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Scissor Lift Wind Restrictions: How to Safely Operate Aerial Lifts on Windy Days

Scissor lift wind restrictions are important factors for all aerial lift operators. These restrictions must be followed; otherwise, aerial lift operators may inadvertently put themselves or others at risk, particularly when they use a lift on a windy day.

There is no telling when wind may impact an aerial lift operator’s ability to safely complete their everyday work. Employers that prioritize safety training can ensure their aerial lift operators will know exactly what to do in high winds or other inclement weather conditions arise.

A Closer Look at Scissor Lift Wind Restrictions

Inclement weather comes in many forms. Oftentimes, aerial lift operators will avoid using a lift in snow, sleet, and rain. On the other hand, they may continue to use a lift in windy conditions — despite the fact that strong winds can make a lift unstable and lead to tip-overs.

Scissor lift wind restrictions must be understood and followed at all worksites where aerial lifts are present. That way, aerial lift operators are well-equipped to avoid using a lift if the wind becomes too much to handle. They will also know how to track wind speed and determine if and when a jobsite becomes unsafe.

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How to Determine It is No Longer Safe to Operate a Crane in Windy Conditions

When weather conditions change, project managers and site supervisors must make the decision as to whether an aerial lift may be operated safely or if the work should stop. Manufacturers of the lift will provide maximum wind speed to operate boom lift and other specifications for how and when a lift may be used in windy conditions. These specifications depend on the type of load. OSHA also provides guidelines and rules for operation of aerial lifts during windy conditions.  

If there is no data, the managers and supervisors must use general safety protocols from industry associations to make the determination. The direction of the wind is another important component. Winds that blow behind the lift will have a different impact than if the wind is blowing to the side or in front.

➼ The Direction of the Wind and Impact on Aerial Lifts

When the wind blows from behind the lift, it can cause the load to be blown off. It increases the radius while at the same time decreasing the capacity of the lift.

When the wind shifts to the side of the lift, it can cause the load to blow off the vertical and put an added side load on the lift. The wind tunnel effect happens when you have a lift in between two structures. The velocity of the wind can increase, which may cause the safe limit for the lift to be decreased even if the general wind speed is below.

Are Employers Responsible for Teaching Workers About Aerial Lift Wind Restrictions?

As an employer, it’s important to teach workers about aerial lift wind restrictions and other OSHA aerial lift safety requirements. Because, if you ignore these mandates, your workers face an increased risk of aerial lift accidents.

To better understand the importance of man lift wind restrictions, let’s consider a real world example involving a scissor lift operator.

A Notre Dame University student was tasked with filming the school’s football practices while on board a raised scissor lift. It was a windy day, and the student worker — who had not received aerial lift safety training — was told to climb onto an aerial lift and film practices from above. That day, wind gusts exceeded 50 mph, and the lift was raised to approximately 40 ft. Tragically, the high winds caused the lift to tip over, and the student was killed.

The aforementioned tragedy highlights one of the key reasons OSHA imposes man lift wind restrictions that apply to all types of aerial lifts — because failure to operate an aerial lift safely puts an operator, bystanders, and others in danger. Thankfully, OSHA’s aerial lift wind restrictions help improve workplace safety by requiring workers to analyze the current wind conditions before operating an aerial lift and immediately halting work whenever wind speeds exceed safe levels.

How to Teach Workers About Man Lift Wind Restrictions

Working with aerial lifts in high winds requires comprehensive safety training. As an employer, it is your responsibility to ensure all workers receive OSHA-approved aerial lift certification and safety training.

Aerial lift certification and safety training teaches workers about a wide range of bucket truck wind restrictions and guidelines, such as:

1. Never Operate an Aerial Lift in Winds Over 20 MPH

Falls are the leading cause of construction industry deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). They’re also among the top causes of aerial lift operator deaths and often occur due to high winds and other severe weather conditions.

According to the Beaufort Wind Force Scale, most powered access platforms and boom lifts should only be used when winds are less than level 5 on Beaufort’s scale of 0 to 12. Level 5 is described as a “fresh breeze.”

2. Stay Within the Lift’s Vertical or Horizontal Reach Limits

Before operating an aerial lift, operators need to read and understand the manufacturer’s instructions for vertical and horizontal reach limits. When these limits are exceeded, balance and stability issues can occur, especially in high wind conditions.

As a general rule, the higher the lift is raised, the more cautious your workers need to be. It’s also important to take into account the combined weight of your workers, along with any tools or equipment on board when calculating the load weight. Using outriggers and stabilizers also helps steady a lift during high wind conditions.

