Shop floor electrical work on stacked pallets

Working on a stack of pallets lifted up by a small forkliftWhat’s wrong with this picture? It’s just a guy up in the air fixing some electrics. He looks safe enough, sitting on a neat stack of pallets.

Here’s what’s wrong…

  1. No way of stopping him falling off the pallets. All he needs is a lapse in concentration, a shock from what he’s fixing, or a bad surprise and he can be falling off the side and on to a hard concrete floor or on to the edge of the shopping trolly below him.
  2. No fall protection – a short lanyard inside the proper equipment can be enough to stop you falling.
  3. No hard hat – proper head protection is very useful when you’re working at height as you can be closer to beams and lights than you expect. Having one knock against your hard hat rather than hit you in the head can be the difference between being fine and falling off by mistake.

As we can’t see how he got up there it’s hard to know if he climbed up or was lifted up by someone else. Given his posture I’d put a firm guess on him having climbed up after raising the pallets, which would be another stupid risk.

Hopefully he has at least put some cones or other blocking items out around his work site so no customers will wander underneath the raised forks, or knock against the forklift controls.

What he should be using

A forklift cage

Small work cage suitable to be lifted by a forklift

A forklift cage would be an excellent addition to this company’s equipment and offer a safe way for this worker to be lifted up and work in safety. The forks slide in to channels which keep the cage from being able to tip over, and the railings give you a good idea of the limits of your work space without letting you easily drop out of it.

Picture source: Contact

Or: Mobile safety steps

Mobile steps on wheels with railings

Alternatively, the shop I used to work in had mobile safety steps to let us reach the high racking, signage and lights safely. If this store has a set and they went high enough, it would be a good alternative to sitting on pallets, although as you can step back on to the steps part, they aren’t as safe as a cage to work from.

Picture source: BigDug

Or: Scissor lift

Scissor lift holding man working on lights

A scissor lift gives a very safe way to work at height in these circumstances – very stable and it only takes up the same amount of floor space as your work area. Again, railings keep you within the machine easily, it can carry plenty of tools, and with a lot of models you can move them around while its elevated if you need to make small adjustments to where you need to reach to.

Picture source: Facelift Access Hire

What is best?

On a lot of sites, a scissor lift should be your first choice for a safe way to work at height on things like lighting and rigging, but as this is a store they might not have enough need to pay for a scissor lift. Renting one would make sense if they have several small jobs that can be batched together. However if they need to do this sort of work consistently and quickly when lights have broken, a forklift cage is a practical solution as they are quite affordable and take advantage of existing equipment. Also, make sure if your workers are going up in the air they have a damned hard hat on, whether they’re in a cage or not.

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