Follow Special Precautions When Working at Height

April 29, 2019
The number one priority on any aerial jobsite should be to promote a safe workplace for both the operators and the equipment.

The number one priority on any aerial jobsite should be to promote a safe workplace for both the operators and the equipment. To do this, it is important for everyone onsite to follow safety rules and regulations set forth by industry agencies such as ANSI and OSHA, as well as outlined in the equipment manufacturers’ guidelines.

Following manufacturers’ recommendations of best practices for safe use, it is important for mobile elevating work platform (MEWP) operators to incorporate these special precautions when working at height: Using fall protection, following guidance on exiting the boom at height and adding a fall arrest system for protection and increased flexibility when working at height.

Fall Protection

Fall protection, such as wearing a harness and an appropriate lanyard, is crucial for operator safety when working on MEWPs. To prevent incidents and mishaps from happening on an aerial jobsite, it is important that everyone who comes in contact with a MEWP understands and adheres to all fall protection requirements.

Different types of MEWPs have specific requirements for fall protection, here are important details to know:

Fall Protection Requirements on Manually Propelled and Self-propelled Vertical Lifts:

Standards for Manually Propelled Elevating Work Platforms and

Self-Propelled Elevating Work Platforms (Scissor lifts and Runabouts) (ANSI A92.22-2018 and CSA B354.7:17) do not require the use of personal fall protection equipment (PFPE) in addition to the platform guardrails.

Fall Protection Requirements on Booms:

Use of approved PFPE, in addition to a guardrail for operator fall protection, is required in the U.S. and Canada for boom-supported (3B) MEWPs. All occupants in boomsupported MEWPs must wear personal fall protection, with an appropriate lanyard attached to the designated anchorage, whenever they are in the platform.

This requirement is also mandated by the ANSI A92.22-2018 and CSA B354.7:17 Standards as well as ANSI A92.2-2015 and CSA C225 Standards for Vehicle-mounted Elevating and Rotating Platforms (such as Trailer-mounted Booms). These standards are enforced by OSHA in the U.S.A. and OHS and other Provincial Authorities in Canada.

If a user (typically the employer), or local jobsite or government regulations, requires an operator to use PFPE, many manufacturers, including Genie, provide approved lanyard attachment points in the MEWP.

Personal Fall Protection Requirements on BoomSupported Mobile Elevating Work Platforms (3B):

The following is a general summary of fall protection requirements for boom-supported MEWPs:

  • An employer is responsible for providing approved fall protection for all employees/operators.
  • A personal fall arrest system used on a boom type aerial lift cannot allow the operator to fall more than 6 ft (1.8 m), exceed 1,800 lb (816 kg) arresting force or allow the operator to come into contact with any lower surface.

Exiting a Boom Platform at Height

Articulated and telescopic booms are designed to allow operators to work at varying heights while remaining inside the platform. According to the Genie Operator’s Manual for booms, the operator should never enter or exit the platform unless the machine is in the stowed position and the platform is at ground level.

With that said, there are certain applications where it becomes necessary for the operator to exit an elevated boom platform in order to complete a task. OSHA and ANSI require an operator to be authorized in writing by the manufacturer before exiting a boom platform at height, so as a MEWP manufacturer committed to safety, we at Genie have developed an authorization letter that covers the process operators must follow for just such a need.

The Basics

Before performing any operation that requires the operator to exit an elevated boom platform, make sure he/she is preauthorized from the equipment manufacturer to do so. With Genie equipment, this comes in the form of the Exiting Elevated Boom Platform letter.

This letter outlines owner, employer, user and operator responsibilities for exiting at height as well as detailing requirements for 100 percent tie-off and personal fall protection requirements. A copy of the authorization letter must be kept in the weather resistant storage compartment located on the equipment at all times.

First and foremost, when an operator is on a project that requires exiting a platform at height, as with any boom application, he/she must be trained and qualified on how to safely operate the equipment and be familiar with that specific model. In addition to complying with all local, state, provincial or federal standards, the worker must operate the boom in accordance with the restrictions outlined in the authorization letter.

An approved full body harness and appropriate lanyard must be worn at all times while working inside or exiting the platform. If a self-retracting lifeline/lanyard is used, it cannot allow more than 6 ft (1.8 m) of freefall. Also, workers MUST enter or exit the platform only through the sliding mid-rail entry or gate provided and should never climb over the platform guardrails.

