Operating at height with an aerial lift necessitates ensuring a secure environment for operators positioned in the basket as well as those remaining on the ground. Among these provisions, the selection of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should particularly grab your attention.
As an employer, it’s your duty to ascertain that your operators are equipped with the right gear, i.e., the one suited to the environment they will operate in. To assist you in this endeavor, we aim to explore with you how you can make the right PPE choice and assure safety for your employees and other road users.
Understanding risks and safety requirements
It is no secret that the use of aerial lifts involves certain inherent risks that are vital to understand. Operators in the lift basket as well as those on the ground have to confront hazards such as:
- Falls from height,
- Electric shocks,
- Suspended objects,
- Weather conditions, and many more.
Being aware of all these risks is a significant first step to implement appropriate safety measures and to look into the right protective equipment for your operators to wear.
Assessing PPE needs
Before choosing PPE, we advise evaluating beforehand the specific needs of each task and each operator. Each work-at-height job might have different protective requirements.
For instance, if the operator is required to work near power lines, consider the risk of electric shock and choose appropriate PPE accordingly.
Even though the most commonly used PPE include:
- Safety harness,
- Safety shoes,
- Non-slip gloves,
Your operators might need to equip differently. For instance, if they regularly engage in vegetation trimming, they might very well need goggles to shield against sawdust or wooden debris projections.
Selecting the right PPE based on the work-at-height environment
Having taken the time to identify the risks faced by your operators and to stay informed about safety requirements, all that remains now is to choose the PPE your operators will have to wear when working at height with your aerial lifts.
Our aim here is not to tell you what the best PPE are, you would have understood that there aren’t any since each equipment responds to different needs. However, we will guide you through the choices to be made based on several criteria that we deem essential.
a) Compatibility with aerial lifts
Choose PPE that are compatible with the use of your fleet of aerial lifts. For example, safety harnesses should be specifically designed for use at height and adapted to the available anchorage points on the lifts.
Ensure that the selected PPE can be used safely without impeding the operator’s movements.
b) Compliance with safety standards
Check that the selected PPE comply with current safety standards. Regulatory bodies and industrial standards establish specific requirements for each type of PPE to ensure their effectiveness. Make sure the chosen equipment comply with these standards and carry the appropriate certifications.
c) Operator comfort
Operator comfort is a crucial aspect when choosing PPE. Uncomfortable PPE can affect the operator’s productivity and safety. For example, an uncomfortable helmet will force the operator to frequently reposition it, which could lead to irritation, annoyance, and therefore reduced concentration but increased risks due to negligence.
Therefore, opt for equipment that provides suitable adjustment and padding, as well as good breathability. Lightness and flexibility are also relevant features to ensure comfort throughout the workday.
d) Durability and quality
PPE should be made from durable and high-quality materials to ensure their effectiveness and resistance to harsh working conditions. Investing in high-quality PPE extends their useful life and minimizes the risk of failure or premature damage. Consult reputable suppliers and favor well-regarded brands to ensure the quality of the selected PPE.
Keeping all these considerations in mind, your operators and you will be better equipped to choose the appropriate PPE for the use of aerial lifts.