When Should Safety Harnesses be worn in MEWPs?

Safety harnesses and lanyards are strongly recommended to be worn in boom-type platforms. In recent years, there have been ongoing debates within the industry, highlighting that there are some organisations who are using fall restraint equipment in scissor lifts.

There are risks that are created by using a harness and lanyard in a vertical platform e.g. reduced visibility for manoeuvring. It’s important for operators to be aware of when a harness and lanyard imposes more of a risk, than protection.


Operators need to have full visibility when manoeuvring in a scissor lift. Wearing a safety harness and lanyard in a scissor lift restricts the mobility of the operator as the lanyard is attached to a fixed anchor point and the platform is always over the chassis, making it unachievable to gain full visibility when operating the machine. This is not the case in boom-type machines as the platform is outside the chassis.

Guardrails act as primary protection in scissor lifts. Operators should avoid overreaching or leaning out of the basket as this will increase the chances of falling at height.

Risk assessments will allow operators to identify the risks, and whether a fall restraint harness is required in a scissor lift.

The Catapult Effect

When stored energy, or an impact to the MEWPs structure on the boom-type platform causes the boom to flex, it creates the catapult effect. The further the platform is extended, the greater the whiplash effect. In a vertical lift, the risk of catapulting does not exist which is why some manufacturers do not install anchor points to the platform. As a result, it is strongly recommended that operators wear a safety harness and lanyard in all boom-type platforms.


Safety harness training provides workers with the skills and knowledge that is needed to implement good working practice whilst using the equipment.

As an IPAF training centre, we can deliver fully accredited IPAF approved safety harness training which can be completed remotely as e-learning, or instructor led at our training centre or your own site. The IPAF Harness Awareness (HA) course is aimed at safety professionals, managers and supervisors who are responsible for creating safe systems at work. Upon completion of the course, delegates will have a complete understanding and will have everything they need to supply the right equipment and systems to their teams.

For more information, contact us today and one of their experienced team of training co-ordinators will be more than happy to help – 01246 386900.

We are proud to be supporting No Falls Week, a campaign from the No Falls Foundation, taking place 13-17 May 2024, dedicated to promoting safe working at height.

Working at Height Training Courses

IPAF Static Platforms (1a and 1b)
IPAF Mobile Platforms (3a and 3b)
IPAF Push Around Vertical
IPAF MEWPS for Managers
IPAF Safety Harness (HA, HU)
IPAF Site Assessment
PASMA Towers for Users
PASMA Low Level Access
PASMA Combined
PASMA Towers on Stairs
PASMA Working at Height (Novice)
Working Safely at Height Awareness
Bi-Line Training
Fall Arrest Training

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