Tipping over is the main cause of injuries and deaths associated with aerial lifts. To reduce the risk of tilting, short metal legs called outriggers are attached to aerial work platforms (AWPs). The purpose of outriggers on scissor lifts and other AWPs is to help keep them stable. Aerial lift tip-overs can result from either failing to use or incorrectly using outriggers.
Some lifts come with outriggers already attached. Others are added later as accessories. AWP outriggers come in various designs. Some fold out from the lift’s sides. Others are fastened directly to the machine’s framework. Outriggers on some older lifts may need to be lowered by hand to place them firmly on the ground or slab. Newer lifts usually have motors or hydraulic systems that lower and seat the outriggers. Top of the line machines have self-leveling outriggers that automatically lower and adjust each leg for maximum stability and support. For added safety, many aerial lifts have interlock devices that keep the boom locked in the stowed position until the outriggers are deployed.
Scissor Lift Outriggers
If the work platform is low and the scissor lift is on solid ground or a concrete slab, you might not need to use the outriggers. If a fully extended scissor lift is on soft ground or exposed to high winds, it’s a good idea to stabilize the lift by using its outriggers. When the outriggers are down, the scissor lift is supported by both its wheels and the outrigger’s four legs. The weight of the lift is also spread evenly across a wider area, which makes it more stable. Scissor lifts can carry more weight than most other types of lifts, which make outriggers an important safety feature. Large, rough terrain scissor lifts used in heavy construction can carry loads of more than 50,000 pounds of workers, tools, and materials.
Outriggers aren’t used just on scissor lifts. They’re also used to steady vehicle-mounted boom lifts, cherry pickers, cranes and other AWPs. Outriggers are especially helpful when using lifts on job sites with rough, uneven terrain.
Outriggers are easy to raise and lower. Some lifts have self-leveling outriggers that adjust each leg for maximum support and stability. An example is the Genie® GS™-3232 scissor lift, which automatically levels the lift on slopes of up to five degrees. Sometimes outrigger boards are placed under the outrigger legs. These help to spread the weight over a wider area. They’re also used when the lift is on soft ground to make sure the outrigger’s legs don’t sink in and cause it to tilt. It’s a good idea to use outrigger boards on indoor jobs where the legs might leave marks or scratch expensive flooring.
Outriggers and Worker Safety
It’s the employer’s responsibility to provide their employees with a safe place to work. Part of workplace safety involves proper training. Lift operators need to be trained to control the lifts and operate accessories such as outriggers. Here are a few tips on how to use AWP outriggers:
- – If possible, use an outrigger pad underneath each float or foot. Many organizations have adopted this practice and had have good success eliminating the guesswork for operators in the field.
- – Always be sure to set the brakes when using outriggers
- – As an added safety measure, place wheel chocks under the vehicle’s tires
- – Before moving the lift, see that the booms are cradled and the outriggers are properly stowed
- – Never use aerial lifts on slopes that exceed the manufacturer’s slope rating, even if outriggers are available
- – Be sure the operator is trained and certified to properly set up and level outriggers
- – Always check for loose soil and other subsurface hazards before deploying outriggers
Aerial Lift Training and Certification
OSHA requires employers to keep workplaces free from hazards that could cause serious injuries. Failure to do so can result in hefty fines, prison time or both. Worse yet, the lack of adequate training could result the serious injury or even death of an employee.
It’s the employer’s responsibility to make sure that anyone operating an aerial lift has been properly trained, evaluated and certified. The easiest, fastest and most affordable way to train aerial lift operators is through AerialLiftCertification.com’s online Aerial Lift Operator Training program. Employees can be certified in as little as just one hour. There’s no need for employees to take time away from work to attend off-site classes. All training can be completed in-house. Training can also be completed using a smartphone or other digital device any time of day or night and anywhere there’s an Internet connection available.
OSHA requires the employer to keep certificates on file for each operator to show they have been properly trained. As soon as the employee finishes the training, the certificate and a temporary card for the operator’s wallet can be immediately downloaded and printed. A permanent card for the operator will be mailed to the business within seven to ten days.
Thousands have already used AerialLiftCertification.com’s programs for operator training and certification. Contact ALC today to get started on our Online Operator Training and Certification Program. You’ll rest easier tonight knowing you’re on the way to 100% compliance with OSHA’s aerial lift operator training and safety requirements!