Aerial Platform Council to Develop Fall Protection Guidelines

The use of personal fall protection, harnesses, and lanyards on aerial work platforms was the focus of the Aerial Platform Council's meeting at the annual Scaffold Industry Association convention, held in Baltimore, Md., in July.

Dave Merrifield of Merrifield Safety Consulting, Jeff Stachowiak of Sunbelt Rentals, and Chuck Hutchinson of Bil-Jax, Inc. chaired the Aerial Platform Council and lead the discussions. Forty seven representatives from aerial lift manufacturers including JLG, Genie, Skyjack, Bil-Jax, and Reachmaster; fall protection companies including Tractel Fallstop, MSA Fall Protection, Web Devices, Elk River, and French Creek; United Rentals, Sunbelt Rentals, H&E Equipment, Midwest Aerials, and Trico Equipment; and training company AWPT, Inc. were in attendance.

Topics included the right and wrong ways to use personal fall protection on aerial lifts and challenges of using fall protection in the field. The council agreed that communication and training were essential to getting the word out on the safe and proper use of personal fall protection equipment. Although the council will meet again this winter, they said they would continue discussions on fall protection challenges via email and conference calls.

In the short term, the council has decided to create a set of Fall Protection Guidelines or Code of Safe Practices that users of aerial equipment can refer to when questions arise about the safe use of personal fall protection equipment on aerial lifts. Long-term goals for the aerial lift manufacturers, fall protection companies, and rental companies that make up the Aerial Platform Council include working towards a set of products that operators will use (correctly) and will protect them from being hurt in case of a fall or ejection from an aerial lift.