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Safety First and Last: Don’t be left hanging

When it comes to operating a mobile elevated work platform there are common questions that get asked and common misconceptions about the type of lanyard that needs to be used and when to use it. Something that seems to deserve a simple answer is influenced by several different factors.


July 11, 2019
By Jeff Thorne

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There’s a lot of confusion about a number of issues. Workers don’t know if they can use a lanyard with an energy-absorber, or a self-retracting lanyard, and if so what type to use. People are unclear about when to be tied-off in a self-propelled MEWP. What if it’s not moving? These are all very good questions with very different answers, so let’s break it all down.

Skyjack states that “the guardrail system of the aerial platform provides fall protection. If occupants of the platform are required to wear personal fall-protection equipment, occupants shall comply with instructions provided by the aerial platform manufacturer regarding anchorage(s). If additional fall protection is required, by an employer or the authority having jurisdiction, Skyjack recommends the use of a travel-restraint system to keep the occupant within the confines of the platform and thus not expose the occupant to any fall hazard requiring a fall arrest.” Genie also states that personal fall protection is not required when operating their machines.

Essentially, both Skyjack and Genie are saying that the guardrail provides adequate fall protection and I agree. However, if your employer or legislation requires additional fall protection, they recommend travel restraint. This would be achieved by using a six-foot non-energy-absorbing lanyard or a self-retracting device (SRD) that has been manufactured to be anchored below the D-ring of the worker. Not all of them are, so buyer beware.

It’s important to note that CSA Standard Z259.2.2-17 Self-Retracting Devices has been updated with major revisions and requires SRD’s to be returned to the manufacturer or manufacturer-approved agent no more than two years after the date of manufacture for inspection and maintenance, and annually thereafter. Additionally, the former types 1, 2 and 3 have now changed to SRL, SRL-LE (leading edge) and SLE-LE-R (leading edge retrieval).

The main reason for the SRL or the non-energy-absorbing lanyard in a scissor lift is so that the operator remains within the engineered guardrail as per the manufacturer, hence meeting the travel restraint requirement. Although not all manufacturers specifically recommend travel restraint, it’s the most logical option if additional fall protection is necessary.

Answering the question of maintaining tie-off while in this type of platform while stationary depends on a few factors. This mainly comes down to legislation, site or company rules. For example, in Ontario, according to Regulation 213/91 for Construction Projects, an elevated work platform shall not be moved unless all workers on it are protected from ejection by being attached to an adequate anchorage point on the elevating work platform by a method of fall protection. So, in other words, if you’re not moving on a scissor lift you do not need to be tied off. However, most constructors and employers will require an operator of any elevated work platform be tied off and maintain that tie-off to the manufacturers engineered anchorage point at all times.

When it comes to self-propelled boom-supported elevated work platforms, it’s a different story. Use the shortest energy-absorbing lanyard possible and remain tied off to the manufacturer’s engineered anchor points at all times. This sentiment is consistent in legislation throughout Canada. All too often, operators will tend to use the most common lanyard available: a six-foot energy-absorbing lanyard. It’s not sufficient. Too much lanyard slack combined with uneven surface conditions can launch the operator out of the platform.


Jeff Thorne is manager of training at Occupational Safety Group.


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