Protecting workers in an aerial lift

As mentioned in our recent webinar on fall protection for aerial lifts, the International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) shows a dramatic video of what can happen to a worker when not properly protected in an aerial lift.  The video, “IPAF CONEXPO 2008: Only dummies don’t wear harnesses on booms,” can be found here.

This video conveys a very powerful message about the importance of proper anchorage and fall protection measures in an aerial lift.  We need to view harnesses and lanyards in aerial lifts more like we view seat belts.  We don’t drive recklessly because we have a seat belt on. We shouldn’t do risky behaviors in an aerial lift assuming the equipment will automatically protect us.  Along the same lines, we should only view a harness and lanyard as protection in the case of an incident.


  1. Bob Heater says:

    After participating in the aerial lift webinar, there are two circumstances from my personal experience that I’d like to share. Unfortunately, each case ended with a fatality, so this reinforces the need for formal training. In the first situation, a city electrical utility boom truck had tied-off to a metal pole that was damaged. The plan was to attach a rope to it, remove the bolts that attached it to its base, and then lower it to the ground. When the last bolt was removed, the pole sprung from its base due to the excessive tension on the rope. The occupant was catapulted out of the basket. I’ll never forget being told that the victim was one of those workers who always told others to always wear their harness and lanyard….

    The other situation happened when a maintenance man was steering a fully extended scissors lift outdoors on an asphalt pathway. His intent was to change a bulb in a light fixture. In his case, he was wearing a harness and lanyard per company policy. However, he failed to notice that one of the wheels was rolling off the edge of the pathway. This resulted in the equipment toppling to the frozen ground. His impact with the ground caused multiple internal injuries. When the incident was reported to a room full of supervisors, the safety coordinator was asked if the scissors lift operator had been trained to safely operate the lift. The maintenance manager spoke up and said, “No, but he had operated it safely for the last 9 years.” That was the wrong answer then and was also the wrong answer as far as the OSHA compliance officer was concerned.

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