The SAIA/OSHA Alliance Works to Create Common Ground

The purpose of SAIA’s alliance with OSHA is to provide: “Information, guidance, and access to training resources that focus on reducing safety and health hazards associated with the use of mast-climbing, scaffolding and aerial lift equipment. In particular, the alliance will address reducing and preventing exposure to fall and caught-inbetween hazards.”

The partnership allows SAIA members to take a proactive approach in accident prevention by creating the opportunity to interface with hundreds of compliance officers and establish working relationships with senior OSHA personnel. On the flipside, OSHA is able to make local compliance aware of the issues and challenges the industry faces.

The Challenge
When OSHA regulations were created, mast-climbing work platforms (MCWP) were not used in the U.S., which makes interpreting existing regulations and determining their application to a mast climber challenging for users, owners, and OSHA compliance staff.

For example, OSHA defines a mast climber as a supported scaffold and the regulations associated with a supported scaffold include rules on base setup, stability, planking, competent and qualified person definitions and roles, fall protection, and training. The problem is that many owners and employers do not associate mast climbers with scaffold regulations, and therefore are not aware of the regulations they should be following.

Additionally, the 5(A) 1 regulation, or General Duty Clause, says employers have an obligation to employees to provide a workplace that is free from recognized hazards, making it imperative that owners and employers are aware of ANSI standards for mast climbers (A92.9).

SAIA Awareness Course
In the spirit of getting the industry and OSHA on the same page, SAIA’s awareness course is a six-hour classroom and practical session designed to provide OSHA personnel
with a comprehensive introduction to mast-climbing work platforms. Topics covered include: definition and use, fall protection, ties and anchors, load distribution, pre-use inspection, handover procedures, and regulations.

The classroom portion is an in-depth session on use, design, responsibilities, regulations, and training requirements. The practical session is conducted on a mast climber brought to the hosting facility and set up particularly for the course. This is an invaluable hands-on approach for compliance officers, as they get the opportunity to get on the actual equipment, see how it operates, and determine how it should be inspected.

Klimer Platforms Ltd. supplied the KlimerLite MCWP for the practical portion of the OSHA compliance officer training in Charlotte and Raleigh, N.C. The sessions provided information which included the safe use of MCWP’s, daily inspection, and operator training.

The training provided in-depth details of each item on Klimer’s MCWP daily inspection checklist. The checklist is part of a process to ensure each piece of equipment is in safe working order and as a reminder to operators of the importance of checking the equipment daily when returning to site.

After this component of the training was complete the compliance officers offered their comments and asked questions. Some of the questions addressed related to machine capacities, types of tie anchors, tie spacing and the function of limit switches, and how best to check them. “There was a great exchange of information and I felt the officers all had a much better understanding of the equipment and the necessity of a daily checklist,” says Jeremy Bouska, sales and project coordinator, with Klimer. The operator training followed with a demonstration on how to properly start the engine, operate the machine to the top of the mast and back down, limit switch operation, machine capacities, and explanation of the essential documents that need to be with the machine at all times. Bouska continues: “After the session was complete we were confident that the training provided the compliance officers with a greater knowledge concerning the safe operation of mast-climbing work platforms and valuable insight on how to recognize the potential hazards associated with this type of equipment.”

“I feel the alliance between OSHA and the SAIA enhances the training of end users and equipment providers in a manner that is consistent with the expectations of the regulators. Everyone is working together for a common goal,” Bouska concludes. Feedback from OSHA personnel has been positive, but ultimately the biggest beneficiary is the industry. With the amount of mast climbers in use in the U.S., the more information on safe use and care that makes its way into the hands of owners and users, the better off safety performance will be in the industry. Open discussion between user/owner and regulator is vital and leads to greater appreciation on both sides.

Awareness courses will continue through 2013 and potentially beyond with attendees meeting in an informal atmosphere to frankly exchange ideas and opinions—a local, positive dialogue between OSHA and safety conscious contractors and owners that certainly needs to occur.

About 250 OSHA personnel have attended awareness courses in California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and North and South Carolina to date. In November, courses hosted 20-plus compliance officers.