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How to Prevent Boom Lift Accidents

boom lift accidents

Boom lift accidents are one of the top causes of injuries, fatalities, and expensive equipment damage on worksites across the United States. The amazing reach power of boom lifts is what allows them to scale skyscrapers, clean windows on the 10th floor of buildings, and rescue riders stuck on roller coasters. But it’s these same capabilities that make them so dangerous. Without the proper safety practices and operator training, boom lifts can be responsible for severe injuries, fatalities, and costly fines.


The Main Types of Boom Lift Accidents

The majority of boom lift accidents are a result of negligence, error, or failure to follow the American National Standards Institute’s and OSHA’s guidelines. Accidents can result in death or severe injuries. Safety violations are the most common cause of boom 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 boom lift accidents from the following causes:

  • – 69 electrocutions from improper boom lift use
  • – 64 falls
  • – 46 collapses/tip-overs
  • – 23 caught in/caught between
  • – And 5 other deaths related to boom lifts.


With 207 aerial lift deaths from 1992-1999, 70 percent of those were boom lift accidents.

How Do Boom Lift Accidents Lead to Aerial Lift Fatalities?

Unfortunately, aerial lift fatalities are not uncommon. When workers are not properly trained to recognize and avoid hazards, they are much more likely to get involved in accidents that lead to fatalities and severe injuries.

These types of accidents include:

  • – Getting too close to power lines and getting electrocuted
  • – Positioning the boom lift on uneven ground and causing it to tip over
  • – Passing underneath a fixed object that collides with the lift and causes it to tip over or the operator to catapult from the platform
  • – Workers not using proper safety protocols on the platform and falling off the lift
  • – Workers being caught between the lift or guardrail and an object and being hit by falling objects

While these types of accidents can happen out of nowhere, they are most commonly a result of operator error and a lack of proper training.

A few years ago, a Notre Dame college student was working as a videographer for the football team and working on a scissor lift to get a good view of the team’s practice. One day, the student videographer was up in a scissor lift during very high winds. However, he was not given the proper training needed to recognize the very real hazard and to understand that he should not have been up in the lift. With a strong gust of wind, the scissor lift tipped over, killing the student.

Accidents like this happen every year and it’s important that every person who works with aerial work platforms get the training they need to stay safe and avoid aerial lift fatalities.

Causes of Boom Lift Accidents

Boom lift accidents often involve bucket ejections when safety harnesses and equipment like lanyards aren’t properly used. Collapses/tip-overs occur from broken equipment. In addition, electrocutions from overhead power lines account for one-third of accidents when workers do not maintain the OSHA suggested 10-foot distance. Also, during repositioning of the bucket, workers are often caught in between the bucket or between other objects.

Most all boom lift accidents can be avoided by keeping the buckets away from overhead objects, like power lines, using proper harnesses and safety gear, and keeping the lift away from obstructions, including other workers.

How to Prevent Boom Lift Accidents (with Video)

Boom lift accidents are serious, but often preventable. Specific safety procedures and boom lift training are the most effective ways for workers to avoid accidents altogether and prevent injuries and deaths. Additionally, having trained operators with boom lift certification is what OSHA will be looking for if they ever show up on your worksite to perform an inspection. If they find that you have untrained workers, they’ll most likely write up a fine that can potentially run into the thousands!

How to prevent boom lift accidents video

According to OSHA, here are the various safety precautions operators and employers must take to prevent boom lift accidents:

Use Proper Fall Protection

  • – Body harnesses and lanyards must be used on boom lifts at all times; guardrails must be used on scissor lifts
  • – Stand firmly on the bucket
  • – Never belt off to adjacent structures


Traveling and Loading

  • – Load capacity limits must not be exceeded
  • – Do not put objects that are larger than the platform in the bucket
  • – Do not drive the boom lift with the bucket raised
  • – Do not exceed vertical or longitudinal limits
  • – Do not operate the boom lift in strong winds or other poor weather
  • – Do not override safety devices


Overhead Obstructions

  • – Be aware of all overhead structures and objects
  • – Keep clear of overhead hazards when positioning the boom lift
  • – Keep a ten-foot distance from power lines and consider them to be live
  • – Make sure all nearby power lines are de-energized


Stabilization of the Boom Lift

  • – Set outriggers on flat surfaces
  • – Use brakes with outriggers
  • – Use wheel chocks on sloped ground when safe to do so
  • – Set up work warning zones with cones and signs


Boom Lift Training

  • – Ensure all operators have completed training and have their boom lift certification
  • – Provide refresher training after an accident or near-miss occurs, or when a new boom lift is being used


Avoid Boom Lift Accidents with Boom Lift Training from ALC

Most boom lift accidents occur when safety guidelines are ignored, such as driving a lift while it’s extended, exceeding manufacturer requirements, operating on uneven surfaces, and neglecting the proper training. 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.

Our online program is easy, quick, and conveniently accessible from any device with an internet connection. Once workers have completed the modules at their own pace, from home or at work, and have passed all quizzes and tests, they will be able to print their operator card.

Workers will learn the tools and techniques they need to prevent boom lift accidents, including:

  • – How to operate cherry pickers, telescopic boom lifts, articulating boom lifts, and scissor lifts
  • – How to perform equipment inspections
  • – How to properly assess the surrounding environment
  • – How to spot hazards
  • – How to recognize maintenance and repair needs
  • – How to prevent accidents and avoid aerial lift fatalities


ALC is also completely OSHA-compliant, which means you’ll also be able to avoid costly fines and serious legalities.

For only $299 for the entire training kit, your workers can be trained for as long as they are aerial lift operators. Create an account on our website and receive your boom lift certification to prevent boom lift accidents in only one hour!


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