Prevent catapulting out of a boom lift

In July 2006 the Scaffold Industry Association’s Aerial Platform Council met with aerial lift manufacturers and fall protection equipment manufacturers. The goal: to close the gap between the lift manufacturers’ requirements and fall protection companies’ products for catapulting protection in boom lifts.

Meeting of the minds
We learned several things during that meeting. This was the first time these aerial lift and fall protection manufacturers had sat down and talked to each other. Second, the required use of a harness and lanyard on boom-supported aerial lifts is fall-restraint or catapulting protection — it is not a fall arrest system.

The intent of the harness and lanyard is keeping the occupants inside the protection of the guardrail system in the event they should be catapulted upwards.

Third, the system and equipment in use might not prevent a catapulting event. Occupants of the boom lift could go over the guardrails and end up hanging outside the platform guardrails. Most systems in use would allow occupants to be catapulted over the guardrails into a “fall arrest” situation not intended by the lift manufacturers.

Fourth, the most current ANSI standards did not address the type of harness, lanyard or restraint system to be used.

Fifth, many different harness and lanyard systems were used in the field because no guidelines existed for proper selection and use of fall-restraint equipment used on boom lifts.

Steps toward a solution
Shortly after this meeting, Joseph Feldstein of MSA, representing the International Safety Equipment Association, wrote a letter to the Aerial Platform Council of the SIA and offered support to work on solutions with the aerial lift manufacturers to close the gap on this important problem.

A few weeks later, the Aerial Platform Council and Feldstein announced a potential solution to the catapulting hazard on boom lifts. The ISEA, represented by Feldstein, outlined the concerns and regulations to the industry and helped define the solution to this problem.

Because the consensus is that the harness and lanyard required by OSHA and ANSI on a boom-supported platform is a fall-restraint system, Feldstein explained the anchorage on the platform would have to support a dynamic load of only 3,000 lbs. Currently, ANSI A92.5 requires the anchorage to be 3,600 lbs.

Next, Feldstein said the anchorage needs to be large enough to accommodate all the styles of snaphooks that might connect to it. Both OSHA and ANSI Z-359 state that the snaphook size must be compatible with the anchorage in order to prevent a rollout. Feldstein then demonstrated a prototype harness/belt with an adjustable non-energy absorbing lanyard (shortened to about 3.5 feet) system.

For this “prototype harness/belt/short adjustable lanyard system” to work properly and keep the occupant of the boom lift inside the platform within protection of the guardrails, it would require the anchorage attachment point in the platform to be very close to the floor of the platform/basket. Manufacturers of aerial lift equipment would need to relocate the anchorage points on their boom lifts to accommodate this type fall-restraint system. Lanyard anchorage attachment point placements could vary widely, but most were not anywhere near the floor of the platform.

To prevent occupants of a boom lift from being catapulted over the guardrails on any current model boom lifts, lanyards would have to be about two feet long. This would greatly reduce mobility around the platform. Lowering to the floor the anchorage points on boom lifts for this prototype fall-restraint system would not only accommodate this system, but would help solve another problem: occupants stepping onto the guardrails to gain additional height (prohibited by both OSHA and ANSI). Lowering the anchorage points would tether the guardrails to the floor of the platform.

Many thanks to the ISEA and Joseph Feldstein for their work on this problem and coming up with a possible solution. We need to keep the dialogue alive and moving forward to a resolution we can all agree on to ultimately prevent injuries in the field.

Aerial Work Platform Training and SIA Technical Guidance Note AWPT H1/06/07 (available at: covers:
  • Personal Fall Protection in Aerial Work Platforms
  • Boom Supported Work Platforms (Boom Lifts) ANSI A92.5 and Vehicle-Mounted and Towable Work Platforms ANSI A92.2
OSHA regulations require the occupants of a boom lift to wear personal fall protection equipment while in the platform. When working from a boom-type Aerial Work Platform (AWP), it’s strongly recommended that a full body harness with an adjustable lanyard be used to provide work restraint. The lanyard should be adjusted to be as short as possible (and may have a shock absorbing section if permitted by the aerial work platform manufacturer).

This would include:
  • Boom-Supported Elevating Work
  • Platforms (ANSI A92.5)
  • Vehicle-Mounted Elevating and Rotating Aerial Devices (ANSI A92.2).
  • Self-Propelled and Manually-Propelled Elevating Work Platforms - Scissor Lifts and Vertical Lifts (ANSI A92.6 and A92.3)
It is not normally necessary for personnel working from Self-Propelled and Manually-Propelled Elevating Work Platforms (e.g. scissor lifts and vertical lifts) to wear personal fall protection equipment, except when the manufacturer recommends the use of, or requires the use of, personal fall protection equipment.

This would include:
  • Self-Propelled Elevating Work Platforms (ANSI A92.6)
  • Manually-Propelled Elevating Work Platforms (ANSI A92.3).
The need for a personal fall protection system will be the result of a job-specific risk analysis undertaken prior to work starting and taking into consideration the manufacturer’s operator’s instructions as found in the operator’s manual.

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