Hazard identification and training
When employers direct personnel to operate an AWP, they have a responsibility to warn the operators of potential hazards, provide the means to protect against the hazard and explain the potential consequences of not following proper operating guidelines. A proper risk assessment should always be conducted to recognize the safest means to perform a task and the procedures to be used.
A risk assessment can allow an AWP to be used safely in a work site that has a confined overhead area or obstructions. This will require site managers to become aware of the specific precautions and procedures needed when planning and supervising work in these areas.
It is also critical that operators are adequately trained to recognize the risk associated with AWP use. The mobility and flexibility of today's AWPs make it hard for an operator to foresee the danger in manipulating these machines into place.
In Europe, the International Powered Access Federation is working jointly with the Construction Plant-hire Association to call on AWP users to take extra care when planning and using lifts where confined overhead areas or obstructions are present. Their goal is to produce a best practices guide for such applications that will be applicable wherever AWPs are in operation. For more information about their efforts, visit www.ipaf.org or www.awpt.org.
Tony Groat is the North American representative for the International Powered Access Federation (IPAF), and executive vice president of Aerial Work Platform Training (AWPT) Inc.