MCWP use and safety at forefront of OSHA meeting

By Lindsey Anderson11 January 2011

Kevin O’Shea works for Mastclimbers Llc in Atlanta, GA.

Kevin O’Shea works for Mastclimbers Llc in Atlanta, GA.

OSHA's Advisory Committee for Construction Safety and Health (ACCSH) met in Washington DC in December 2010, and received a report on the work that has been done by the mast climber (mcwp) industry in the last three years, presented by Kevin O'Shea of Mastclimbers LLC in Atlanta, chairman of IPAF's International Mast Climber Committee and co-chair of Scaffold Industry Association's Mast Climber Council.

O'Shea last addressed the Committee in December 2007, when, at that time, there was a focus on the product due to a number of fatalities. In 2007 O'Shea had highlighted the need for a number of industry initiatives, primarily focusing on the revision of the ANSI A92.9 design standard for the product, the necessity for industry-wide safe use guidance and demand for range of comprehensive training courses for all levels of expertise and responsibility concerned with the management, installation and use of the product. Additionally, O'Shea also identified the need to distribute best practice documents and guidance nationally.

On December 9, 2010, O'Shea found himself back in front of the ACCSH Committee to provide them with an update on these key issues. Supported by senior members of the International Powered Access Federation (IPAF), Scaffold Industry Association (SIA), and management from EZ Scaffold, a US manufacturer of mast climbing work platforms, O'Shea detailed the progress the industry has made since 2007.

"The industry has been extremely focused and has worked to provide a coordinated, comprehensive response to the needs of users, installers, owners and rental companies," O'Shea said. "The single most important aspect of this progress is the agreement between SIA and IPAF to work together on MCWP training, accreditation and coordination of standards and best practice. Through SIA's secretariat of the ANSI 92 group of standards we have a revised A92.9 mcwp design standard due for release in early 2011. SIA and IPAF's agreement in the US means that IPAF's internationally recognized training courses for the product, and its Powered Access License (the PAL card), are now being offered by IPAF training centers and SIA's Accredited Training Institutes. Additionally, IPAF's American Safe Use Guidelines for MCWP's, a comprehensive guide for the management, installation and use of the product, has been reviewed and endorsed by the SIA. This document is becoming extremely important."

Earlier in the meeting the Center for Protection of Workers Rights (CPWR) presented its white paper on MCWP use in the US, highlighting an analysis of accidents on MCWPs in the last 10 years in the US; areas of hazard identified through the supply chain; and recommendations on minimum training levels.

O'Shea explained the relationship between the white paper and the industry initiatives. "The American Safe Use Guidelines sets out a comprehensive strategy for the abatement of the hazards identified in the white paper and in other similar documents like general contractor in-house generated rules, and sets out levels of expertise which the industry requires for true competency at each level," he said. "It gives advice on planning, training, inspection, installation, methodology, hazard assessment and hand-over. The document is a blueprint for safe management of MCWPs from enquiry to demobilization. Along with the revised ANSI standard, our industry now has comprehensive design standards, best practice advice and quality training courses."

Also discussed was the alliance between OSHA and SIA, and the products that are emanating, or are in process, from this agreement.

"There is no point in the industry producing all of this work if we don't get it into the hands of those who need it most, like the installer, the rental company manager, or the operator of the platform," O'Shea said. "The alliance between OSHA and SIA is vital in this outreach effort. The first document to be produced "The Alliance MCWP Safety Tips" is essential free advice, and further information on the assessment of ground conditions, and safe methods of tying to the structure are currently moving through the review process. We're also working on an MCWP Awareness Course for regulators, which has been specifically designed for webinar use, to increase the opportunity to get to as many people as possible."

The ACCSH committee was very enthusiastic about the industry's response to its own identified need for improvement, and put forward a motion to set up a work group for MCWPs.

"The MCWP industry stepped up to plate in 2007, and a tremendous amount of hard work over three years has created an impressive body of work which will begin to positively impact our industry in 2011," O'Shea said. "It's the industry's responsibility to address its own issues, and we have created a path which other aspects of the powered access industry could follow. We're a long way from being finished, and, realistically our work never really finishes, but we're miles ahead of where we were three years ago, and we're miles ahead of other aspects of the powered access industry, and it's due to the work of IPAF, SIA, the OSHA Alliance program and the amazing amount of industry expertise and commitment which exists, largely unrecognized, in this country."

O'Shea also talked about Mastclimbers LLC, in Atlanta, where they have introduced the "US Safe Use Guidelines" into their business, and how it has been a positive influence in almost every aspect of what they do.

"We would encourage all owners, end users and rental companies to implement all aspects of the guidelines as a comprehensive way to abate hazards, control risk, improve the performance and reliability of their equipment, and the safety of their employees," O'Shea said. "In fact we now find ourselves with enquiries from other companies asking us to provide training and implementation."

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