Earlier, we wrote a blog about the requirements for wearing fall protection when working inside a suspended platform or gondola. Besides this type of facade access equipment, other types of machines are often used as well: Mobile Elevated Working Platforms (MEWP).
As the name suggests, these are in fact mobile lifts that are used to reach areas at height. They are hydraulically or pneumatically powered and operated by the worker inside the cradle. MEWPs are used to provide access to for example lantern posts, electric masts, lower building facades or bridges.
In this blog we will discuss the requirements of wearing fall protection in two of the most common MEWPs: Cherry pickers (or Boom lifts) and Scissor lifts.
Working from inside a cherry picker
These are vehicles that have a (telescopic) boom with a basket or platform at the end to position workers inside it towards a work area at height.
Fall protection in a cherry picker – OSHA requirements
The basket of a cherry picker needs to be equipped with guardrails at 42 inches (1,1 meter) above the floor and toe boards to form a safe work area, according to the ANSI A92.2 standard.
Additional to that, the OSHA states that a fall arrest system has to be used when working with a cherry picker. The worker needs to be attached with a full body harness and a short lanyard to the tie off point on the cherry picker, or to the rail that serves as the guardrail.
The reason that a short lanyard needs to be used is because when the cherry picker is moved, the basket may bounce, swing or tilt due to movement or uneven surfaces, possibly launching the worker outside of the basket. To prevent this, body restraint is needed in form of a fall protection system.
Because the worker should always stand firmly on the floor of the basket, he/she should never get into a position where a fall is possible. Besides that, the cherry picker may tumble over when a fall is arrested. That’s why this fall protection is meant as restraint and not as a fall arrest system.
The only exception where the decision can be made not to use fall protection is when work is performed near or above water. Being restraint to the basket or boom when the machine falls into the water is not desirable in that case and may result in drowning.
Fall protection in a cherry picker – EN requirements
The EN standards state that a cherry picker needs to be provided with guardrails on all sides to prevent a fall from happening.
Nevertheless, it’s strongly advised to wear a fall restraint system to provide extra safety in case the basked bounces, tilts and sways, because the cherry picker is moved.
Important! The length of the lanyard should be short enough to prevent a person from reaching a position from where a fall might occur. An energy absorber may be used, but only when the system is still used as a fall restraint system. Furthermore, a proper tie off point needs to be present inside the basket.
Also, according to the EN requirements, when the cherry picker is used near or above water, the decision can be made not to wear a harness, but life jackets instead, to prevent drowning.
Working from inside a scissor lift
A scissor lift is a vertical lift with a hydraulic, pneumatic or mechanical powered platform. The name is derived from the crisscross placement of the mechanism that pushes the platform upward. Apart from mobile scissor lifts, also static lifts exist.
Fall protection in a scissor lift – OSHA requirements
First of all, scissor lifts are classified and subdivided under the requirements for scaffolding (and not under ‘aerial lifts’). The regulations regarding the use of fall protection when working on scaffolds (in this case scissor lifts) are outlined in paragraph 29 CFR 1926.451(g) “Fall Protection”.
Sub-paragraph 1926.451(g)(1)(vii) states: “For all scaffolds not otherwise specified in paragraphs (g)(1)(i) through (g)(1)(vi) of this section, each employee shall be protected by the use of personal fall arrest systems or guardrail systems meeting the requirements of paragraph (g)(4) of this section.”
Since scissor lifts are not mentioned in paragraphs (g)(1)(i) through (g)(1)(vi) and have to be standard equipped with a properly designed guardrail system, no additional fall arrest system is required when working in a scissor lift.
Just as with a scaffold, the guardrail system must be between 1,1 meter (42 inches) and 1,2 meter (45 inches) above the working platform. When mid rails are installed, they have to be placed in the middle between the top rail and working platform, with a maximum distance of 48 centimeters (19 inches) between the different rails.
When working inside a scissor lift, it’s not permitted to stand on the guardrails or having to reach far away from the scissor lift in order to prevent falls.
Fall protection in a scissor lift – EN requirements
It’s not required to wear additional fall protection when working in a vertical lift. Just as outlined in the OSHA standards, a proper guardrail system is sufficient to provide protection against falling.
The only exception here is that a job specific risk assessment prior to the work may indicate the need for wearing fall protection when work is performed inside the scissor lift. For example, a situation may require the person to reach far outside the lift towards a certain work area.
Local laws and requirements
Keep in mind that the described regulations are often complemented with local laws and requirements. When you are planning to work from inside a cherry picker, scissor lift or another type of MEWP, make sure to check the local requirements in your region!
NOTE: Although laws and regulations don’t always oblige the use of fall protection, we strongly advise to do so if the situation allows it.
Download fact sheet
We have created a simple factsheet whether fall protection is mandatory when working from inside a gondola, suspended platform system or a MEWP. It is based on the OSHA regulations (United States) and European Standards (Europe).