Follow regulations, avoid safety hazards

1 Feb 2007 | Lance Cpl. Patrick M. Fleischman

The operational tempo necessary for the Global War on Terrorism means any lives lost take away valuable resources needed to accomplish the mission, so it is important that Marines and sailors are aware of potential safety hazards while on the job.

Marine Corps Center for Lessons Learned, an organization which collects observations from units currently engaged in operations throughout the world, spotlighted the aerial lift and fall prevention in their newsletter this month due to the recent fatality aboard a US Naval base of a worker performing maintenance to the outside of a building.

“There is no doubt as to the exhausting amount of work our Marines and sailors are doing in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Col. Monte Dunard, director of MCCLL. “These young Marines and Sailors are working in conditions more difficult than what is encountered at a typical job site in the states. When considering the additional hazards in theater, it is a testimony to their proficiency and professionalism that they are able to safely accomplish the missions they are presented.”

It is easy to become complacent during routine operations, refresher training on safety practices and potential hazards are necessary to deter bad habits and to reinforce basic operating procedures, according to the MCCLL ‘Safety Corner’ publication.

Combating these issues the Marine Corps Occupational Safety and Health Programs dictates standards and regulations to protect the lives of Marines and civilians who work for the Marine Corps. Some of the standards cover situations such as fall protection, lockout-tag out, electrical safety and powered industrial trucks have set standards that have helped to save lives and preserve equipment, said Jeff Myers, occupational safety and health program manger for Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.

MCCLL also offered advice while using an aerial lift as well as the people working around these types of equipment.

Lifts are very susceptible to tip-over’s, which can be caused by not using or incorrect use of outriggers the overloading or misapplication of the equipment, hitting obstacles on the ground or in the air such as beams, tree limbs or electrical wires. All of these hazards can lead to serious injury and even in some cases – death.

The prevention of a possible tip-over by following some simple tips:
• Do not exceed manufacturer rated load capacity limits
• Do not travel to job location with lift in elevated position
• Set up proper work zone protection when working near traffic
• Do not raise platform on uneven or soft surfaces
• Do not raise platform in windy or gusty conditions
• Avoid excessive horizontal forces when working on elevated scissor lifts
• Check with your unit safety officer or installation safety office for training on proper use of aerial lifts and fall protection equipment.

“These pieces of equipment move fast and the operators can sometimes put too much faith in the equipments ability. Everyone should practices some serious situational awareness,” said Jeff Myers, occupational safety and health program manger for Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.

Work assist vehicles, usually a small peace of equipment used to lift a person and a limited amount of equipment, are commonly used aboard Camp Lejeune, and are very susceptible to a tip-over and problems with maintenance due to the individual ownership of the lifts by the unit, said Myers.

Any lift however large or small with a person using it should employ fall protection equipment.

“Working in a lift can cause situations where a person can over extend their reach, lose their balance and fall out of the basket. These fall protection devices have saved countless lives through their use,” said Myers.

Fall protection or fall arrest equipment brakes down into three parts;  the tie-off point on the lift, connecting device to the anchorage, which is responsible for the shock absorption of the fall, and the body wear, that is the personal protective equipment worn by the worker, said Myers.

“Constant inspection of this equipment and proper use is critical for it’s success in preventing a injury during a fall. Any time this equipment is used to prevent a fall it should be taken out of service and replaced,” said Myers.

The safety of the operator is just as important as the people on the ground.

Marine Corps Center for Lessons Learned recommends that personnel on the ground should watch aerial workers to ensure they avoid overhead obstructions could crush them or cause injury.

Never attempt to operate an aerial lift unless you have been trained and authorized to do so and everyone should check the area in which aerial lift will be used to ensure the ground is level and free of holes, drop-offs, bumps, and overhead obstructions and overhead power lines.

“People on the ground are another set of eyes for the operator and can help prevent miss-haps,” concluded Myers

For more information about aerial lift and fall prevention as well as more information about Marine Corps operational experiences, exercises, and supporting activities visit [government issued common access card required for login].