Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Institute featured on Lift and Access

The Institute was highlight on Lift and Access.  Check out the article here

Low PPE compliance?

Aerial lift safety does not just involve the operator and the equipment.  PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) is also an important aspect of a safe work environment.  As a reminder, it is the employer’s responsibility to provide PPE to all employees free of charge.  But it is the employee’s responsibility to actually use the equipment.

According to a recent survey, 89% of employers (across many fields) had seen their employees not using PPE when they should have been.  And when asked why their workers were not using correct PPE, the responders said that the workers thought the PPE was not required.  In other words, the workers were not properly trained.

What PPE should aerial lift operators be using when using equipment?

  • Hard Hat
  • Harness (in a boom type lift). For full guidance on Harness use, please refer to the AWPT H1 Statement
  • Safety Goggles (type depends on Risk Assessment)
  • Gloves (type depends on Risk Assessment)

Workers should also be wearing appropriate boots, whether steel-toed or not.  Clothing appropriate for the weather and work should always be worn.  Again, a risk assessment by the employer should inform these decisions.

Proper training by a qualified instructor, such as the AWPT operator program delivered by the Institute for Aerial Lift Safety will ensure that operators are clear on the necessity for correct PPE use at all times.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Response to Notre Dame Scissor Lift Accident Report

The following is written by Mark Hinkel of Hinkel Equipment Rentals

After studying the Notre Dame "Investigation Report, October 27, 2010, Aerial Lift Accident", one is struck by the total lack of a "Safety Culture" exhibited by the various departments and entities involved in the tragedy of Declan Sullivan's death.  I realize that the readers of the Notre Dame report are getting the information secondhand, but that information is far from complimentary to the institution.

The analysis of an accident often points to a 'chain' of events that are involved in the accident, any one of which, if addressed, might have broken the chain and prevented the occurrence of the accident.  It looks like there was a lot of ignorance of the possible hazards involved in scissor lift operation.

How can the lack of training not be a contributor to the accident?  What about the inattention to the requirements that the lift be inspected?  Who originated the '35 MPH' wind speed limit for the use of the scissor lifts?  If a construction employer had depended on a specification without a basis, and had an accident, then that employer would be at fault.

The lift industry has recognized for years that we have a responsibility to do our part in supplying safe, efficient equipment to users, and to ensure that those users know how to operate the equipment in a proper manner so that the job is completed safely... and then go home.  Not everyone is taking their responsibilities seriously. 

We in the access industry are working hard to implement the standards like ANSI, ISO and OSHA, that will protect users, but if the regulations are ignored by those in the chain of responsibility, then the path to a disaster like this is much more likely.  Proper training will never do anybody any harm, and if there are things that I learned during my own access training:  1). There's a lot that we don't know, and 2).  If that formal training causes any of us to stop and look something over, even for a few moments, then that's the idea of saving lives...

A 'Safety Culture' starts at the top, with leaders that are willing to accept responsibility for the conduct and safety of their charges.  Start that way, and then the favorable behaviors that save lives will become second nature to all of the involved parties.  Denying the obvious, that better training could have enabled Mr. Sullivan to better recognize the wind hazard he was exposed to, is doing an injustice to all of the properly trained operators who work safely every day.  This begs the question, "If better training doesn't help to avoid accidents, then why do it?".  Training doesn't have a cost, it has a value...