Powered Elevating Work Platforms include boom lifts and scissor lifts from which work can be done at height. PEWPs have a high centre of balance when a worker is on the platform and tipping accidents have resulted in deaths. The risk of tipping increases when moving over uneven ground.
In the event of a tip, the only possibly safe place for a worker is inside the guardrails of the work platform. In a tip, if a worker is ejected they may be crushed by the machine.
Section 148(1)(e) of the Construction regulation requires that workers in a boom lift must always use fall protection
that prevents them from ejection. The fall protection must be attached to an adequate anchorage point on the platform.
Workers on scissor lifts must also use fall protection preventing ejection
whenever the PEWP is in motion. When not in motion the guardrails of the scissor lift provides adequate protection.
The purpose of these requirements is to keep workers inside the guardrails of the platform – not ejected – if the machine tips.
The Ministry of Labour does not allow shock-absorbing or retractable lanyards as a method to prevent ejection.
Shock-absorbing lanyards may, depending on height, prevent a worker from hitting the ground if the worker falls over the guardrail. But its length will not prevent ejection in event of a tip. And while some self-retracting lanyards (SRL) are designed to limit free-fall distance to a few inches, these systems require an overhead anchor point. When attached to a lower anchor point, such as the one provided with a PEWP, the free-fall distance may be as much as two feet, which may allow the worker to be ejected in event of a tip.
The Ministry of Labour accepts a standard lanyard, without a shock absorber, may restrict the fall distance enough to prevent ejection and comply with section 148(1)(e).
Working at Heights vs. PEWP training
The issue of fall protection in a PEWP often arises in our Working at Heights
training. However, the issue is only lightly addressed in the Working at Heights
session plan. If the issue of fall protection in a PEWP arises in a Working at Heights
class, an instructor should try to limit discussions on the issue by assuring participants the issue it is fully addressed in our Powered Elevating Work Platforms course
– which they are required to complete before working from a PEWP.
Let’s be clear, there is no blanket prohibition against shocking-absorbing lanyards. Workers commonly use shock-absorbing lanyards in their fall protection arrangement, keeping in mind it must be adequate for the fall clearance. For example, the WHSC’s Working at Heights
course discusses use of a shock-absorbing lanyard when working at 40 feet. In that situation the lanyard fully deploys to 18½ feet, leaving 21½ feet of fall clearance. This arrangement would be acceptable in many situations, though not for protection from PEWP ejection.
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