The vast majority of aerial lift accidents are a result of negligence, error, or failure to follow the American National Standards Institute’s and OSHA’s guidelines, resulting in death or severe injuries. Safety violations are the most common cause for aerial lift accidents, which include: lack of fall protection, tip-overs, working near power lines, crushing/pinching, falling objects, and unstable surfaces.
From 1992-1999, 26 construction workers died from aerial lift accidents, while there were 69 electrocutions from improper aerial lift use. During that time, there were also 64 falls, 46 collapses/tip-overs, 23 caught in/caught between, and 5 other deaths related to aerial lifts. With 207 aerial lift deaths from 1992-1999, 70 percent of those were boom lift accidents.
Boom lift accidents are attributed to bucket ejections due to lack of proper harness and safety equipment, as well as collapses/tip-overs from broken equipment. In addition, electrocutions from overhead power lines account for one-third of accidents from not properly maintaining a 10 foot distance. Also, during repositioning of the bucket, workers are often caught in between the bucket or between other objects.
25 percent of aerial lift deaths are due to scissor lift accidents, which typically occur from falls related to being struck by an object and tip-overs from driving with the lift extended. Most all aerial lift accidents can be avoided by keeping buckets clear from overhead objects, such as power lines, utilizing proper harnesses and safety gear, and keeping the lift clear from obstructions, including other workers.
Most accidents occur when safety guidelines are ignored, such as driving a lift while it’s extended, exceeding manufacturer requirements, and operating on uneven surfaces. AerialLiftCertification recommends all aerial lift operators are properly trained, certified, and abide by OSHA and safety regulations to reduce the risk for lift-related deaths and injuries.