Liebherr-Werk Nenzing in Austria is fitting handrails as standard on top of crawler cranes delivered to US customers. The idea is to reduce the risk of operatives falling while climbing over the crane.
Crane operators and maintenance technicians are periodically required to clamber over the top of cranes, to access the engine or to inspect winches, ropes and other components. As it is not always practical to connect a harness to a tie-off point, the addition of handrails is designed to improve worker safety by helping to prevent falls, says the company.
Handrails were previously an option on Liebherr cranes but demand for them has risen in line with mounting concern about the issue of safe working at height in the US construction industry. It is an OSHA requirement that fall protection measures are adopted in the construction industry for any work at a height of six feet (2 m) or more.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, falls from height accounted for 448 fatalities in the US construction industry in 2007 - 38% of the industry's total fatal accidents. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also reports that 74 people died at work in 2006 as a result of falling from a stationary vehicle. The number of non-fatal accidents is not known as not all accidents are reported.