IPAF Representatives Address OSHA Committee

Kevin O’Shea and Tony Groat, recently addressed OSHA’s Advisory Committee for Construction Safety and Health (ACCSH) in Washington D.C. O’Shea reported on the work that has been done by the mast climber industry since December 2007, while Groat focused on appropriate training for AWP operators.

During the meeting, O’Shea, of Mastclimbers LLC, Atlanta, Ga., stressed that MCWPs are not rental-ready products, they need to be erected before use, and guidelines are required for their erection and dismantling and their use. It is estimated that there are 8,400 MCWP units in the U.S., with an average utilization of 70 percent or 5,880 units in use on a daily basis. The average duration for a MCWP on a job is about two months with an average number of five dismantles and erects per unit per job or about 30 dismantles and erects each year per unit.

This means that MCWPs are erected or dismantled around 176,400 times per year. On average there are three users per unit, so up to 17,640 people are using this equipment every day. Depending on the length of any individual job, 25 percent of that labor force could change every four to six weeks.

Three years ago O’Shea, chairman of the International Powered Access Federation (IPAF), International Mast Climbing Work Platform (MCWP) Committee, and co-chair of the Scaffold Industry Association (SIA), MCWP Council, discussed the need for a revision of the ANSI A92.9 MCWP design standards, the necessity for industry-wide safe use guidance, and the need for a wide range of training courses for all levels of expertise and responsibility. Since that time through a combined effort of SIA and IPAF, a revised A92.9 MCWP design standard is due for release in early 2011 and a new document, “IPAF Guidelines for the Safe Use of Mast Climbing Work Platforms” has been released.

The document is a comprehensive guide for the management, installation and use of the product that has been reviewed and endorsed by the SIA. In addition, IPAF’s internationally recognized training course for MCWPs and its Powered Access Licensed-Registration (the PAL card), are now being offered by IPAF training centers and SIA’s Accredited Training Institutes in North America.

The SIA has also created an alliance with OSHA to produce outreach materials for mast climbing work platforms, including a tip sheet that contains vital user safety information. Additional information on the assessment of ground conditions, and safe methods of tying to the structure, are currently in the review process as is an MCWP Awareness Course for OSHA regulators.

At the conclusion of O’Shea’s presentation, the ACCSH committee put forward a motion to make the “IPAF Guidelines for the Safe Use of Mast Climbing Work Platforms” available online and to set up a working group to recognize the work that has been completed for MCWP safety to date. The committee also called for continued development of additional guidelines for the erection, dismantling and safe use of the equipment.

During the public comment session, Groat, executive vice president of American Work Platform Training Inc., IPAF’s North American subsidiary, discussed a lack of clarity of what is appropriate operator training. He stated that a document designed to address this problem, titled “Statement of Best Practices of General Training and Familiarization for Aerial Work Platform Equipment,” was launched in February 2010 by a group of trade associations including the American Rental Association (ARA), the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), the Associated Equipment Distributors (AED), IPAF and SIA.

This first-of-its-kind industry initiative is an educational document that defines the differences between training and familiarization, and clarifies what is required for general training and model-specific familiarization of AWP equipment. Developed for use in the US, it incorporates industry recognized and supported standards, including the ANSI/SIA A92 Standards and the OSHA regulations. It presents best practices and minimum general training guidelines for AWP operators and clarifies the minimum qualifications of the AWP trainer.

Groat said that the Statement of Best Practices is currently available for use by OSHA, and that IPAF is in the process of creating another best-practice document for personal fall protection equipment used with AWPs. It will be available as soon as it is completed.