There are many hazards associated with aerial lifts, and there is an average of 26 aerial lift-related deaths that occur every year. While there are various causes of these deaths, including tip overs, electrocutions and being crushed, a common thread connecting all of them is a lack of proper safety training. According to OSHA, training is essential for all workers to prepare them to avoid hazards and prevent accidents from happening.
Before an operator steps into an aerial lift and uses it to complete various tasks, certain inspections and protocols need to take place to ensure the vehicle and surrounding area is free of any hazards.
Pre-Operating Inspection of Equipment
Before each and every work shift is started and an aerial lift is used, workers need to complete a pre-start inspection of the equipment to ensure every part of the machinery is in safe working condition. The first component of the pre-start inspection is the checking over of the vehicle’s components. Workers need to look over the following areas:
- Fluid levels, including the oil, hydraulic fluid, fuel, and coolant
- Any fluid leaks
- Wheels and tires to ensure they are not low or damaged in any way
- Battery and charger to ensure it is adequately charged
- Lower-level controls
- Horns, lights, alarms, and gauges
- Steering and brakes
The next component of the pre-start check is the inspection of the components of the lift which includes the bucket or platform. These components are what the operator controls when maneuvering the aerial lift and are required to be in tip-top working condition. Workers need to inspect all of these areas of the lift:
- Operating and emergency controls, which include all levels, buttons, switches, and alarms
- Personal protection devices including the guardrails, cages, platform, and safety belts
- Fuel, hydraulic, air, pneumatic and electrical systems to ensure there are no leaks or shortages
- All insulating components including fiberglass materials
- Any missing or unreadable warning signs, placards, and instructional, control, and operational information
- Mechanical fasteners and locking pins
- Protection harnesses and cables
- Stabilizers and outriggers
- Any loose, missing, or damaged parts
- Sturdy and undamaged guardrails for safety
If a worker finds any of these vehicle components to be missing, damaged, defective, or to cause confusion, the aerial lift is not to be operated until all repairs and replacements are made by a qualified personnel.
Inspection of Work Zone and Surrounding Area
After an inspection of the vehicle and all personal protection tools have been completed, a thorough inspection of the immediate and surrounding work zone is required to ensure a safe working environment. This inspection not only protects the aerial lift operator from any hazards, obstacles, or dangerous overhead objects, but it also protects workers-on-foot who may not be aware of the intentions of the aerial lift. Many aerial lift accidents involve pedestrians being seriously injured or killed when they are struck by, crushed by, or pinned against an aerial lift. These are the reasons why a thorough inspection of every area of a work zone is essential for everyone’s safety, and the efficiency and productivity of the work site.
The various components all workers need to inspect in the work zone are:
- Any drop-offs, holes, or unstable surfaces on the ground, including loose dirt and gravel
- Too-short ceiling heights
- Slopes, bumps in the road, or nearby ditches
- Obstructions and debris on the floor
- Overhead power lines and communication cables
- Overhead obstructions like boxes, cages, and ramps
- The presence of ice and severe weather conditions like high wind and heavy rain or snow that may reduce visibility
- The location of other workers and high traffic pedestrian areas
Personal Protection Devices
In addition to these important inspections, workers should also ensure they have the correct personal protection devices on hand, including fall protection systems, that are in safe working condition to prevent accidents. These tools include a full-body harness, lanyard that is attached to a guardrail or other attachment point, hard hat, and insulating gloves, clothing, and boots to prevent a fatal electrical shock.
Aerial Lift Safety Training
If you need to complete your aerial lift certification to be as prepared and informed as possible to avoid hazards and serious accidents, check out the program at AerialliftCertification.com. Their certification class is online and offers the most convenient and affordable training option to workers that can be taken at any time on any device that is connected to the internet. And the best part is that it only takes about one hour to complete the comprehensive, OSHA-compliant aerial lift training. So join today and complete your aerial lift certification during your lunch break.