How do you determine what is the most appropriate aerial work platform (AWP) equipment to use for a specific job? What is a “workplace risk assessment” and why is it so important?
These are just a few of the questions answered in the third and latest Statement of Best Practices for Workplace Risk Assessment and Aerial Work Platform Equipment Selection created by the American Rental Association (ARA), the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), the International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) and the Scaffold & Access Industry Association (SAIA). This document was unveiled last month at The Rental Show in Las Vegas.
The 36-page best practices document offers rental operators and their customers:
- Applicable Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations and American National Standards Institute (ANSI)/SAIA A92 Standards.
- Information on how to assess the risk of potential hazards for the work to be done and implement appropriate control measures to reduce or eliminate such risks.
- Guidance on issues to consider in the selection of the most appropriate AWP equipment to perform the work needed.
- Help in incorporating best practices into a company’s workplace risk assessment plan.
“The first two best practices documents dealt primarily with the operator and what regulations and standards govern that person,” says Jake Kidd, operations trainer at Sunstate Equipment Co., Phoenix, who served on the working group.
“This best practices document deals with the safety of co-workers, as well as the operator, regarding awareness of risks before they can become a serious accident. The footprint of AWP equipment use continues to go up as it is the safest way to work at height; however, when an accident does occur, the ramifications are that much greater due to the height at which the operator places himself,” Kidd says.
Recognizing and then understanding what to do about these issues are so important, says fellow working group member Jeff Stachowiak, national safety training director at Sunbelt Rentals in Fort Mill, S.C., because “I believe that workplace hazards are the leading cause of AWP accidents. I know that in 90 percent of the accidents I’ve investigated, the root cause was something at the workplace. That is what makes this document so important. It tries to list out everything that possibly could be a problem on a job site, offers possible corrective measures to take and highlights the consequences of not taking action,” Stachowiak says.
It also “provides detailed information about the considerations when choosing the most appropriate AWP for their work,” adds Maura Paternoster, risk manager, ARA Insurance, Kansas City, Mo., who was part of the working group for the document.
Paternoster says that is crucial because “several of our customers have submitted claims for accidents that resulted in severe, debilitating injuries primarily because the renter requested the wrong type of AWP for the job. Other customers have had to convince renters that the machine they requested was not appropriate and encourage them to rent another. Unfortunately, many potential renters of AWPs don’t know enough about equipment options or the risks involved in using an inappropriate AWP to ask questions about them.”
It’s about helping everyone in the industry “be on the same page” with terminology and understanding of the application, says Shahid Qureshi, director of product safety and reliability for the Americas, Haulotte Group|BilJax, Archbold, Ohio, who also was part of the working group.
“This document is a reaffirmation of what we, as a manufacturer, had intended a product to be used for. This reference document gives guidelines and helps one to be more articulate in decision-making. It is pertinent to understand, follow and practice safety. If not, we all face the consequences. Ultimately, the objective is: Safely home, everyone, every day,” Qureshi says.
“Hopefully, this document will help focus more people on understanding that there are hazards associated with any job you may take on,” says Brad Boehler, president, Skyjack, Guelph, Ontario, Canada, whose company also served on the working group. “This document will help bring awareness to the management or competent person on the job site to set forth practices to mitigate hazards they may find.”
Understanding which AWP equipment to use, recognizing hazards and taking steps to mitigate them are important for all who work with AWP equipment, Kidd adds. “The hope is that workplace owners, supervisors and safety directors read the document and incorporate its guidance into their workplaces with the help of their respective employers,” he says.
In addition, “every rental company driver, mechanic, salesperson and safety trainer who operates AWPs every day” can learn from this document because “quite often a rental yard is very congested and full of many hazards. Therefore, this should be the first level of a ‘risk analysis.’ The second level is for these same employees to impart their safety wisdom on the customers who rent AWPs, the drivers upon delivery, yard personnel on customer ‘will calls’ and salespeople when securing rental business,” Kidd says.
Stachowiak agrees. “Every rental company should examine this and look at their policies. If a customer says that he needs a 60-ft. boom, we should look and see whether that is the best piece of equipment for the job. I hope those in the rental industry use this to their advantage to elevate the industry and to be more than just a rental business supplying equipment. We can be consultants and help people work safely. Because having a good workplace risk assessment and getting the right equipment for the job can help eliminate accidents,” he says.
Three AWP best practices guides created by industry joint effort
The Statement of Best Practices for Workplace Risk Assessment and Aerial Work Platform Equipment Selection is just the latest best practices document that has been created by an industry-wide initiative for those who manufacture, rent and use aerial work platforms (AWPs).
The first document from the industry that was released in 2010 — under the leadership of the American Rental Association (ARA), the Associated Equipment Distributors (AED), the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), the International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) and the Scaffold & Access Industry Association (SAIA) — was the Statement of Best Practices of General Training and Familiarization for Aerial Work Platform Equipment. It addressed what is required for someone to be considered trained or qualified to operate AWP equipment.
The second document, the Statement of Best Practices of Personal Fall Protection Systems for Aerial Work Platform Equipment, which was released in 2011, clarified what is required regarding personal fall protection for certain AWP applications, what issues need to be considered in that selection and what options are available.
Now the latest document, created by ARA, AEM, IPAF and SAIA, focuses on workplace risk assessments, hazard identification and mitigation, and selection of the most appropriate AWP for the job. It was released last month at The Rental Show in Las Vegas.
“The primary goal of this industry-wide effort has been to enhance the training and safe use of AWP equipment,” says Carla Brozick, CAE, ARA’s senior director of education and training. “AWP equipment offers incredible versatility and assistance. It is a mainstay of many rental operations. In order to achieve successful project completion and assure operator safety, it must be used properly. That is why the industry has joined forces these past several years to create these documents. They clarify the industry’s best practices for proper and safe use.”
For more information on this initiative or to offer ideas for future best practices documents, contact Brozick at 800-334-2177, ext. 241, or email@example.com.
Get your copy today
All American Rental Association (ARA) members who have aerial work platform (AWP) equipment in their inventories will receive a copy of the Statement of Best Practices for Workplace Risk Assessment and Aerial Work Platform Equipment Selection — the latest industry AWP best practices guide — with this issue of Rental Management magazine.
Members may purchase printed copies of 10 from ARA for a nominal fee or download a free version from the ARA website. To download, go to ARArental.org and click on “Risk Management.”