Tighter lifting laws will get more powered access into Switzerland

By Maria Hadlow03 December 2008

From January 1 2009 Switzerland is tightening up the law which allows personnel to work at height by being lifted in a basket by a forklift truck. The practice can still continue but the circumstances in which it will be allowed have been greatly restricted.

Personnel can only be lifted using the forklift method six times a year on any one site, they must not be working for longer than 2 hours and the floor of the basket must not be lifted over 5m. Only work inside buildings will be permitted, this can be occasional activities such as changing light bulbs but must not be part of a company's regular activities.

Prohibited work includes: assembly of buildings and building site work; tree maintenance; cleaning of buildings and equipment; renovation and expansion of buildings and equipment and any other work occurring at regular intervals such as preparation of orders and installation of billboards.

The trucks which are allowed to lift a personnel basket must have a minimum rated load of 1500 kg; there must be two independent lifting mechanisms (for example two chains) and safety devices installed in case the hydraulic piping ruptures. The vehicle must also have a log of maintenance carried out by a specialist.

The forklift truck lifting method cannot be used where it would be "possible and reasonable" to install an access platform nor where there is tilted ground or where the machine is less than 2m away from a non-protected edge such as an inspection pit or loading ramp. Trucks must be kept away from power lines and from potential collisions with other machines such as overhead cranes. If working near shelves or in narrow alleys the truck must have 0.5m leeway on all sides.

The basket itself with load must not exceed 20% of the rated load of the lifting vehicle and must be manufactured to the Swiss SUVA regulations.

Other restrictions apply and a detailed document outlining them will soon be available from IPAF. Manufacturers and distributors in Switzerland are optimistic that these new regulations will greatly increase the penetration of powered access platforms in the Swiss market.

Damian Schuler, CEO of Schuler & Schloemmer, an UpRight distributor in Switzerland said, "Working at Height regulations in Switzerland will be much more in line with the rest of the EU. We hope this change in the law will treble or quadruple the number of aerial lifts in the country over the coming years."

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