Kevin O’Shea, chairman of IPAF’s International Mast Climbing Work Platform Committee, presented mastclimber safety before OSHA’s Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health earlier this month. O’Shea was invited to speak in response to OSHA’s desire to see a move toward industry best practice and regulation following a series of accidents involving mainly MCWPs and cranes.

During his presentation, O’Shea, who is with Mastclimbers LLC in Atlanta, discussed the U.S. market size for MCWPs, the purpose of the International Powered Access Federation and the programs offered by IPAF to increase safety awareness and worksite performance.
Among the facts and figures O’Shea presented about the industry:

  • An average of 12,600 people use MCWPs each day.
  • More than 2.5 million working hours are put into the erection and dismantling of MCWPs each year.
  • There are about 7 to 8 near misses on MCWPs each working day in the U.S.
  • About 4,200 units operate each day in the U.S.

O’Shea also raised some areas of concern based on worksite observations:

  • Insubstantial planking on the front edge of the platform causing either a trip or fall hazard,
  • Inadequate anchor installation and testing,
  • Anchors over or under-tightened,
  • Ties temporarily removed and inadequately re-instated during use,
  • Inadequately trained and assessed installers,
  • Inadequately trained and assessed users.

O’Shea also introduced the IPAF Guidelines for the Safe Use of Mast Climbing Work Platforms: US Edition 2008. The document was recently released by IPAF and provides comprehensive guidance and advice for MCWP users, installers, owners and rental companies. It also details the level of experience, education and skills verification required for those involved in the supply and use of the product.

O’Shea said of the opportunity to speak before the ACCSH: “This is a huge step forward for IPAF and it is the most senior recognition of IPAF’s expertise and breadth of representation within the industry in the United States. IPAF has worked tirelessly on behalf of its members and the industry in general to raise standards and improve the performance of powered access worldwide. US manufacturers and major rental companies in the powered access business are beginning to see just how valuable IPAF membership will be as the industry progresses through its next phase of development.”

The committee members were interested in the PAL Card (Powered Access Licensed-Registration Card), and the level and depth of the training and assessment which IPAF requires before issuing the card. IPAF training for the use of aerial work platforms and mast climbing work platforms is managed in the US by its North American subsidiary, Aerial Work Platform Training. Successful trainees are awarded the PAL Card, which is valid for five years. The PAL Card is recognized in many countries and is, for example, accepted by the U.S.-based Scaffold Industry Association as proof of training.