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Aerial Lift Safety Checklist

Aerial Lift Safety Checklist

One of the top causes of injuries and fatalities on construction worksites in the U.S. is aerial lifts. They account for many falls, electrocutions, and crushed-by accidents every year, and must be operated with the utmost care and caution to prevent these unfortunate events. Safety protocols and practices have been developed to help aerial lift workers avoid hazards where they see them and to protect their lives on the job. From the pre-inspection prior to starting up the aerial lift to the tools and equipment to use to your actions during work, safety is always the most important factor and should be the guide. We’ve put together a comprehensive aerial lift safety checklist to help you stay safe on the job, remain compliant with OSHA standards, and prevent accidents. 

Pre-Start Inspection

Before you can begin work with the aerial lift, operators need to inspect the equipment to make sure there are no damaged or faulty parts that can cause an unsafe situation while working. The pre-start inspection covers each component of an aerial lift to ensure the safety of the machine and is completed before each work shift. The pre-start inspection is broken up into two main sections: the vehicle components and the lift components.

aerial lift safety checklist - pre-start guide

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Vehicle Components:

  • – Proper fluid levels, including the oil, hydraulic, fuel, and coolant
  • – Any fluid leaks
  • – Wheels and tires
  • – Battery and charger
  • – Lower-level controls
  • – Warning devices including the horns, gauges, lights, and backup alarms
  • – Steering and brakes


Lift Components:

  • – Operating and emergency controls
  • – Personal protection devices
  • – Air, hydraulic, pneumatic, fuel, and electrical systems
  • – Fiberglass and other insulating components
  • – Missing or unreadable charts, warnings, or instructional markings
  • – Mechanical fasteners and locking pins
  • – Outriggers, stabilizers and other structures
  • – Loose or missing parts
  • – Guardrail systems

It’s important to postpone work on the aerial lift if any of these components are damaged or malfunctioned to prevent collapses from structural failures. 


Surrounding Environment Assessment

In addition to the actual machinery, the work environment is often a cause for aerial lift accidents. Poor weather conditions like high winds can cause fatal tip overs. Electrocutions and entanglement accidents can occur from not properly inspecting the work zone and following an aerial lift safety checklist. If any of the following hazards are found, action must be taken to remove the hazard and ensure a safe work zone before work can begin:

  • – Drop offs, holes, or unstable surfaces
  • – Inadequate ceiling heights
  • – Slopes, ditches, and bumps on the ground
  • – Debris and other floor obstructions
  • – Electrical power lines and cables
  • – Overhead obstructions
  • – High winds and severe weather like heavy rain and ice
  • – Other workers in close proximity to the work area 


Proper Fall Protection

OSHA requires that all aerial lift workers have proper fall protection equipment and training prior to working with aerial lifts. Fall protection describes the tools used to arrest falls from heights, restrict movement to prevent falls, and to keep workers from getting injured or worse during an accident. Before operating an aerial lift, make sure workers have the following safety equipment and have checked for the following:

  • – Operators have body harnesses or restraining belts and lanyards that are attached to a point on the boom or bucket
  • – Lanyards are not belted off to adjacent structures or poles
  • – All access gates or openings are closed
  • – Workers stand firmly on the bucket floor or platform
  • – There is no climbing or leaning on or over the guardrails
  • – There are no planks, ladders, or other devices in the working position 


Safe Operational Practices

Certain operational practices must be avoided to prevent accidents.

dos and don'ts of operating an aerial lift

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What NOT to do when operating an aerial lift:

  • – Do not exceed the load capacity limits, taking into account the combined weight of the workers and tools
  • – Do not use the aerial lift as a crane
  • – Do not carry objects larger than the platform
  • – Do not drive with the lift platform raised
  • – Do not operate the lower level controls unless permission is given from the workers in the bucket or platform
  • – Do not exceed vertical or horizontal limits
  • – Do not operate the aerial lift in high winds
  • – Do not override the hydraulic, mechanical, or electrical safety devices 


Overhead Protection and Stability

Electrocutions, crushed-by, and entanglement accidents can all occur when a worker standing in the bucket or on the platform comes into contact with an overhead obstruction. When placed on an unstable surface or when an aerial lift comes into contact with an overhead object, tip overs can occur causing serious accidents. Follow this aerial lift safety checklist for overhead protection and stabilizing the aerial lift:

  • – Assume all electrical wires are live
  • – Stay at least ten feet away from all power lines and cables
  • – De-energize power lines in the work area
  • – Be aware of overhead clearances and objects
  • – Avoid positioning the aerial lift between overhead obstructions
  • – Set outriggers on pads or a level surface, and set brakes
  • – Use wheel chocks on sloped surfaces
  • – Set up work zone warnings like cones and signs 


Aerial Lift Training and Retraining

All of these safety practices and tools are vitally important for preventing aerial lift accidents. But the number one method for accident prevention is ensuring all workers are trained and certified. You see, you can have harnesses, lanyards, cones, lights, and can ensure a stable work zone, but if operators are not trained in the safe operation of aerial lifts or how to recognize hazards, accidents can still occur. As an employee, you can protect your life with aerial lift training. And as an employer, you can benefit from more productive workers, and as a result, increase your bottom line. Look to for your online aerial lift certification. Our program teaches operators everything they need to operate aerial lifts safely, perform inspections, understand fall protection, and all of the other components outlined in this aerial lift safety checklist. Our program is self-paced but takes only about one hour to complete on average. Costing only $299 for the entire training kit, you won’t find a more affordable or convenient OSHA-compliant program. Refresher training is another OSHA requirement for operators, and re-certifications are always free with us. Create an account and complete aerial lift certification today!


Learn more about using aerial lifts safely with these helpful blog posts:

Every great power has its limits, and aerial lifts are no exception. Though powerful, aerial lifts can topple to the ground with just a strong gust of wind. Poor weather is one of the top causes of aerial lift accidents that lead to injuries and deaths. This is especially true for strong winds. As large as aerial lifts are, heavy winds have the power to sway and topple them over, putting operators and any nearby workers in serious danger. In fact, aerial lift tip overs due to wind have caused fatalities amongst professional and amateur operators in the past. In this post, learn about the top most important tips for operating aerial lifts safely outside, and when it is too dangerous to use them on windy days.

Did you know that the pre-start inspection is one of the most important yet poorly executed components of preventing aerial lift accidents? It’s true! The pre-start inspection looks at the physical and mechanical components of the lift, in addition to the visible and audible alarms and important fluids. From the controls to the wheels, everything must be checked to make sure there aren’t any damages or defects that could make the lift unsafe to use. Environmental inspections are also made to ensure there are no hazards in the nearby area, in addition to assessments of the personal protection equipment operators use to minimize their risk of injuries and fatalities. A seemingly tedious task, the pre-start inspection is one of the most important components of operating an aerial lift on a day-to-day basis and preventing serious accidents. Learn more about each of the components of the daily inspection in this post, as well as how you can complete your aerial lift training to protect your life on the job.

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