Safety First and Last: New aerial safety standards
By Jeff Thorne
Change is a common term used in health and safety, and some changes that come along are way overdue. The CSA Group, formerly known as the Canadian Standards Association, are making changes to the two standards that apply to elevated or aerial work platforms, namely CSA 354.4-02 – Self Propelled Boom-Supported Elevating Work platforms and CSA 354.2-01 – Self Propelled Elevated Work Platforms. Changes are anticipated for early to mid 2017.
By Jeff Thorne
First, the equipment terminology is changing from aerial work platform, or elevated work platform, to mobile elevating work platforms (MEWP’s). We love our acronyms in safety!
Equipment will now be categorized as Group A or B and have types 1, 2, or 3. Group A machines are machines that have platforms over the chassis (such as a scissor lift), while Group B machines have a platform that has the ability to move outside of the chassis (telescopic, articulating booms). There are also anticipated platform design changes. The operator will no longer be able to activate travel controls simultaneously with any other controls and platform-weight sensing will be incorporated into the equipment. Platform-weight sensing will require an onboard system that continually compares weight on the platform against a manufacturer-set limit and the system will disable functions if the limit is exceeded.
Safe use planning requires that an employer develop a program specific to the use of the platform. The overall goal is designed to assess, evaluate and mitigate risk prior to equipment operation.
Details to consider within the program beyond the assessment and control of hazards includes the proper selection of equipment; evaluation of the site’s accessibility and surface conditions to ensure the weight of the equipment can be supported; the performance of maintenance and inspections as recommended by the manufacturer; and ensuring that operators are trained and familiar with the type of equipment. Training certificates will most likely require the group and type to be listed.
Additional plan details focus on overall site safety. It will require trained supervisors to be knowledgeable about the equipment, monitor the performance of the work and ensure operator compliance. The program must indicate how unauthorized users are prevented from using the equipment and how overall pedestrian safety is considered when overhead work is taking place.
Occupant training is a major addition to the standard. Occupants must have a basic level of knowledge regarding safe operation of the equipment, especially in the event that something happens to the operator. Basic knowledge requirements focus on the use of fall protection, manufacturer’s warnings, safe use and stability of the equipment, site safety and emergency control use. An occupant other than the operator must be aware of how to lower the equipment in an emergency.
Maintenance and repair personnel training will now be a requirement under the new standard. This has not been a requirement in Canada, but has been under the ANSI standard for quite some time. Employers will have a responsibility to ensure that anyone performing maintenance or repair of the equipment is trained to maintain the equipment in accordance with manufacturer recommendations and the standard.
There is an aspect of the standard that will affect the rental of such equipment. It will be the responsibility of the owner of the equipment to ensure that the parties responsible for inspections and maintenance are determined prior to rental.
All of these changes are geared towards making sure the selection, use, and maintenance of MEWP’s are incorporated into your health and safety program and operators and occupants are well trained to perform safely and efficiently.