As this is a very frequently asked question, we take a look at the advice and guidance available from IPAF and HSE

The first thing to consider when using fall arrest systems is that their use is not determined by height alone.

Selecting which equipment is right for the job will be a result of the work based risk assessment. This includes appropriate measures such as the type of harness and lanyard needed to reduce the consequences of a fall if the risk of the fall has not been completely eliminated.

The design of a scissor lift generally negates the need to use a safety harness. However, a boom type MEWP, whether mobile or static presents a real danger to the operator. This is due to the movement of the platform because although guarded, can act like a catapult should it hit an obstacle, or be hit by another obstacle and literally throw the operator out of the basket. It is therefore recommended that a restraint lanyard with full body harness is worn.

The length of the lanyard needs to suitable to be effective. In other words, it would not be effective if there is less distance than it takes for the lanyard to deploy. Always refer to the manufacturer’s instruction manual. All operatives using fall arrest equipment should be suitably trained in its activation and use.

As this is one of the most common questions asked on our IPAF training courses, we asked IPAF for further clarification. Tim Whiteman managing director at IPAF says:

“We believe that lives will be saved if companies follow our guidance. Too often people are putting their lives at risk by not wearing a harness or by wearing inappropriate personal protection equipment”

So, to sum up: anyone working in boom type MEWPS, whether self-propelled or static, should wear a full body harness with an adjustable lanyard which is set as short as is reasonably practical.

Users of scissor lifts and other vertical platforms do not generally need to use harnesses. IPAF have stressed that prior to the operation of any mobile elevating work platform, a full risk assessment should be carried out to determine the most appropriate type of harness and lanyard, where and how to tie it off, and the appropriate length of the lanyard.