Aerial Lift Inspection Techniques and Best Practices

The safe operation of any machine demands regular maintenance and routine inspections. This is especially true of industrial vehicles. Aerial lift inspection can help ensure a safe working environment for all employees. 

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What is an Aerial Lift?

Aerial lifts are used for various tasks on construction sites, including window-washing and painting services, sign work, cherry-picking, and tree work. They are high-risk and involved in many accidents every year, due to the fact that they are large and heavy machines. Aerial lifts come in a wide range of sizes and with a variety of features. All versions serve to lift up workers to perform duties at great heights. 

Boom lifts are one type of aerial lift. They feature hydraulic arms that can be maneuvered around obstacles and extended to higher elevations.Regular boom lift inspection is crucial to the health and safety of workers on the job site. 

What is an Aerial Lift Inspection?

An aerial lift inspection requires employees to analyze a lift and ensure it is working correctly. It also involves identifying any nearby hazards that could interfere with aerial lift operation.

When it comes to an aerial lift inspection, it helps to be diligent. A thorough inspection ensures any dangers are identified before they otherwise lead to accidents. Additionally, aerial lift inspection requirements are crucial. If an employer follows standard requirements for aerial lift inspections, it can help its employees evaluate aerial lifts and any associated dangers and resolve them right away.

Aerial Lift Inspection Requirements

OSHA has aerial lift inspection requirements that apply to businesses that use lifts. The requirements stipulate that workers must assess the vehicle and lift components before they use an aerial lift.

An employer must teach their workers about aerial lift inspection requirements, so these employees understand what they need to do before they can use an aerial lift. Employers can also provide workers with an aerial lift inspection checklist.

How to Inspect an Aerial or Boom Lift

The boom lift inspection process doesn’t have to be a difficult one. With the right training and experience, workers can conduct thorough safety inspections without getting behind schedule. This recommendation isn’t just a suggestion or an option, either – OSHA actually requires all aerial lifts to be inspected before use. Skipping out on an inspection could put workers’ lives at risk while also opening up employers to expensive OSHA fines.

There are other good reasons to perform routine boom lift inspections, too. Daily operational inspections can lengthen the life of your equipment. When caught in early stages, mechanical issues can be nipped in the bud – as can regular wear and team. When you’re ready to inspect your aerial lift, use the following checklist as a guide:

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 aerial 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. The lift must be removed from use until repairs are made. To comply with OSHA, aerial lifts must comply with American National Standards for Vehicle Mounted Elevating and Rotating Work Platforms under ANSI A92.2-1969.

To reduce time for boom lift inspections while ensuring all components are checked, you can create an aerial lift pre-use inspection checklist that every inspector must follow. The inspector should list any issues they note with photos of the defective components.

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.

Look for:

 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.

Inspecting PPDs

These often get overlooked during the pre-job boom lift 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:

  • Fall protection systems
  • Lanyards and body harnesses
  • Guardrails with attachment points
  • Insulating gloves, boots, and clothing
  • Insulated hard hats

One of the most critical aspects of aerial lift safety is training employees on how to inspect and use a lift. If you don’t already have a process in place with written instructions in place, make it a priority to create such a process.

An employer must train workers on how to use the lift, which includes recognizing when something is wrong. They also must teach someone or multiple people on how to perform an aerial lift inspection that meets OSHA requirements. This can include proper documentation and photographs as well as necessary reporting procedures and removal of the lift from use until repairs have been made and the lift reinspected.

Failure to keep an aerial lift in working order as mandated by OSHA can cost a business in hefty fines and other penalties. It also increases the risk for accidents and serious injury, which can mean lawsuits for the company.

Aerial safety training teaches workers how to use a lift and how to identify issues and the need for repairs. It also allows the workers to earn OSHA certification.

OSHA Certification for Aerial Lift Operators

Aerial lift inspection is simple when you’ve been properly trained to operate these machines. Just as daily inspections are required by OSHA, so too is the certification process. OSHA mandates that workers must be certified every three years in order to legally operate these machines. Skipping out on inspections or certifications could mean expensive fines, dangerous safety violations, or both. 

At, we make it easy to comply with OSHA requirements. In just an hour’s time, workers can learn all they need to know to safely operate aerial and boom lifts. Convenient and affordable, our offerings are ideal for new and experienced aerial lift operators alike. To learn more, contact us online or call us today at (888) 278-8896.