Why does OSHA require us to tie off in an aerial lift work platform that is already equipped with standard guardrails for fall protection? Body Restraint.
If you have ever been inside the platform of a boom-lift that was driven over a rough surface or had the lifting control sharply shifted can cause the platform to severely bounce. This bouncing action in certain scenarios can or could easily cause the rider to be thrown from the platform. To prevent a fall the rider must wear a safety belt or a full body harness that is equipped with a short lanyard attached to the work platform with the lanyard being short enough to prevent the person if they were to fall from being thrown off the platform. In other words the short lanyard prevents you from falling from the bucket as opposed to catching you mid fall.
Being thrown from a boom lift may seem like an obvious possibility to most , so maybe you’re wondering how a person could fall from the platform of a scissor lift. A scissor lift only moves vertically so it would seem to have less of a bounce risk and however this is where a mistakes are made. When you read OSHA standards for aerial lifts as well as ANSI A92.2 you will see they apply to extensible and articulating boom platforms but do not cover scissor lifts. Scissor lifts are actually covered in a separate ANSI standard that has not been adopted by OSHA. Since OSHA has no specific regulations addressing scissor lift fall prevention they refer to their scaffolding standards.
OSHA released a letter of interpretation clarifying the requirements regarding aerial lifts vs scissor lifts, “when working from an elevated scissors lift (ANSI A92.6 series), a worker need only be protected from falling by a properly designed and maintained guardrail system. However, if the guardrail system is less than adequate, or the worker leaves the safety of the work platform, an additional fall protection device would be required. The general scaffolding fall protection provision found in 1926.451(g)(1)(vii) reads in part, “[f]or all scaffolds not otherwise specified in this section, each employee shall be protected by the use of personal fall arrest systems or guardrails systems.”
Hopefully this has clarified any questions regarding harnessing aerial & scissor lift platforms. If you have any other questions or concerns visit OSHA for all regulations and standards involving equipment!