Working on aerial lifts involves many hazards – enough to cause about 26 worker deaths each year. Some of the leading causes of these deaths are tipovers, electric shock, and being crushed. One common thread that runs through all of them is a lack of proper safety training. According to OSHA, training is vital for preparing workers to avoid hazards and prevent accidents. This training includes learning how to inspect the aerial lift before starting a job.
It may seem a bit much to inspect an aerial lift before every job. But there are many reasons for doing so. Of course, worker safety is the #1 reason. Aerial lifts are complex machines with a lot of controls and moving parts. It only takes one damaged or broken part to cause an accident that can result in injury or death. Aerial lift mishaps can also injure people on the ground. This includes people helping out on the job and others just walking through the area.
Daily inspections can also extend the life of the aerial lift. When spotted in the early stages, minor damage or wear and tear can be taken care of before they become big problems. This saves time and money to be avoiding high-cost repairs.
Inspecting aerial lifts before starting each job also sends a key message to workers. It shows the company puts safety first. It also shows it is serious about following OSHA guidelines.
Pre-Operating Inspection of Equipment
Before every work shift, workers need to conduct an aerial lift inspection. (OSHA defines an aerial lift as any vehicle-mounted device used to elevate workers.) This will ensure all lift parts are in safe working condition. This can include:
– Articulating boom platforms
– Extendable boom platforms
– Aerial ladders
– Vertical towers
– Any combination of the above
When inspecting the basic components of the lift:
– Check fluid levels for the oil, hydraulic fluid, fuel, and coolant
– Look for fluid leaks
– Make sure tire pressure is correct
– Check the wheels for damage or loose lug nuts
– Make sure the battery has a good charge
– Test the following to make sure they are in good working order:
– Lower-level controls
– Horns, lights, alarms, and gauges
– Steering and brakes
Inspecting the Work Platform
The next part of the lift inspection involves the operating controls. These must be in top working condition at all times. Parts to inspect include:
– Operating and emergency controls – all levels, buttons, switches, and alarms
– Personal protection devices (PPDs) – guardrails, cages, platform, and safety belts
– Fuel, hydraulic, air, pneumatic and electrical systems
– All insulating components
– Any missing or smudged warning signs, placards, and lift instructions
– Fasteners and locking pins
– PPD harnesses and cables
– Stabilizers and outriggers
– Any loose, missing, or damaged parts
OSHA certification standards are very clear. If any part of the aerial lift is damaged or missing, it may not be used until repairs have been made.
Inspecting the Work Zone
Next, inspect the work zone and the area around it. This helps protect workers in the lift and on the ground. It also protects people on foot who are not involved with the job.
– Any drop-offs, holes, or unstable surfaces
– Loose dirt and gravel
– Too-short ceiling heights
– Slopes, ditches, or bumps in the road
– Objects and debris on the floor
– Overhead power lines and cables
– Overhead obstructions like boxes, cages, and ramps
– Wind, rain, snow or other risky weather conditions
– Nearby high foot traffic areas
Be sure to inspect the setup of the aerial lift. When possible, do not set up the lift between overhead hazards. Always assume overhead wires are live unless told otherwise by the power company. Maintain a distance of at least 10 feet from the lines. When possible, have the energy company power down the cables during the job.
To ensure the lift is stable, set the outriggers on a solid, level surface. Use pads if needed, and make sure the brakes are set. If it is safe to do so, use wheel chocks on sloping surfaces. Post cones and signs around the work site to point out hazards and create a safety zone.
These often get overlooked during the pre-job inspection. Yet, they are perhaps the most important part of the process. Even when safety rules are followed, accidents can still happen. When they do occur, PPDs can help prevent or arrest falls. They can also reduce injuries. Make sure workers have the right PPDs for the job and that they are in good working condition.
PPDs can include:
– Lanyards and body harnesses
– Guardrails with attachment points
– Insulating gloves, boots, and clothing
– Insulated hard hats
The Easy Way to Get Your Aerial Lift OSHA Certification
When you need fast, affordable aerial lift safety training, check out the program at AerialliftCertification.com. Our online certification class is OSHA-compliant, and only takes about an hour to complete. It can be taken at any time on any device that is connected to the internet. Workers will learn all they need to know about aerial lift safety, including inspections. So join today and complete your aerial lift certification during your lunch break.