What is the best practice for fall protection when a person is working from a "zoom boom" (boom-supported elevating platform) or "scissor lift" (self-propelled elevating work platform): fall restraint or fall arrest?
The employer should determine which method – fall arrest or fall restraint – is practical and provides the safest protection for the employee. In making the decision to use fall restraint or fall arrest protection, it's important to understand why the employee must wear the equipment.
Personnel lifts, such as scissor lifts, do not require additional fall protection devices because of their operating characteristics (they just go up and down) and because they are equipped with primary fall protection (such as a guardrail system). Requirements for using scissor lifts come from a consensus standard, the American National Standards Institute A92.6. The design standard for the scissor lift platform, since at least 1979, requires standard guardrails with the top rail being 42 inches above the platform floor, a midrail at 21 inches, and toeboards on all sides with the exception of the access point. Removable guarding or gates may be used at the access point and must be secured prior to operation of the lift.
Boom supported elevating work platforms/extensible/zoom booms have additional fall protection requirements. ANSI A92.5 provides the consensus standard for safe operation. Individual manufacturers such as JLG, Genie or Gradall follow the A92.5 standards. In addition to stating that "you must follow all operating and maintenance instructions and recommendations of the manufacturer," Oregon OSHA's requirements for personnel protection [437-003-0073(2)] state that "workers must use personal fall protection that complies with Subdivision 3/M...when working in these devices." The requirements for using this equipment are in Scaffolding, Subdivision 3/L.
The lifts you mention are equipped with guardrails that serve as a primary fall protection system. The reason for an additional fall restraint or fall arrest system is to prevent the operator from being thrown from the lift should it get hit or a wheel drops into a depression.
Whether you use fall arrest or fall restraint, the system must meet the requirements in Fall Protection, Subdivision 3/M. The anchor used with the harness or belt must be capable of meeting the specific strength requirements. As stated in the rule, "Personal fall restraint systems shall be rigged to prevent the user from falling any distance. Personal fall arrest systems, when stopping a fall, must be rigged so that an employee can neither free fall more than 6 feet nor contact any lower level."
For more information see Program Directive A-242, Fall Protection: Personnel Lifts Used in Construction.
Questions? Contact Ron Haverkost at (503) 947-7421 or (Ronald.L.Haverkost@state.or.us).