Fall Protection: What You Need to Know

Fall Protection: What You Need to Know

It’s important to understand the rules to ensure your following them, so we’ve put together a quick guide on the basics of fall protection requirements for mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs). Under the OSHA Aerial Lift Regulation, the employer, user and operator of a lift are all responsible for providing approved fall protection to employees/users. For boom-type lifts, personal fall arrest systems have specific requirements which must be met to remain within compliance. These requirements involve calculating fall distance and potential arresting force.

There are a couple of options for personal fall protection equipment for boom-type MEWPs. One is a full body harness with fall restraint system and the other is a full body harness with a self-retracting life/lanyard system. These systems are specifically required to not allow for the operator to fall more than 6 feet or to exceed 1,800 pounds in arresting force. Operators cannot come into contact with any lower surface.

Fall restraint and fall arrest are two categories of fall protection, according to an article published by Grainger.  A fall restraint system can be used to help prevent the worker from falling or being thrown from the platform and include: a short or adjustable restraint lanyard and a body belt or a full-body harness. A fall arrest system is used to minimize the distances and consequences of a fall should one occur. They are designed to provide freedom of movement for the worker and include: a self-retracting lifeline and a full body harness.

Some factors must be taken into consideration before the self-retracting/lanyard system can be used. First, the fall restraint lanyard must be used during travel and when platform height is below the calculated total fall distance. The fall arrest lanyard can be used when the platform height is above the calculated total fall distance and, secondly, when the body belt with fall restraint is arranged so that the employee is not exposed to falling any distance outside the platform.

When calculating the total fall distance, it’s important to take into consideration the following (according to an article published by Aerial Pros):

  • Lanyard free fall distance (a)
  • Maximum allowable deceleration distance (b)
  • Maximum lock‐up length (for the self‐retracting lifeline/lanyard only) (a+b)
  • The height of the operator (c)
  • Safety factor (a suitable amount to ensure that the required clearance between the operator and the lower surface is met) (d)
    • Any stretch in the lifeline or lanyard outside of the deceleration distance.
    • Any harness effects
    • Any movement of the platform due to dynamic loading
    • Any obstructions under the platform

Other fall protection requirements which OSHA enforces, include:

  • Ensure that access gates or openings are closed.
  • Stand firmly on the floor of the bucket or lift platform.
  • Do not climb on or lean over guardrails or handrails.
  • Do not use planks, ladders, or other devices as a working position.
  • Use a body harness or a restraining belt with a lanyard attached to the boom or bucket.
  • Do not belt-off to adjacent structures or poles while in the bucket.

For more detailed information on the rules and standards which regular fall arrest systems read the following OSHA and ANSI documents, according to the International Powered Access Federation (IPAF), a not-for-profit organization owned by its members, which include manufacturers, rental companies, distributors, contractors and users.

For more information, please contact your local OSHA agency, your local fall protection supplier or visit: https://www.osha.gov/Publications/aerial-lifts-factsheet.html

Subscribe to our email list for update on new blogs, promotions & more!

Hugg & Hall Equipment Company is a comprehensive equipment provider offering services and expertise in the rental, sales, parts and service markets. The company offers a wide variety of equipment options for rent and purchase, including: material handling equipment (forklifts, pallet jacks, etc.), heavy equipment, mobile elevating work platforms (boom lifts, scissor lifts), air compressors, generators and more. Hugg & Hall Equipment Company offers industry-leading equipment brands for purchase or rental, like: Toyota, Bobcat, Crown, Taylor, Doosan, JLG and others. With value-added services and a focus on their customers, Hugg & Hall Equipment Company is the one-stop shop for every construction and industrial equipment need.