Mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs) are indispensable tools when it comes to allowing workers to work safely at height. However, there are specific hazards associated with their operation that operators must be aware of. These hazards have been identified by the manufacturers, can be found in the operator's manual for each model, and are to be observed in conjunction with all other workplace safety rules and regulations.
One of the hazards that operators must always be on the alert for is windy conditions. Per ANSI1, outdoor-rated MEWPs must be designed to be stable in winds up to 28 mph if all other factors are taken into consideration, which I will discuss further in a moment. Any wind above 28 mph will place the machine, and the occupants, in serious jeopardy.
One unfortunate example of that is described on the OSHA Scissor Lift Fact Sheet 2:
“Caution: Wind Can Make Extended Scissor Lifts Unstable.
During the Fall 2010 college football season, a student who was also an employee of the University of Notre Dame was killed while filming the school’s football team practice from a scissor lift. Reportedly, the untrained worker raised the lift over 39 feet to film the practice. The wind gusts that day were more than 50 miles per hour. The high winds blew the lift over, killing the worker.”
Please note that this example from the OSHA Scissor Lift Fact Sheet stresses that the individual was untrained. One comment that I often hear from untrained operators is, “I thought it would be safe or it wouldn’t let me go up.” The fact is that MEWPs are only machines, and even with all the safety devices that are designed into them, they are only truly safe in the hands of well trained, well supervised operators.
In the latest round of ANSI A92 design standards3, there are provisions for both outdoor rated and indoor-only rated machines. Indoor-only machines can only be used in areas that are not exposed to any wind whatsoever. This even includes warehouses or other structures with open bay doors.
All MEWPs that were manufactured to the previous standards are unaffected by that change. However, it is important to note that some manufacturers released indoor-only machines before the standards changed, so it’s important to be aware of the limitations on the MEWP being used. Indoor-only MEWPs must be clearly marked to that effect in a durable manner in an easily visible place.
Many new scissor lifts provide an option to switch between indoor and outdoor modes. Operators should never use a machine in indoor mode while working outside, or in areas where the air is moving (such as around large shop fans).
When using outdoor-rated MEWPs, in outdoor mode, the best rule of thumb is if you are not comfortable with the situation, don’t go up. If you are elevated and wind speeds do exceed 28 mph, immediately lower the MEWP and do not continue to operate the machine. There are tools that can be used to estimate wind speed, such as the Beaufort Wind Chart4, and if you are unsure, small handheld wind meters (anemometers) are available online for less than $30.
There are other factors concerning wind that need to be taken into consideration as well. The combined weight of the occupants, materials, tools, and any options or accessories must never exceed the rated platform capacity of the MEWP. Care must be taken when handling building materials, sheet materials, panels and other such materials that can act as sails. No modifications or additions to the MEWP that affect its wind loading — and consequently its stability — should be made without the manufacturer’s approval. Certain manufacturer-approved options and accessories, such as panel cradles and material holders (when installed) can impose a reduced maximum wind speed rating.
The shielding and funneling effects of certain structures can cause high wind speeds and turbulence on days when the wind speed in open areas is low, so caution should always be taken when working between buildings, in alleyways or other confined spaces. Other potential sources of local high wind speed that must be taken into considered in relation to safety at worksites are at airports and along roadways.
2 Working Safely with Scissor Lifts
3 ANSI A92.20-2021.6.4.7
4 Beaufort Wind Chart — Estimating Wind Speeds
This Safety Flash was contributed by Scott Owyen, Genie Director of Training in cooperation with SEAA’s Safety Committee. It is designed to keep members informed about ongoing safety issues and to provide suggestions for reducing risk. Best practices are gathered from a variety of sources. They may be more or less stringent than individual corporate policies and are not intended to be an official recommendation from SEAA. Always get approval and direction from your company officers on any new practice or procedure as these best practices may not work for all situations.
Everyone benefits when a worker avoids injury. Submit your ideas for Safety Flash to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Identify Task Specific Pinch Points
Did you know that hand and arm injuries are the most frequent and preventable injury in the workplace, accounting for more than 23 percent of injuries, according to an article by Safety + Health magazine?
On that same note, an article from Occupational Health & Safety magazine reported that more than one million workers are sent to the emergency room each year due to serious hand, arm, and finger injuries.
Training, communication, and planning are often all that’s needed to reduce risk of pinch points on the job.
On a recent reinforcing steel project, the task was to adjust a pier cap filled with #11 bar. Shelby Erectors, a reinforcing steel and metal decking and member of SEAA, experienced a minor incident where an employee pinched his arm when the pier cap shifted.
Here is what we discovered when we reviewed the incident.
The pinch point risk was identified and addressed in the daily pre-task meeting, however, the injured employee showed up late and did not go through the original pre-task meeting. The foreman allowed the worker to get right to work rather than reviewing the pre-task information with him individually.
Although the hurt employee was trying to do the right thing by jumping to work after being late, he was not fully aware of how the task was being approached to avoid risk. This resulted in the employee putting his arm in an area that was not fully protected.