Special Requirements

When positioning the machine for entry/exit, the platform should be situated within 12 inches (304.8 mm) of the surface, and workers should not enter/exit the elevated platform in winds exceeding 20 mph (32.2 km/h). The operator must ensure 100 percent tie-off when entering/exiting the platform.

To ensure 100 percent tie-off, the operator’s primary lanyard must remain attached to the platform lanyard attachment point before exiting and attaching his/her secondary lanyard to the approved attachment point on the adjacent structure. Only then may the operator detach his/her primary lanyard from the platform. When returning to the platform, the operator must attach the primary lanyard to the platform anchor point before detaching the secondary lanyard from the adjacent structure.

The Genie guidance letter also allows the boom to be used as a fall restraint device. This enables operators to exit the platform to perform work on structures, as long as the pitch is no greater than 4:12 (18°), while using the boom platform as a tie-off anchor. For this application, the platform must be positioned a minimum of 4 ft (1.2 m) from the leading edge of the structure. Also, a person trained in the operation of the Genie boom must remain on the ground near the machine base controls to prevent unauthorized use while the worker is outside of the platform.

Fall Arrest Systems

While most of work at height can be accomplished from a MEWP’s platform, there are times when a worker may need to perform tasks on structures adjacent to the platform. Those times call for a fall arrest system, such as the Genie Fall Arrest Bar — a PFPE solution that allows operators to use their Genie boom as a reliable external anchor point. 

Extended Productivity

While booms are designed to lift people to a position where they can carry out work from the platform and then return to the starting level, there are situations that may require workers to exit the platform at height to do a job. Since Genie booms can be used as part of a fall arrest system, workers can attach their PFPE lanyard to an engineered anchor point within the platform. However, due to the limited length of the lanyard, workers are restricted in their working area, which can limit productivity. 

The Genie Fall Arrest Bar extends the normal working area because it consists of a smooth, sliding horizontal track design that allows the operator to tie off and move freely outside the platform using a single 6 foot (1.8 m) shock-absorbing lanyard.

Easy to Attach

The team at Genie designed the Fall Arrest Bar to quickly and easily attach to the platform. The yellow, identifiable bar, can be added or removed from a work platform in around 15 minutes and is approved for use on ANSI- and CSA-compliant Genie booms, including 40-foot and higher telescopic booms (except the Genie S-125 model), as well as 45-foot or higher articulating booms. 

Safety Tested

The Genie Fall Arrest Bar complies with ANSI A92.20-2018 and CSA B354.6:17 design standards for self-propelled booms. And, it is the first device of its kind to receive a PFPE certification from notified body SATRA (Notified Body for Personal Protective Equipment EU Regulations 2016/425) after conducting stringent testing.

In addition, Genie lifts are considered a reliable external anchorage point, having passed dynamic fall arrest anchorage testing in line with ISO 16388 (internal type approval test withstanding the force of a free-falling 300-pound/136 kg test mass). 

Stay Mindful

The operator platform on MEWPs is the best place to be while working at height. Before stepping out of the platform, workers should assess the risks involved with a task and only leave the platform if it’s deemed the safest and most effective way of accessing a location. For applications like working on the wing of a plane, servicing a ride at an amusement park or inspecting a roof, the Genie Fall Arrest Bar can be an ideal accessory for productive working. 

The bottom line for when the need arises to exit a boom platform at height, do so by following all the safety protocols. Always maintain 100-percent tie-off and only enter/exit the platform through the mid-rail entry or gate, never by climbing over the rail. And please, get the preauthorization letter from the original equipment manufacturer, follow the guidance, and keep it on the equipment at all times.

By focusing on promoting a safe workplace for both the operators and the equipment, it is important for everyone onsite to follow safety rules and regulations set forth by industry standards (ANSI, CSA, EU), as well as outlined in the equipment manufacturers’ guidelines. To prevent incidents and mishaps from happening on an aerial jobsite, it is important that everyone who comes in contact with MEWPs are knowledgeable regarding these standards.

About the Author

Scott Owygen

Scott Owyen is Genie senior training manager, Terex AWP