OSHA would welcome US mast climber standard

23 July 2008

Mohammad Ayub, director, office of engineering, OSHA’s construction directorate, speaking at the SIA

Mohammad Ayub, director, office of engineering, OSHA’s construction directorate, speaking at the SIA’s Denver convention.

OSHA, the US government health and safety body, has advised the US mast climbing industry to develop its own standard for the design and use of mast climbing work platforms.

Mohammad Ayub, director of engineering at OSHA's directorate of construction, told the Scaffold Industry Association's (SIA) mast climbing council that OSHA would not write a standard, but that "we would be quite willing to accept [a standard] if it has gone through the correct process."

Speaking at the SIA's annual convention and exposition, taking place this week in Denver, Colorado, Mr Ayub said that other industry sectors had created their own equipment standards - including one for masonry wall construction - that had been accepted by OSHA as representing industry best practice.

Mr Ayub said OSHA would support such a move by the SIA's mast climber council, and said it was concerned that there was no current agreed standard, given that the use of mast climbing work platforms was growing rapidly in the US; "and as time goes by we will see more and more mast climbers used."

At the same meeting in Denver, Mr Ayub told the audience of mast climber manufacturers, rental companies and users that OSHA had determined the most common causes of accidents involving mast climbers.

"Most accidents are due to heavy loading in excess of load tables, a lack of anchorages, [and problems when mast climbers are being dismantled", said Mr Ayub. Other problems identified by OSHA include lack of fall protection when the platform is far away from the face of the building; the lack of adequate safety training; platforms erected not as originally specified; and improper anchorages.

Mr Ayub said one particular problem faced in the US was the tendency for small and medium sized contractors not to use structural engineers; "Contractors tend to make engineering decisions on their own...without the help of a structural engineer."

Mr Ayub's comments came as the International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) published the final version of its safe use guidelines for mast climbing platforms in North America.

Kevin O'Shea, chairman of IPAF's mast climbing platform committee and training manager at Atlanta-based Mastclimbers Inc, told Access International that a major benefit of the guidelines was the definition of training requirements for workers erecting, using and dismantling mast climbers. The 28-page document will soon be available free on the IPAF website (www.ipaf.org).

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