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Forklifts are not toys, and one area in which the OSHA is most stringent concerns hoisting operators using the lift truck. The dangers of lifting operators are pretty obvious—major injury or even death can easily result. It is therefore incumbent on forklift operators to avoid reckless behavior and keep personnel on the floor or in the lift truck whenever possible. However, it is also true that there are scenarios in which lifting personnel and/or using a man basket is unavoidable. For this reason, here we offer an overview of how lifting devices such as the man basket should be used.
What the rules say
In the OSHA Title 29 Code of Federal Regulations, the regulations clearly state that lifting personnel should be kept at a strict minimum. In particular, a man basket should only be implemented in the rare scenario that safer access to elevated areas is not available. Admittedly, this phrasing is pretty vague since the notion of ‘safer access’ is open to interpretation. In general, we can understand it to mean that the man basket should not be used unless a ladder or scaffold is unsafe or unavailable (it is also necessary to remember that ladders and scaffolds carry their own safety concerns and should be used with caution.)
How should you use a man basket?
If you find that it is necessary to use a man basket, there is a specific safety protocol that must be followed. First of all, the cranes or derricks that house the man basket absolutely must rest on an even surface. Also, the operator must be at the controls and should not leave the vehicle while someone is in the man basket. Before lifting someone in a man basket, a meeting should be conducted with everyone involved so that the procedure is clear and agreed-upon. While hoisting someone in the man basket, the individual who is elevated should have fall protection. One of the most common forms of fall protection is a lanyard, although if the man basket is not elevated very high, lanyards can be too long. In order to protect everyone involved, conduct trial lifts, which will ensure that the man basket can in fact support the weight of the individual lifted in it. Also, always bear in mind that the man basket absolutely should never be used to hoist anything other than personnel—tools and other equipment should not be stored inside the man basket at any time.
Lifting personnel is undeniably scary. Still, if you need to use a man basket, leave nothing to chance by supplying fall protection and conducting trial runs.