage a scissor lift. Boom lift workers are at a high risk of getting ejected while up in the air. Traveling across uneven surfaces further increases this risk. To protect these workers, OSHA requires them to use both fall arrest and restraint systems.
Fall Arrest and Restraint Systems
Fall arrest systems protect workers during a fall. They limit the amount of force put on falling workers and stop them before hitting the ground. Comparatively, fall restraint systems prevent falls from occurring in the first place. A fall restraint system serves as a leash that limits how far workers can move in any direction on a lift. The “leash” allows operators to work anywhere within the basket but does not reach far enough so they can climb up or out of it.
Scissor Lift Guardrails
Scissor lift fall protection is essential even if there is little to no risk of getting ejected from the platform. A scissor lift’s guard rails provide a barrier to protect workers from falling. Therefore, OSHA does not mandate wearing fall protection for scissor lifts.
Plus, unlike boom lift fall protection requirements, scissor lifts don’t reach as high as other types of AWPs. They do require the guardrail system to provide “adequate” protection. This means no missing rails or any type of damage that could allow workers to fall. Some scissor lifts have anchor points workers can use for fall protection if they want. These anchor points are not required, but they must be ANSI-rated if provided.
Anchor points and guardrails aren’t the only fall protection equipment used in scissor lifts. Safety sensors can do wonders to alert workers to potential hazards. For instance, sensors can detect the weight of a load on a lift. When the lift begins approaching its maximum load capacity, sensors alert workers and minimize the risk of a tip-over accident.
Other Fall Protection Wearables
Construction technology is constantly evolving. The latest in construction safety wearables make it easier than ever to keep tabs on safety. Sensor clips, for instance, can be worn on the vest, alerting supervisors should a fall occur. Workers even have the option to report an injury by pushing a button on the device. If an evacuation is necessary, alerts can be sent out to all workers using the clips.
Smart boots work in a similar way. RFID tags work to improve workflow information, but they can also alert supervisors to worker slips, trips, and falls. Fall protection safety has never been easier to implement.
Employers Must Provide Boom Lift Fall Protection Systems
According to OSHA, employers must provide approved fall protection equipment, including aerial lift fall protection accessories. If employers don’t provide this important equipment, they may receive costly fines. Employers can comply with OSHA’s fall protection mandates by ensuring workers use a:
– Body belt with a tether anchored to the boom or basket (fall restraint)
– Body harness with a tether (fall restraint)
– Body harness with a lanyard (fall arrest)
Employers are in compliance with OSHA requirements as long as they use at least one of these techniques. Belts, harnesses, and lanyards can be obtained by buying aerial lift fall protection kits. These can be easily bought online or at big-box home improvement centers.
Keep in mind that providing fall protection equipment is only the first step to protect aerial lift workers against falls and other on-the-job dangers. Workers need aerial lift safety training to learn how to use fall protection equipment properly. They also need fall protection certification, so that their employer is OSHA-compliant. Most importantly, employers need to ensure that workers wear fall restraints any time they’re on a lift.
Sign Up for Aerial Lift Safety Training from AerialLiftCertification.com Today
At AerialLiftCertification.com, we make aerial lift safety training easily accessible to employers and their workers. We know first hand the importance that fall protection equipment plays on the average job site. We want your workers to get aerial lift safety training, so they can complete everyday tasks safely. As such, we provide comprehensive training to help workers quickly get up to speed. To learn more or to sign up for our training program, please contact us online or call us today at (888) 278–8896.