Aerial Lifts – Is Your Safety Up or Down?

Aerial lifts include scissor lifts, articulating booms, bucket trucks, and cherry pickers. Many workers are killed or seriously injured because:

  • Employees were not wearing a harness and fell out of the equipment.
  • They were in the equipment when it tipped over and rode it to the ground.
  • They were operating in close proximity to overhead lines and got electrocuted when the equipment touched a power line or electrical wires.
  • Employees were crushed or struck by the equipment and another object.

Many incidents like these can be prevented with proper Aerial Work Platform Operator training. Training must include a review of the requirements under OSHA for Aerial Work Platforms, adherence to the manufacturers guidelines for operation, training on the inspection / care / maintenance of the machine, and practical skills on operating the lift. Training of all operators is required and many locations have a three-year expiration on the training to ensure the Operator is both qualified and certified.

Operators are required to perform a manufacturers approved pre-operation inspection of the lift, before use, to include basic operation of all controls, including emergency controls. Operators should also inspect the anticipated work area looking for holes, soft areas, drop-offs, utilities, overhead obstructions, and other areas of concern. All operational instructions must be clear and legible for visual operation. Operation is to follow the manufacturers’ requirements and OSHA standards. Lifts are to be operated within their operational weight requirements posted and understand that the calculated weight includes personnel, tools, equipment, and materials in the work basket or platform.

Employees working from the platform are not permitted to stand on any item to increase their working height, including the handrail. All gates, chains, or slides must
be secured on the work platform to fully enclose the work basket. Lifts should not be moved while elevated except in turtle crawl mode and a better practice is to lower the lift before moving. Operators must observe both ground hazards and overhead hazards during movement. Workers are required to be tied off at all times in an articulated boom lift and some scissors lifts require tie off when the project, employer, or manufacturer requires such. Workers are never permitted to tie off to anything outside of the basket or work platform and must attach lanyards only to manufacturer approved anchor points.

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