3. Watch for Electrical Power Lines and Other Potential Hazards

Power lines present a safety hazard to aerial lift workers. When setting up a worksite, employers and workers need to ensure that there are no potential hazards near an aerial lift, as well as verify that wind levels are below OSHA bucket truck wind restrictions.

In addition, aerial lift operators must remain at least 10 ft. away from live electrical lines. They must also wear protective clothing, such as hard hats, rubber boots, and insulated gloves.

4. Use Fall Protection Equipment

Fall protection equipment is designed to prevent workers from injuries or fatalities as a result of falling from an aerial work platform. Protective equipment includes full body harnesses, shock-absorbing lanyards, and platform guardrails.

OSHA states that fall protection harnesses aren’t required on scissor lifts if there is a properly functioning guardrail system in place. If, however, there isn’t a guardrail system in place or the system isn’t fully functional and safe, harnesses and lanyards are mandatory. Even on lifts with guardrails and fall protection equipment, OSHA bucket truck wind restrictions prohibit them from being operated in winds that exceed 20 mph.

5. Prioritize Lift Stabilization

Along with using fall protection equipment, proper stabilization and positioning play important roles in preventing aerial lift accidents.

Lift stabilization involves placing an aerial lift on level ground. Whatever the type of aerial lift, ensuring it’s stable and secure is crucial.

Other Weather Hazards to Consider

High winds pose serious problems for aerial lift operators. But, other harsh weather conditions can also hamper an operator’s ability to safely use a lift.

Along with high winds, other weather hazards that aerial lift operators need to consider include:

Cold Temperatures

Winter brings frigid temperatures, and aerial lift operators must wear appropriate cold-weather clothing and accessories. Hats, gloves, and other winter apparel is crucial for operators who use a lift in low temperatures. In addition, aerial lift operators should limit their time outdoors in cold weather. They should also take their breaks indoors, so they can warm up throughout their work shifts.

Another concern with cold weather is how it impacts the operation of the lift. When the temperature drops, it can cause the hydraulic fluids to become thicker, which can slow down the operating speed and lead to a slower response time. Many of the components may not be lubricated properly. The machinery may warp and become more brittle rather than having the normal strength and load capacity.

Hot Temperatures

Summer brings hot temperatures, and aerial lift operators can be exposed to extreme heat for extended periods of time. Aerial lift operators should stay hydrated as much as possible in hot temperatures. They also should take frequent breaks to avoid heat exhaustion. If aerial lift operators feel severe heat is becoming too overwhelming, they should notify their supervisors immediately.

 Rain and Snow

Rain and snow can make it difficult for an aerial lift operator to focus on the task at hand. In instances where rain or snow creates unsafe work conditions, aerial lift operators stop working. Furthermore, it helps to keep an eye on the weather forecast. If rain or snow may be coming soon, an employer should tweak aerial lift operators’ schedules as needed.

Diligence is paramount, particularly when it comes to severe weather. Employers that recognize the importance of workplace safety can take measures to prevent aerial lift operators from working in high winds or other harsh conditions. They can also do their part to educate workers about aerial lift wind restrictions and other workplace safety requirements.

The Bottom Line on Scissor Lift Wind Restrictions

It is beneficial for employers to dedicate time, energy, and resources to teach workers about aerial lift safety. With an extensive aerial lift safety training program, you can educate your workers about boom lift wind restrictions and why they need to account for wind when they use an aerial lift. Additionally, you can teach your workers how to minimize the risk of aerial lift accidents, as well as reduce or eliminate the risk of OSHA compliance penalties and fines.

Of course, you need the right aerial lift safety training provider to help you teach your workers how to properly use an aerial lift in all types of weather conditions. By partnering with AerialLiftCertification.com, you can make it simple for workers to learn about aerial lift wind restrictions and other aerial lift safety topics.

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Partner with AerialLiftCertification.com for Aerial Lift Safety Training

AerialLiftCertification.com is the leader in OSHA-compliant operator training and safety programs for all types of aerial work platforms. Our training courses are fast, easy to complete, and affordable. Plus, our online programs were created by highly experienced aerial lift and scissor lift operators who understand all aspects of aerial lift safety. We offer an Operator Training Kit to ensure each of your workers is certified and compliant with OSHA. We also provide a Train a Trainer course if you want to manage your own training. With our Bundle package, you can get both courses to increase your savings. 

To learn more about aerial lift safety training or to sign up for any of our courses, please contact us online or call us today at (888) 278-8896.

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