What we have learned over the past decades to today

Fall Protection consistently remains the most cited OSHA violation.  In fact, 4 of the top 10 categories of OSHA’s Most Cited Violations are for different aspects of Fall Protection.  From its original enactment over 50 years ago, the Occupational Safety and Health Act empowered OSHA to enact regulations that should have all but eliminated death and injuries by falls from height.  From initial sanctions on employers using the General Duty clause, OSHA has continued defining, refining and enforcing the law to ensure workers are safe at working heights above 6 feet.  Yet in 2020, 805 workers in the US died from falls and over 211 thousand were injured (Source: National Safety Council data).  While virtually ALL of these falls were preventable, the right equipment, training and oversight clearly was not in place to do so.

Equiptec believes it’s time for all employers to take a fresh look at how innovation can shift the dynamic from Fall Protection to Fall Prevention and actually reduce liability AND increase productivity at the same time.

Equiptec got its start in the mid ‘90s in the construction scaffolding business – an industry where fatal falls are SEVEN times higher than other industries.  Many times, workplace falls occur in the ascent or descent phase of the work operation, and traditional Fall Protection devices such as harnesses can prevent death and/or diminish the severity of injury.

As Equiptec got to know the challenges their customers faced every day, it became clear that a different solution to working safely at heights could be imagined.  We began to focus in on a new approach to the problem by developing self-contained Adjustable Height Platforms (AHPs) that are quick to deploy, adjustable in height, and provide stable safe working decks that prevent falls from happening in the first place!  Rather than restraining workers using PPE, a technique that begins with the premise that a fall from heights is inevitable or at least highly probable (just as with safety belts and airbags in automobiles) the team at Equiptec HQ in New Zealand listened to the workers doing the work and came at solving the problem by shifting the emphasis to safe ascent and descent and working more efficiently while at height.

The results were in and with the launch of the original Equiptec VRS Work Platforms, quickly showed staff and management that by focusing on providing stable working platforms at heights of up to 20’ most industrial falls could be prevented instead accepted as a daily risk.  The first industry to adopt this in large numbers was the mining industry where repair and maintenance of massive Haulers, Loaders and other Heavy Equipment posed a real challenge for employers to overcome.  Often, traditional Fall Protection systems were costly to implement and didn’t lend themselves to the kinds of working conditions where the machines were being used.

What workers and management really wanted was a way to minimize equipment downtime while working safely and that’s where AHPs make all the difference – using an expandable stair/step configuration that can be wheeled right up to the site and adjusted to the workpiece in a few minutes or less.  With their patented design and a compliant Handrail/Guardrail safety cage surrounding the worker, Equiptec’s AHPs deliver rugged stable construction to operate in extreme conditions safely year after year – with minimal maintenance.

Not only does this do away with harnesses that require individual fitting, training, regular maintenance and replacement, Equiptec AHPs shift the ‘safe working at heights equation’ from Fall Protection to Fall Prevention, and as with any aspect of Workplace Safety and Health the emphasis on prevention is always preferable.  As any Safety Professional will tell you, under the ‘Hierarchy of Controls’ PPE is the LAST resort, whereas eliminating the risk or hazard through Engineering Controls is always the way to go.

At the same time, Engineering Controls are typically considered a ‘permanent’ solution, such as a guardrail that is fixed in place and cannot be moved or adjusted as the work demands.  There are many examples of these found in modern facilities around the world, but they alone do not solve the problem, especially if the work being done is in a compact area or on a piece of machinery that cannot be permanently isolated, like heavy equipment.  Being both mobile and stable at heights up to 20+ feet, AHPs are a ‘different’ animal altogether and thus Equiptec product ranges are named accordingly – from its smallest line (or ‘species’ – the Squirrel) – to the middle range (Monkey) – to the tallest in the series (Giraffe).  Despite the somewhat fanciful names, these products are serious solutions to a serious and deadly problem.

Adjustable Height Platforms are unique in that they offer an ‘off-the-shelf’ solution to 95% of working at heights problems but they do it in a way that performs like a custom-installed permanent Engineering Control.  This has such benefits that AHPs are now being adopted across many industries including process and manufacturing facilities in the chemical, paper and plastics sectors as well as in the aerospace, maritime and other transportation industries, not to mention military and construction.

Equiptec started its journey to developing the world’s most simple yet elegant and cost-effective solution to safe working at heights by engaging with clients who were at risk every day – and now, 28 years later, we are still going strong as we launch the newest generation of AHP products onto the market, coinciding with the opening of our USA based facility in Schaumburg Illinois.

Why not make a virtual trek around our website and see how Equiptec AHPs help make YOUR workplace safe and free from falls from height.  Schedule a live demo or get in touch for more information.  We look forward to helping your teams work smarter AND safer.

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