30.12.2006

Harness Poll results

So should the wearing of Harnesses with a short lanyard be a legal requirement on boom lifts?

Our three week Poll is now closed, in total 621 votes were cast. In the first week over 85 percent of the votes said yes they should.

But as the time progressed so did the number of No’s, finally settling at around 23 percent against, leaving 73 percent in favour of a legal requirement.

In pure number terms 479 votes were cast in favour of a law while 142 votes said No.

It seems that one of the concerns driving the No camp is the already overpowering tendency to shift responsibility from the individual to a legal requirements and a safety officer.

This argument has merit, there is no question that, particularly in the UK, the safety ‘jobs-worth’ who blindly insists on the use of very visible ‘safety’ items of yellow jackets, hard hats goggles and gloves when there may be absolutely no reason for such items, has made the workplace a less safe place by bringing safety equipment into disrepute.

However few things are sadder than seeing two dead men under a perfectly stable and perfectly functioning boom lift.

Few of us would drive with out putting on a safety belt in a car these days and yet until it became a legal requirement most of us did in spite of grisly adverts warning us of the dangers.

There is a chance that new regulations will state that harnesses should be worn in boom lifts, but little chance that it will go into national law.

What we can do in the meantime is to promote the need to wear harnesses with short lanyards as widely and effectively as we can. Those in the industry can set the example by wearing them themselves when using, testing or loading boom lifts.

We need to stress the fact that this is nothing to do with falling overboard and all to do with keeping operators in the basket when booms experience a catapult effect. This can be caused when the lift is hit by a passing vehicle, by dropping off a kerb, into a hole or off of a loading ramp or by a mechanical failure.

This is the very reason why harnesses should not be worn in Scissor lifts; a scissor lift has no significant cantilever and thus does not therefore produce a catapult effect.

If a scissor falls over then it is safer to be free of the lift than attached to it. For example it has been know for a man to jump onto a façade or to grab an overhead beam in such instances. If falling with the lift, ones chances are better if not attached; the chance of jumping clear is always a possibility while being attached the falling lift with a lanyard offers no benefits.

With the lack of a legal requirement, IPAF and the CPA have called for us all to promote the use of harnesses and short lanyards. We hope that you will all join in with this campaign, perhaps we can make the use of harnesses standard with persuasion rather than law- who knows?



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