20/06/2006 - 05:00 am

Experts Give Life-Saving Tips for AWP Safety at TABS

Operators of boom type platforms should use full body harnesses with adjustable lanyards, and not safety belts. A safety belt is not a substitute for a harness. It is not a suitable method of catching a falling person, as this action itself can lead to serious back and spinal injuries. This advice, from engineering expert Holger Hebold of SpanSet, was just one example of the presentations given at the inaugural TABS event held on June 13 at the Frankfurt airport conference centre. TABS, short for Tag der Arbeitsbhnensicherheit (platform safety day), was jointly organized by the International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) and the Vertikal Press.

The first-time conference in the German-speaking access industry attracted more than 120 delegates, including manufacturers, rental companies, instructors, and users. The conference also saw a significant number of representatives from safety bodies attending, such as the German Berufsgenossenschaften and the Swiss Suva.

Hubert Gardemann of rental company Gardemann started off the conference by outlining the investigation process after an accident. Employers would do well to have operating procedures and accident prevention measures implemented and documented. Records of machine use should be properly archived. Appropriate training of employees is a key factor, which was the focus of the next presentation by Reinhard Willenbrock of IPAF-Deutschland.

Dr. Klaus Gregor, presiding judge of the Landgericht Wrzburg, kept the audience engaged with a frightening account of the legal pitfalls to watch for with the growing focus on individual responsibility in workplace accidents. Other speakers included Jrgen Gillner of Anton Ruthmann on manufacturers' responsibilities for service and product guarantee, Andreas Eicken of VDBUM on machine inspections, and Dr. Ralf Ebner-Hipp of Wumag Elevant on the proper use of stabilisers and outriggers.

The event ended with a demonstration, at rental company Schmidt in Neu-Isenburg, of a prototype of Thomas Sawitzky's new invention: a parachute system designed, on the one hand, as a harness to protect against accidental exit from a platform, and on the other hand, to enable an alternative form of escape from a platform in case of a tip over.

“We were very happy with the good turnout and the high quality of the presentations,” said Tim Whiteman, managing director of IPAF. “Responses from the delegates were positive, which gives us a strong incentive to make TABS an annual event aimed at promoting safety in the German-speaking powered access world. I am sure that the delegates took home valuable information on platform use that will save lives.”

For more information on the use of harnesses, see IPAF's technical guidance note.

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