Aerial work platforms make it easier and safer to perform tasks at elevated heights. However, even the slightest mistake by the operator can result in a fall that could result in a calamity or a harmful injury.
Hence, it’s essential for operators to always adhere to aerial work platform safety protocols on each and every job. While they may be time-consuming and can often seem boring and unnecessary, in the long run, they are there for the safety of the operator and to prevent any accident.
It All Starts With Training
Operators won’t be able to follow aerial work platform safety procedures if they don’t know what they are in the first place. Management needs to commit to conducting general product training offered by the aerial lift manufacturer and also specific on-the-job training that teaches to tackle real-world situations.
Training sessions should be made mandatory prior to the use of any AWP and should include both written and practical testing of the operator to ensure they have understood what has been taught. The management needs to certify the employees who have received the appropriate training on the equipment that they are going to operate.
Common AWP Mistakes
The training should mainly focus on avoiding the most common mistakes made by the aerial work platform operators. These include:
- Not being aware that potholes and overhead obstructions can be potential hazards
- Modifying safety equipment to improve efficiency or save time
- Not performing a comprehensive equipment inspection prior to operating an AWP
- Not going through the manufacturer’s manual or being unfamiliar with the right operation of a particular component
The Right Aerial Work Platform (AWP) for the Task
Another mistake commonly committed is using an AWP that is not suited for the task. Before any job, the following checklist needs to be considered –
- Required height and reach
- Platform space for operators
- Materials and tools required
The lift’s load capacity should also be considered. If the combined weight of the operator and equipment exceeds the maximum load capacity of the lift, either the weight of the load needs to be reduced or a lift with high load capacity needs to be used.
Complexity of the Job
The first thing that needs to be done before starting any task is to conduct a mandatory walk-through of the premises to identify any potential obstructions, both at ground level and overhead.
Ground obstructions can include things that need to be manoeuvred around, like trees, guard rails, and other vehicles and equipment. Overhead obstructions can include lamp posts, overhead wiring, support beams, roofs, and drop ceilings.
Using an access platform safely requires management and operators alike to recognize the potential dangers, understand the complexities of both the task and like, and conform to safety standards and work rules at all times.