Sustainability in Action: Aerial Lift Safety Training at GC

When he came to work for Georgia College in 2011, Assistant Director of Environmental Health and Safety and Fire Safety Shea Groebner began touring the college to meet and understand the safety needs of our many departments. In doing so, he observed members of our Theater Department working on aerial lifts. An aerial lift is any vehicle-mounted device which is used to elevate personnel. Within the Theater Department, they are often used to work on overhead lighting and scenery. The aerial lifts present potential slip and fall hazards, which Mr. Groebner decided to mitigate through providing training sessions to our students, faculty, and staff working with the equipment in the Theater Department.

The specific type of aerial lift used by our Theater Department is the scissor lift. This type of lift is portable, is hydraulic-powered and has a platform that can be raised into the air directly above the base. Within the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations, scissor lifts are classified as scaffolds; thus, standard §1926.451 applies to their use. Other types of aerial lifts are regulated under §1926.453. They are regulated differently because the aerial lift requirements (§1926.453) utilize the definition of aerial lifts contained within the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) A92.2-1969 standard. The ANSI standard definition includes extensible boom platforms, aerial ladders, articulating boom platforms, vertical towers, and a combination of those devices.

Mr. Groebner decided that, to fully ensure the safety of our Theater Department members, Georgia College would apply all of the above mentioned regulations to the scissor lifts. Therefore, when operating the lifts, users must observe many safety practices. These practices include ensuring all users are properly trained, inspecting the lift and area prior to use, wearing body harnesses and tie-off ropes, not exceeding weight limits, not exceeding reach limits, and being aware of overhead clearances.

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Fig 1. Theater department members watching safety video.

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Fig 2. Mr. Groebner explaining safety in the black box.

During the fall of 2010, not long before Mr. Groebner began working at Georgia College, a student was unfortunately killed at the University of Notre Dame during a scissor lift accident. The student was employed by the college and was using the lift to film football practice. The student had reportedly not been trained properly and lifted the platform over 39 feet. On that day, wind gusts of 50 mph were reported, and the lift was overturned.

Accidents such as this one remind us that there are hazards associated with the work we do as students, faculty, and staff on a college campus. In remaining vigilant and properly training the members of our community, Mr. Groebner is helping to ensure that these accidents do not occur at Georgia College. It is easy to view sustainability as applying only to the environment. However, within a robust sustainability plan, the triple bottom line accounting framework of people, planet, and profit is included. Ensuring your health and safety is vital to Georgia College’s sustainability mission because we cannot be truly sustainable if we cannot sustain you.

If you are interested in further reading, please visit the links below. For any safety questions you have, contact Shea Groebner (shea.groebner@gcsu.edu; 478-445-8690).

References

  1. Occupational Health and Safety Administration. Safety and Health Regulations for Construction. Scaffolds: General Requirements. CFR 1926.451.
  2. Occupational Health and Safety Administration. Safety and Health Regulations for Construction. Scaffolds: Aerial Lifts. CFR 1926.453.
  3. Occupational Health and Safety Administration. August 1, 2000, Memo from Russell B. Swanson to W. Shaun Rainey. Re: Subpart “L” – Scissor Lifts.
  4. Occupational Health and Safety Administration. OSHA Quick Card. Aerial Lifts: Protect Yourself.
  5. Occupational Health and Safety Administration. Hazard Alert. Student Worker Killed While Filming Football Practice From a Scissor Lift.
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