OHS Code Explanation Guide

Published Date: July 01, 2009
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Part 23 Scaffolds and Temporary Work Platforms

Section 349 Fork-mounted work platforms

Subsection 349(1)

This section applies to a cage or work platform mounted on the forks of powered mobile equipment and intended to only support material. The cage or work platform must be securely attached to the lifting carriage or forks of the powered mobile equipment. Dong so prevents the cage or platform from accidentally moving laterally or vertically and prevents the powered mobile equipment from tipping.

Subsection 349(2)

Because the work platform is intended to support a worker, it must meet a higher standard of design and construction than is required by subsection 349(1) for a platform intended to only support material. This means that the work platform must be commercially manufactured or designed and certified by a professional engineer if not commercially manufactured. This is the same standard of safety that applies to suspended man baskets (see subsection 350(1)), a type of work platform that similarly supports workers at a height above ground level.

The work platform must be equipped with guardrails and toe boards. Guardrails act as a type of fall protection and the toe boards prevent small objects from falling off the platform.

The platform must be equipped with a screen or similar barrier that guards any drive mechanism accessible to a worker while on the work platform. This screen or barrier is intended to protect a worker on the platform from contact with moving parts associated with the lifting or lowering mechanism.

For more information
ASME Standard B56.1-2000, Safety Standard for Low Lift and High Lift Trucks. Clause 7.36 presents design specifications for elevating work platforms

The fall protection approach to be followed when using a fork-mounted work platform depends on the type of forklift being used. The two situations normally encountered are summarized as follows

Forklift truck with vertical mast

When a work platform is attached to a forklift truck having a vertical mast and the platform only moves up and down, then the platform’s guardrail system provides worker protection against falls. However, if a portion of the guardrail system is absent or has to be removed while in an elevated position and its absence exposes the worker to an edge from which the worker could fall, then additional safety measures must be taken. Specifically, the worker must use either a travel restraint or personal fall arrest system. Because of the (usually) limited clearance distance below the work platform, a travel restraint system consisting of a self retracting lanyard and full body harness is preferred.

Forklift truck with telescopic mast

In a study of deaths involving aerial work platforms used in the U.S. construction industry between 1992 and 1999, it was determined that boom-supported work platforms accounted for almost 70 percent of deaths involving aerial work platforms.

The study reported that

(a) half of all falls from boom-supported work platforms involved being ejected from the bucket or platform after being struck by vehicles, cranes, or crane loads, or by falling objects, or when the work platform suddenly jerked, and
(b) two-thirds of the deaths from collapses/tipovers of boom supported work platforms occurred when the bucket cable or boom broke or the bucket fell.

Almost one-third of the deaths were due to tipovers.

Experience in Alberta about ejections has resulted in subsection 141(1) explicitly requiring that workers use a personal fall arrest system when working from a telescopic forklift truck work platform. The worker’s lanyard must be connected to an engineered anchor point. The worker’s lanyard must, if reasonably practicable, be short enough to prevent the worker from being ejected from the work platform yet be long enough to allow the worker to perform his or her work. Readers are referred to the explanation to section 141 of the OHS Code for additional information.

Subsection 349(3)

A worker working from an elevated fork-mounted work platform relies on the equipment operator to position the worker up and down. The operator must not leave the controls while a worker is on the elevated work platform.

Subsection 349(4)

No one is permitted to remain on a fork-mounted work platform while the powered mobile equipment to which it is attached is being driven. The platform is not designed to protect a worker from injury if the powered mobile equipment stops or starts suddenly, or in the event of a collision or upset.

Commentary about “commercially manufactured”

In general, a commercially manufactured product has the following qualities

(a) it is designed and built to some standard or generally accepted engineering principles that make it safe for use;
(b) it is designed and built by person(s) with the skill or competence to be able to make the product safe;
(c) it is produced with the intention of being generally available to anyone who wants to buy it – normally there is an exchange of money;
(d) it is normally supported by the manufacturer with a warranty, guarantee, and product support; and
(e) liability and safety issues related to its use have been addressed by the manufacturer.

It is implied by the OHS Code, that a product that is “commercially manufactured” is “safe” because it has been produced by a “manufacturer” that has the skills and competencies to do so.

Criterion (a) refers to the product being designed and built to some “generally accepted engineering principles”. It is expected that a “manufacturer” is able to provide drawings or sketches of the product that include an assessment of the product’s strength, load-bearing capacity, etc. Further, criterion (d) mentions “product support”. This may include, among other elements, the availability of written manufacturer specifications.