Safety Above Begins With Safety Below
From the ground level, an aerial work platform can look risky and intimidating. It takes training and practice to master the skill of operating a man lift. Yet some of the most important work happens before the operator sets foot on a platform. A proper job site assessment helps to eliminate the risk and uncertainty of working dozens of feet in the air and ensures a safer work environment.
The training for any boom lift operator includes basic aerial work platform instruction, machine-specific familiarization and proficiency tests. A critical part of the process is learning how to conduct a job site assessment a routine that should be followed without fail for every job, at the beginning and end of each workday.
A trained operator knows what to look for on a job site. First, he takes an assessment of all appropriate personal protective equipment: hardhats, safety glasses, gloves, proper footwear, fall-protection devices, etc. Is the right equipment on-hand and in good condition for every worker?
Next, it's time for the actual site risk assessment. This involves a slow, methodical and thorough walk-around and visual inspection of the planned path of movement for the track lift. This process allows the operator to identify drop-offs, holes and obstructions that may impede work or create unsafe conditions. The operator should take particular note of the surface material and support structure to ensure that everything can withstand the loads and forces imposed by the aerial work platform. It's also important to avoid operating on or over surfaces or conditions such as drains, trenches and manhole covers, waterlogged or frozen ground, uncompacted fill and other unstable areas. Additionally, the operator should share his work plans and intended machine movements with anyone in the vicinity of the lift's path.
Once the initial walkthrough and ground assessment are completed, the inspector next reverses his path. Now, he observes the overhead surroundings, looking for obstructions, electric lines and hazardous wind and weather conditions, if working outdoors. Atmospheric conditions should also be considered to account for explosive, toxic or other airborne threats to a safe work environment. Once all potential risks and hazards have been identified and assessed, it may become necessary to alter the track lift's path of work.
At Teupen USA, we never lose sight of a guiding principle, and we encourage others to remember it as well: safety is far more important than speed when planning and completing a job. The benefits of thorough workplace and job site assessments reach far beyond safety. It has been proven that proper work preparation results in significant financial, morale and employee satisfaction benefits.
Are job site risk assessments part of the normal routine of your organization?
Please note that this article is only a basic overview, and we invite you to explore more comprehensive information on workplace risk assessments. Teupen USA is a certified AWPT Training Center and an active member of IPAF. Both organizations offer extensive support and training materials, which can be found at www.awpt.org and www.ipaf.org. All Teupen machines operating in North America are designed, built and tested to comply with applicable ANSI and CSA standards. For additional information on our company and our products, please visit www.teupen-usa.com.