Aerial Lifts – Safety Up in the Air
What’s at Stake?
Aerial lifts are used when ordinary ladders or access stairs can’t safely get you close enough to your work. Lifts are powered, mobile equipment, and combine many hazards of vehicles with the dangers of ladders. They are used on construction sites, in warehouses, for landscaping, and in many other types of work. When used incorrectly, these lifts take a toll in deaths and injuries.
What’s the Danger?
The hazards of aerial lifts include, falls and falling objects, tip-overs, being ejected from the lift, collapse of the lift, electric shock, and overhead hazards, such as ceilings and beams..
How to Protect Yourself
6 Tips for Aerial Lift Safety
- The Basics
Only use a lift if you are trained and authorized to do so and only when conditions are safe – i.e. not in high winds, not when lightning is present.
Do a pre-start inspection of the lift and its components and test lift controls before each shift.
- Protect Against Falls
Close access gates or openings and always stand on the floor of the bucket or platform.
Don’t climb on or lean over guardrails or handrails and never use buckets, bricks, ladders, or anything else to gain extra height.
Wear the correct fall arrest system with an approved lanyard. Attach the lanyard to the correct anchor point on the boom or bucket and never attach the lanyard to another point such as a nearby pole or piece of equipment.
Finally, enter and leave the bucket from the ground position, not from another structure.
- Heed the Warnings
Don’t exceed the manufacturer’s safe load limit for the bucket or outriggers.
Take the combined weight of the worker(s), tools and materials into account when calculating the load.
Remember to set the brakes and position outrigger pads on a firm surface.
- Lower the Boom
Don’t drive the lift with the boom/platform raised (unless manufacturer instructions allow).
Traveling with the boom elevated can make it in unstable and workers can be thrown from the lift if traveling over rough or uneven surfaces.
- Watch Out
Treat all overhead power lines and communication cables as energized, and stay at least 10 feet (3 meters) away. Contact the utility company to deenergize the power lines prior to work.
Look out for overhead hazards you could hit your head on or could pin you between the object and the lift.
Check your path before traveling in a lift. Obstructions, uneven surfaces, and other hazards, could make travel dangerous.
- Other Tips
Except in emergencies, do not operate lower level controls unless permission is obtained from the worker(s) in the lift.
Follow all recommended procedures for blocking vehicle and pedestrian traffic.
Wear all required personal protective equipment.
Safety must come first when planning any job involving an aerial lift. By following these simple safety steps, you can avoid injury or death when you work with aerial lifts.