In the fall of 2010, a student employee of Notre Dame University was in charge of filming the school’s football practices from a scissor lift. On one particularly windy day, the untrained worker was told to climb up on the lift and film as usual. The student went up on the lift, raising it to over 39 feet to film the practice. The wind was very strong, with gusts at over 50 miles per hour. The high winds blew the lift over and killed the worker.
Aerial lifts and scissor lifts require comprehensive working in high winds safety training to prevent tragic accidents like the one above. Ensure all workers receive adequate aerial lift certification and safety training to understand when it is and isn’t safe to operate aerial lifts on windy days. Workers also need to know the OSHA bucket truck wind restrictions to ensure they are compliant and as knowledgeable as possible.
Do Not Operate an Aerial Lift During Winds of 20 MPH or Higher
Falls were the leading cause of death in the construction industry in 2014. They are also one of the top causes of death for aerial lift operators, and are often caused by high winds and other severe weather. According to the Beaufort Scale of Wind Force, most powered access platforms and boom lifts should not be used when the wind reaches a level 5 on a scale from 0-12. Level 5 is described as a fresh breeze, and between 17-21 miles per hour. Visually, you notice small trees beginning to sway and wave crests starting to form on inland waters.
Do Not Exceed the Lift’s Vertical or Horizontal Reach Limits
Before operating an aerial lift, be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions for vertical and horizontal reach limits. When the vertical or horizontal reach limit is exceeded, it can stress the machinery and cause balance and instability issues. As a general rule of thumb, the higher the lift goes, the more cautious workers need to be. Additionally, take into account the added weight of the workers and any tools on board when calculating the load weight, and use outriggers and stabilizers to help stabilize the lift.
Watch Out for Electrical Power Lines and Other Dangerous Objects
When working in high winds safety is lowered and many fatalities occur when the worker falls or is blown into power lines or strikes another object like a sign or building. When setting up the work zone, employers and workers need to ensure that there are no potential hazards in close proximity to the aerial lift and that the wind levels aren’t over OSHA bucket truck wind restrictions. When working on electrical lines, remain at least 10 feet away from live electrical lines at all times, and make sure all workers wear protective clothing like hard hats, rubber boots, and insulated gloves.
Always Use Fall Protection Equipment
Fall Protection is a system designed to help prevent fatal falls from aerial lifts. It is required when working at heights of six feet or greater, and whenever working over dangerous objects and materials. Full body harnesses and shock-absorbing lanyards are the main components of fall protection, along with guard rails on the platform, and are used to prevent a worker from falling to the ground or a lower working level. Fall protection systems are very effective at preventing workers from falling and getting injured or killed.
Fall protection is a controversial topic for scissor lift operators. Some say that fall protection isn’t needed with scissor lifts, while others say that it is required.
To set the record straight, OSHA says that fall protection harnesses aren’t required on scissor lifts if there is a properly functioning guardrail system present. If there isn’t a guardrail system in place, or it isn’t safe or fully functioning, then a harness and lanyard are required. However, even on lifts with guardrails and fall protection equipment, OSHA bucket truck wind restrictions prohibit work during 20+ mph winds, the max wind speed for boom lift work.
In addition to having proper fall protection, stabilization and positioning are also important for preventing aerial lift accidents. Stabilization involves placing the aerial lift on even, stable ground. Ensuring the aerial lift is stable and secure is very important, especially when there is a bit of wind that can reduce the stabilization of the aerial lift. Positioning involves watching where you position the aerial lift, which includes overhead objects like electrical lines, structures, and trees. When working outside, poor conditions like strong winds can cause aerial lifts to sway and come into contact with hazardous objects, which can be very dangerous for operators.
Why You Need Aerial Lift Training and Where to Get It
Simply knowing when it is dangerous to operate an aerial lift is not enough to prevent accidents from ever happening. Workers need proper training to be prepared to operate and work near aerial lifts, understand all the potential hazards involved, and avoid the dangers that can lead to injuries and fatalities. Training is also a requirement from OSHA, who says that aerial lift workers must be trained and certified before being allowed to operate a lift.
Luckily for you, this required training is easy, convenient, and affordable with AerialliftCertification.com. Our online programs were created for aerial lift operators, by aerial lift operators, who understand the ins and outs of what operators need to know. We cover how to operate all types of lifts, from cherry pickers to telescopic boom lifts to scissor lifts, how to perform equipment inspections, and how to recognize and avoid hazards.
We are also 100% OSHA-compliant, so you and your employer never need to worry about getting into trouble with OSHA and not meeting OSHA bucket truck wind restrictions.
In only about one hour from any device with an internet connection, workers can complete their aerial lift training and be certified. Operators will be qualified and prepared to operate aerial lifts and scissor lifts safely and understand when it’s safe to use the lifts, including working in high winds safety.
Get in touch with our team today to learn more about our online aerial lift training!