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Safe use of work platforms (personnel cages) on forklifts

A work platform, personnel cage or man cage is a forklift attachment that enables a person to be safely lifted. It can be used in place of a scissor lift, although it requires two people: one to be in the cage and one to operate the forklift (if you want to work at heights with one person, then you need to do scissor lift training and use a scissor lift; click here to view the advantages of each option).

To install the platform, first check that the platform is in good condition. The gate must latch shut, the rails must be intact, and it must be possible to get the forks in the fork pockets. There will be a loading plate on the platform which states the maximum weight it will support, and how many people can be on the platform at any one time. The platform should also comply with ANSI B56.1 or similar.

Note that anyone operating the forklift must have had forklift training.

Check that the forklift is capable of lifting the cage and any personnel and equipment that will be lifted by looking at the rating plate. To be capable, the forklift must have forks that can be moved into the correct position for the fork pockets, and have a rated capacity of at least the stated figures on the platform, or at least twice the gross weight of the platform and whatever the platform is lifting

If the forklift is capable, the forklift operator puts the forks into the fork pockets all the way until the cage is up against the backrest.

Damage to the right-hand fork pocket is not severe enough to require remediation

The platform is usually secured to the forks using a chain and D ring or chain and pin which goes around the back of the forks or the backrest.

The mast must remain in the vertical position at all times, i.e. there should never be any tilt on the mast as this makes the platform unlevel.

The side shifter must be centred for maximum stability.

The forklift must be on stable, level ground and the platform must never be raised unless it is horizontal.

Before lifting the platform, the forklift must be in neutral with the parking brake applied.

The working area should be coned off, and people should never stand under a raised platform.

The person on the platform is in charge of the lift. The operator must only lift or lower the person when they say. Lifting and lowering should be done carefully.

Before lifting, check above for overhead obstructions such as pipes, cables and awnings. Be aware of potential crushing risks while the platform is being lifted. Anyone on the platform must keep hands and feet inside the platform while it is being lifted or lowered. When elevated, personnel must remain on the platform floor at all times.

The forklift operator’s hands and feet must be clear of the controls while the person on the platform is working. The operator must stay with the forklift for the whole time that a person is lifted.

If minor adjustments are required to the position of the forklift, these can be made while the platform is elevated, but only at a very low speed. It is better to bring the platform down and then move, if possible.

It is recommended that personnel on the platform wear an approved harness that is clipped to a secure point on the platform.

The harness is clipped to the platform at the bottom

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Darren has written over 3000 articles about driving and vehicles, plus almost 500 vehicle reviews and numerous driving courses. Connect with him on LinkedIn by clicking the name above

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