Training on identifying pinch points and proper planning to avoid the hazard are key to incident prevention.
What are potential pinch points?
These examples are just a few of the possible pinch points Shelby Erectors comes across in the course of typical work days.
Best Practices to avoid pinch points:
Occupational Health & Safety: Understanding Hand Injuries in the Workplace
Safety + Health: Hand Safety Programs
OSHA Cranes & Derricks in Construction 1926.1430(e)
Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Act, Fact Sheet on Pinch Points
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employer-Reported Workplace Injuries and Illnesses Report 2020
This Safety Flash was contributed by Jason Zyla, Safety Manager, Shelby Erectors, in cooperation with SEAA’s Safety Committee. It is designed to keep members informed about ongoing safety issues and to provide suggestions for reducing risk. Best practices are gathered from a variety of sources. They may be more or less stringent than individual corporate policies and are not intended to be an official recommendation from SEAA. Always get approval and direction from your company officers on any new practice or procedure as these best practices may not work for all situations.
Everyone benefits when a worker avoids injury. Submit your ideas for Safety Flash to email@example.com.
The sold-out Dave Schulz Memorial Golf Tournament supporting SEAA’s safety and education projects raised more than $13,000. “For our first venture west, turnout for the tournament and participation in the Meet & Greet held the previous night was outstanding,” said Pete Gum, Executive Director. More than 80 people registered for the Meet & Greet and 60 golfers competed in the tournament. “We appreciate the support of sponsors, who made this a successful meeting,” said Gum.
The tournament was held at the Omni Interlocken Golf Club in Broomfield, Colo., on September 16, where a scramble was played on three adjacent courses. Golfers repeatedly claimed that the greens, fairways, and mountain scenery made this one of the most beautiful courses they had ever played. The tournament returns to its original location in North Carolina in 2023.
“We were thrilled that Denver local Kayleen McCabe, representing the McCabe Foundation, joined us,” said Carrie Gulajan, Events Chairperson. McCabe, who is a construction industry celebrity and former SEAA convention keynote speaker, is an advocate for careers in the construction trades.
Peer Group Discusses Recruiting, Retention
The meeting also included its first-ever Peer Group, a small discussion group of local companies which met the previous day, prior to the Meet & Greet. The theme of the discussion was recruiting and retention. “Two years ago, SEAA’s Board of Directors made a strategic decision to re-form committees, opening them up to members at large in order to provide more opportunities for member engagement. As those positions have been filled, we are now implementing phase two—local peer groups,” said Jack Nix, Membership Chairperson.
Facilitated by Tucker Smith of BBSI and Victor Garcia of Denver’s Flawless Steel Welding, the group of about 10 shared struggles and best practices. “Peer groups are a safe place to speak openly. That dialog is critical to giving SEAA members in a local area connections and resources for improving their businesses and the industry,” said Nix.
Following the Peer Group, area erectors, fabricators, engineering firms, and suppliers learned about new benefits of SEAA membership and heard about product and services solutions from sponsors Kenwood, Nelson Stud Welding, and Well Works.
The following golfers took home prizes provided by these sponsors.
First Place Team, Total Gross Score of 60: Zack Ganzell, JD Daniels, Austin Mouw, and Brian Hildebrand of Bigge Crane and Rigging Co. Hildebrand was also one of two people that got the ball Closest to the Pin.
Second Place Team: Jerad Degenhart, Knight Hinman, Scott Hughes, and Randy Phillips of BBSI.
Third Place Team: Don Laro and Jimmy Zolty of GWY and Erich Posdzich and Brice Davison of BDB Fabrication. Zolty also made the Longest Drive.
Fourth Place Team: Drew Heron of Empire Steel, Pat Dunn of L&D Steel USA Inc., Glen Pisani of MAS Building & Bridge, and Nate Bloch of SDS2. Pisani was the other golfer that got the ball Closest to the Pin.
Four individuals qualified for the putting contest: Brandon Rowbottom of Columbia Safety, Jack Nix of Shelby Erectors, Scott Seppers of Trivent Safety Consultants, and Zack Ganzell of Bigge Crane and Rigging.
The Boom Lift Ball Drop, sponsored by United Rentals, brought in $1700. Half of the raffle pot is contributed to Safety & Education projects and half goes to the winner Thomas Newman of Trivent Safety Consultants.
Mark Your Calendars
SEAA’s first quarter board meeting will be held in Tampa, Fla., January 19, followed by a Career Fair on January 20 in Lakeland. The Career Fair will be hosted by GMF Steel Group. SEAA is currently seeking area members and vendors that would like to have a hands-on station at the Career Fair. High School students will attend the morning session and adults, veterans, and post-secondary technical school students will attend the afternoon session. Contact Bryttany Marona at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in participating.
The 2023 Convention & Trade Show will be held March 28-31, 2023 in St. Augustine, Fla. Registration opens October 10.