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Work at height and PFPE? What is required?

When operating self-propelled and trailer-mounted booms, some situations require personal fall protection equipment (PFPE) to reduce the probability of operator ejection or catapult from the platform. But what about scissor lifts?

It’s been a topic of discussion for decades, but little has changed over the years: there isn’t a standard approach or consistent answer about wearing PFPE on a scissor lift.

The use of PFPE on scissors depends mostly on factors like employer and/or local government regulations. And that can cause confusion. For instance, someone operating one brand of scissor lift might read the operator’s manual to find that the OEM says to use PFPE in relation to jobsite and governmental rules, while another OEM might say PFPE is required no matter what.

According to the ANSI A92.22-2021 and CSA B354.7-17 standards, the guardrail system of the MEWP is the primary fall protection for occupants. When required to use personal fall protection, either fall restraint or fall arrest, operators and occupants shall comply with the instructions provided by the manufacturer regarding anchorage(s).

Standards for Type 1, Group A (1A) manually propelled elevating work platforms, and Type 3, Group A (3A) self-propelled elevating work platforms — which includes scissor lifts and single personnel lifts — do not require the use of personal fall protective equipment (PFPE) in addition to guardrails.

When accidents happen

Since there isn’t crystal clear guidance on the topic, it’s worth taking a look at why that’s the case. There have been situations where an operator inadvertently got their lanyard wrapped around the platform control joystick and activated the elevate function, crushing the operator. Another, similar, example included an operator doing the same thing but almost driving off a loading dock. Additionally,  when more than one operator is working from the platform and they are wearing 6-foot, shock-absorbing lanyards, it can create a tripping hazard that could lead to severe consequences.

So, what can be done?

At the most basic level, employers must ensure that their operators have been properly trained by a qualified instructor using the most up-to-date content and methods.

Fall Protection Training Courses are designed for anyone who may be exposed to fall hazards while working. There are also Fall Protection Awareness Training Courses specific for those who work on construction sites.

Fall protection training can give new – and experienced – students the necessary skills and knowledge to recognize fall hazards and how to avoid them.

There are also MEWP Training Courses that take a deeper dive into what’s required for operating – safely – 3a and 3b MEWP machines. 

No person should be allowed to operate a MEWP unless they have proof of proper work-at-height training and are familiar with the specific model of MEWP they are operating.

Stay up-to-date with MEWP training requirements and all other health and safety courses by visiting Easybook Training to browse and book your training today.

My opinion is that if personal fall protection is required on a scissor lift, the appropriate PFPE would be a full body harness and a six-foot self-retracting lifeline/lanyard that is approved for use on a MEWP. The SRL would minimize the risk of getting caught on the joystick as well as minimize any potential tripping hazards. It allows the operator to have full mobility in the platform which would increase productivity. It would not, however, eliminate the ability of the operator to climb on the platform guardrails. That is why having trained, qualified, and engaged supervision is absolutely critical to safety.

  1. Eighth Edition Second Printing GS Part No. 1296776GT
  2. 170469AGA April 2019
  3. Part # 94119 October 2020
  4. March 15, 2021 – Rev B 31215087
  5. When calculating the total fall distance take into consideration the following:
  • Lanyard free fall distance
  • Maximum allowable deceleration distance
  • Maximum lock‐up length for the self-retracting lifeline/lanyard
  • The height of the operator
  • Any stretch in the lifeline or lanyard outside of the deceleration distance
  • Any stretch in the harness
  • Any movement of the platform due to dynamic loading
  • Any obstructions under the platform