Aerial Work Platforms (AWP) have replaced ladders and scaffolding on many job sites for added convenience and a boost in efficiency for workers. Their mobility and flexibility allow operators to reach otherwise inaccessible areas and present fewer risks than using an easily compromised ladder. However, since this type of work involves risky actions, using an AWP comes with its safety hazards. These include tipping or collapsing of AWP caused by unstable groundt, inclines, slopes, and debris. These occurrences are the primary causes of injury and death for workers.
It is imperative to the life of the operator and everyone in the general vicinity to understand these hazards and to understand the steps available to reduce incidents caused by AWP’s.
Inspect The AWP For Proper Working Conditions.
Before operating an aerial work platform, the operator must perform an inspection of the equipment and check for: bent or broken structural members, hydraulic or fuel leaks, damaged controls and cables, loose wires, and cracked welds. Also, inspect the condition of the tires, fuel, and hydraulic fluid levels, and whether there are any slippery or unsafe conditions on the platform. Neglecting these findings and working on a potentially compromised AWP may result in accident, injury, or fatality.
Assess The Environment Before Operating an Aerial Work Platform.
Look for ditches, drop-offs, hills, slopes, debris, overhead obstructions, and power lines. Many accidents have occurred because workers didn’t asses the environment around them carefully. Operators have been seriously injured and killed by collapsing AWP’s, and catapulting out of a falling AWP. Sinking ground, soft ground, hills and slopes, and unstable ground undetectable from snow are all previous causes of injury and fatalities.
Review The AWP’s Wheel Loading Identification.
It is important never to exceed the load rating of a wheel. The wheel manufacturer determines this rating, and can be contacted if there is any confusion. If this rating is not available, the wheel should not be used. If workers merely guess the wheel load and exceed this rating, it can compromise the function of the AWP and can cause the ground underneath to give way.
Follow Safety Protocols.
Never let the pressure to complete a job keep you from following safety protocols. In fact, your life may depend on it. Operating an aerial work platform should never happen on an incline, a hill, or unstable ground like sand or mud. If the ground in and around the work-site does not seem strong enough, you should never operate the AWP. These circumstances are what causes accidents and AWP’s to tip over, collapse, and lead to injury and death.
Operating an aerial work platform deserves careful consideration before it can be deemed safe to operate and supported by sturdy ground. All operators of AWP’s need to be certified and trained in the steps taken to assess an AWP properly, including the surrounding environment. The online program through AerialLiftCertification.com can be completed in about one hour, at home or during a lunch break, and for a fraction of the price compared to other training programs. Ensure safety is always the top priority at all work-sites and the necessary steps are taken to reduce any accidents or fatalities from occurring due to unsafe conditions.