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How to Prevent Boom Lift Accidents

Boom lifts are one of the most versatile types of aerial lifts. They can safely lift workers to heights of more than 150 feet. Once up in the air, they can also extend horizontally. This provides safe access to work sites that otherwise might not be reachable. For example, boom lifts are used to clean windows on the 10th floor of buildings. They allow workers to work on power lines in constricted areas. They can even be used to rescue people stuck on roller coasters or Ferris wheels.

These features make boom lifts the right choice for many jobs. At the same time, they also create a high level of risk on the job. Falls, tip-overs and electric shocks from touching power lines are common boom lift accidents. Without proper training and close attention to safety practices, boom lift accidents can cause severe injuries. Some can even result in death.

What Causes Boom Lift Accidents?

Aerial lift safety standards have improved over the years. Yet, injuries and deaths still occur. According to OSHA, more than 30 workers were killed in aerial lift accidents from 2017 through the first half of 2018. The leading causes of death from aerial lift accidents are:

– Falls

– Electrocutions

– Lift tip-overs or collapses

– Workers caught between the boom and a hazard

Boom lift accidents occur for many reasons. One leading cause is lack of focus on the part of the operator. When working at height, even a small error can lead to a serious accident.  Others reasons often have to do with failure to follow safety guidelines. These include:

– Workers not wearing proper safety gear

– Workers not following OSHA safety standards

– Unsafe operation of the lift while the bucket is raised

– Improper setup of the lift

– Using the aerial lift in unsafe weather

– Lack of maintenance or repairs

– Failure to inspect the lift before use

All of these reasons can be avoided by training and certifying lift workers. makes it quick and easy to get trained online. It also costs less than you might think. Yet, many firms don’t make a point to train their workers. Or they fail to retrain them once their certifications lapse. An untrained worker is an accident waiting to happen.

How Lack of Training Can Cause Boom Lift Accidents

Lack of training is a main source of many aerial lift accidents. In fact, untrained workers are more likely to be involved in accidents. For example, few years ago a Notre Dame student was killed in a scissor lift accident. The young man, who had no training in aerial lift safety, used the lift to film football practice. The day of the accident, winds as strong as 50 mph blew across the field. The student did not know that high winds made the lift unsafe. At one point, a strong gust of wind toppled the lift and the student died from injuries suffered in the fall.

OSHA held Notre Dame responsible for the accident. They also levied a fine of $77,500 for six safety violations. Notre Dame accepted full responsibility for their role in the student’s death. They also launched a program to improve their aerial lift safety process. However, it was too late for the student and his friends and family.

With the right training, this fatal accident could have been avoided. Yet, boom lift accidents like this one happen every year. That’s why anyone who works on aerial lifts should have the proper training and certification.

How to Prevent Boom Lift Accidents

We’ve already listed the four main causes of aerial lift accidents. The question is: why do they occur?  Falls often involve a worker who isn’t wearing a safety harness and lanyard. Boom tip-overs can occur from incorrect lift setup. Broken equipment and high winds can also cause tip-overs. Electric shocks often occur when workers fail to maintain a 10-foot safety distance from a live power line. When workers get caught between the lift and an object, it’s usually when moving the bucket during a job.

With the right training and proper use of safety procedures, boom lift accidents can be prevented. OSHA safety guidelines include:

Preventing Falls

– Workers should wear a harness and lanyard at all times

– Workers should not belt off to nearby structures

– Scissor lifts must be equipped with guardrails

– Workers should stand firmly in the bucket, never on the railing

Operating the Lift

– Never exceed the max lift load capacity

– Don’t put objects larger than the platform in the bucket

– Never drive the boom lift with the bucket raised

– Keep the bucket within vertical and horizontal limits at all times

– Don’t operate the lift in high winds or bad weather

– Never override the lift’s safety devices

Avoiding Overhead Obstructions

– Be aware of all overhead objects before starting the job

– Keep clear of overhead hazards when positioning the lift

– Maintain a 10-foot distance from power lines

– Assume power lines are live unless notified by a qualified source

– Turn off the power to nearby lines when possible

Stabilizing the Boom Lift

– Set outriggers on flat, stable surfaces

– Use brakes with outriggers

– When safe to do so, use wheel chocks on sloped ground

– Set up warning zones with cones and signs

Aerial Lift Training

– Train and certify all operators to OSHA standards

– Make sure workers are certified for the type of lift being used

– Retrain workers after an accident or near-miss

– Provide new training when a new type of lift is used

– Retrain when workers’ certifications expire

Aerial lift accidents can be prevented by training workers to follow these safety procedures. Watch the short video for a quick overview of boom lift safety techniques.


Avoid Boom Lift Accidents with ALC Online Training makes it easy to train and certify your lift operators. The training is fast and affordable. If complies with all OSHA standards. Workers can take the training from anywhere that offers Internet access. They can use a PC, laptop or mobile device that can access the Internet. Training can usually be completed in an hour or so. Workers who pass the online exams can print their certificate on the spot.

To prevent boom lift accidents, the training covers many safety techniques. This includes the safe operation of cherry pickers, telescopic boom lifts, articulating boom lifts, and scissor lifts. Other safety topics include how to:

– Inspect an aerial lift before starting a job

– Assess the work site for hazards

– Recognize maintenance and repair needs

– Prevent boom lift accidents and fatalities

Best of all, our training kit is ideal for companies with ongoing training needs. Instead of training workers one at a time, you can train and certify the whole team at your place of business. Simply create an account on our website and receive your boom lift certifications in only one hour!

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