The use of a crane suspended personnel platform is prohibited unless there is no safer, practical, or conventional means of access to an elevated work area. Ladders, scaffolds, stairways, aerial lifts and personnel hoists must be considered before using a personnel platform. If these options are more hazardous or not possible due to structural design or work site conditions, the hoisting of personnel from a crane is permitted.
A written policy and procedure is recommended to guide your employees through the requirements of Federal OSHA Regulation 29 CFR 1926.550.
Applicable crane setup and lifting operation requirements must be complied with when suspending personnel from a crane. The total weight of the load to be lifted must not exceed 50% of the crane's load chart capacity. This must be considered when sizing the crane needed to safely access an elevated work site.
Other requirements include a positive locking type safety latch on the crane hook, a boom angle indicator readily visible to the operator, a system that regulates the lowering rate of speed of the hoist mechanism and a positive reacting automatic, anti-two blocking system.
You also must perform a trial lift with the unoccupied platform immediately prior to personnel entering the basket or platform. Proof testing the personnel platform and rigging must be performed at 125% of the personnel platform's rating capacity by holding the suspended load in position for five minutes. The proof test may be done concurrently with the trial lift. Be sure to include the intended load, people, tools and equipment, weight of the basket or platform, and rigging sling, block, etc. Also consider the weights necessary to perform the test. Are they available?
“ Personnel suspended from platforms or baskets must understand and use hand signals, or use continuous radio communication.”
A competent person must inspect the crane, the suspension of the platform or basket, and rigging before each use and after each proof test.
Personnel suspended from platforms or baskets must understand and use hand signals, or use continuous radio communication. They must also conduct a pre-lift meeting with the crane operator and people responsible for the task to be performed. The meeting should be held prior to the trial lift and at each new work location. The pre-lift meeting should include the use of taglines to control the platform. Taglines should not be used if their use creates an unsafe condition.
Topics for discussion should include the securing of the basket to the structure when personnel are entering and exiting the platform as well as the intended use of the basket, tools and materials that are necessary to perform the task. Remember the hoisting of tools, equipment and materials alone are prohibited. Also, personal protective equipment including fall prevention/protection must be addressed. Training should be conducted in the proper tie-off procedure to a structural member inside the basket or the lower load block/overhaul ball.
Requirements for work over water are different from over land. Personnel do not tie-off, and approved US Coast Guard life preservers, life buoys and a lifeboat capable of reaching submerged personnel platform/basket in an emergency are required. Life buoys are required to have 90 feet of line and must be provided on the ground every 200 feet.
The platform or basket must be structurally sound, have inboard guard rails, a locking gate that does not swing outward, headroom, overhead protection when hazards exist, and smooth surfaces preventing employee injury from lacerations or punctures. Conspicuously and permanently marked on the platform or basket must be its weight and rated safe working load. Only qualified welders and material types specified in the design shall be designated to build or repair personnel platforms.
The rigging should connect each bridle leg to a master link of shackle in such a manner that the load stays evenly divided. All wire rope, shackles, rings, or other hardware must be capable of support without failure five times the maximum intended load applied or transmitted to each component. Rotation resistant rope requires 10 times the maximum intended load.
Training your employees and monitoring the implementation of your program will provide a safe working environment your employees deserve.