Aerial lifts are mobile, reach heights up to 180 ft., and allow workers to access elevated jobsites. They can also be risky, particularly for workers who are unfamiliar with aerial lift safety hazards.
Aerial lifts include boom lifts, cherry pickers, telescopic boom lifts, scissor lifts, manlifts, aerial work platforms (AWPs) and other mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs). Aerial lifts in general – and each specific type in particular – pose unique hazards. Failure to recognize these dangers jeopardizes safety for any operator. Roughly two dozen American workers die each year using aerial lifts. Clearly, identifying aerial lift hazards and boom lift hazards is an important part of safe aerial lift operation.
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What Are Aerial Lift Hazards and Boom Lift Hazards?
Boom lift hazards are worksite risks that can lead to accidents, injuries, and fatalities. If aerial lift hazards go undetected or unaddressed, they can put lift operators, bystanders, and others in danger.
There is a risk of accidents at every job, and workers need to be aware of boom lift hazards so they can safely perform their jobs. Plus, if workers can manage aerial lift hazards, they can reduce the number of aerial lift incidents at their jobsites.
Common Aerial Lift Safety Hazards
Here are five of the most common aerial lift hazards:
Falls happen for many reasons, such as:
– Lack of fall prevention equipment
– Working in high winds
– Working on unstable ground
– Moving an aerial lift while the platform is elevated
– Standing on the platform’s railing
– Work distractions
– Hitting objects
How to prevent this type of aerial lift hazard:
To limit the risk of aerial lift falls, OSHA advises lift workers to stand firmly on the floor of the platform. Workers should also use a body harness or belt with a lanyard attached to the platform or boom.
In addition to following OSHA recommendations, there are many other things that employers can do to prevent aerial lift falls and associated boom lift hazards, including:
✓ Keep aerial lifts clutter- and debris-free
✓ Ensure workers wear footwear that provides adequate traction
✓ Do not operate an aerial lift in extreme wind or other severe weather conditions
✓ Educate workers about falls and other aerial lift safety hazards
Falls are dangerous, but they are preventable. With the right approach to aerial lift safety, an employer can help its workers avoid aerial lift falls and maximize their workplace productivity and efficiency.
Workers who perform aerial lift tasks under live wires are prone to one of the most serious aerial lift hazards: electrocutions. Although electrocutions occur less frequently than falls, they remain major problems for aerial lift workers — and must be prioritized accordingly.
Avoiding this boom lift hazard:
– OSHA provides the following aerial lift safety guidelines to help workers avoid electrocutions:
– Avoid placing an aerial lift directly under live wires
– Assume all power lines are live
– Maintain a safety zone of at least 10 ft. from overhead lines
– Ensure workers wear insulated gloves, helmets, and other protective equipment
– Deactivate live power lines before starting work whenever possible
If aerial lift workers believe electrocution dangers are present, they should not work until these boom lift hazards are addressed. That way, workers can avoid unsafe work conditions that otherwise can lead to electrical shocks.
Electrocutions are serious, and employers must plan for them. If an employer provides aerial lift safety training to its workers, it can teach them about electrocutions and further minimize risk across its worksites.
3. Aerial Lift Tip-Overs and Collapses
Aerial lift tip-overs and collapses put workers and others at risk of injuries and fatalities. Common causes of lift tip-overs and collapses include:
– Failure to inspect an aerial lift before use
– Improper lift setup
– Placing the lift on sloping or unstable ground
– Working in high winds
– Too much weight on the platform
How to avoid tip-overs and improve aerial lift safety:
Inspect an aerial lift before raising the platform. To keep the lift stable, set outriggers on pads or level ground and set the brakes with outriggers. Also, use wheel chocks on sloped surfaces.
Workers must stay within the weight and reach limits of an aerial lift, too. They should travel only when the lift is lowered, and they should not operate the lift in poor weather and high winds.
4. Being Hit with Falling Objects
Falling objects can strike workers near an aerial lift, as well as people on the ground. Objects can fall from a lift when:
– Workers are careless with tools or equipment
– High winds blow objects off the platform
– The platform strikes an object, which causes a piece to break off and fall
– Items fall off during a tip-over or collapse
Preventing this boom lift hazard:
To prevent falling objects, workers should not carry unstable loads or objects bigger than the aerial lift platform itself. All platform openings and gates should also remain closed while the lift is in the air.
In addition, workers should not use tools while an aerial lift is being moved. Workers on the ground should be aware of their surroundings, avoid standing too close to the lift with the platform raised, and wear hard hats and other protective gear.
5. Ejections from the Lift
Workers ejected from an aerial lift are susceptible to severe injuries or death.
Aerial lift ejections can occur for a number of reasons, such as:
– The aerial lift platform strikes an overhead object
– A vehicle strikes the lift on the ground
– A tip-over or collapse
Avoid these aerial lift hazards with these tips & tricks:
To prevent ejections, workers must ensure the aerial lift load is stable. This requires setting wheel chocks, outriggers, and brakes on a level surface.
Furthermore, workers should close off a work zone with signs, lights, and cones. If an aerial lift is near traffic, workers should wear a full-body harness attached to a lanyard.
Aerial Lift Safety Hazards Checklist
The aforementioned aerial lift safety hazards are problems at many worksites nationwide. But, with an aerial lift safety hazards checklist in hand, workers can boost safety across their work environments.
Initially, workers should perform a pre-inspection before they start using an aerial lift. The pre-inspection involves evaluating the lift and vehicle components and ensuring they are in working order. If any problems are identified, the aerial lift must be repaired or replaced.
Aerial lift workers should also analyze their work environment. Poor weather conditions increase risk, and aerial lifts should not be used in these conditions. Additionally, aerial lift workers should watch for electrical power lines and cables, unstable surfaces, and other environmental dangers.
Workers must have the right fall protection equipment at their disposal whenever they perform aerial lift tasks as well. They should also follow safe aerial lift operating practices and avoid:
✓ Exceeding an aerial lift’s vertical or horizontal limits
✓ Using the lift as a crane
✓ Surpassing the lift’s load capacity limits
Aerial lift safety is an ongoing initiative, and an employer must dedicate the necessary time, resources, and energy to educate its workers about aerial lift hazards. By offering a comprehensive aerial lift safety training program, aerial lift workers can learn what it takes to safely perform everyday tasks. They can also embrace opportunities to improve their worksites and limit the risk of on-the-job accidents, injuries, and fatalities.
Protect Against Aerial Lift Hazards with Certification from ALC
If your business wants to teach employees about scissor lift hazards and boom lift hazards, there is no need to wait. Thanks to training programs from AerialliftCertification.com, you can help your workers safely operate aerial lifts.
Our aerial lift safety certification and training teaches workers how to identify and avoid scissor lift hazards and accidents. All of our classes are OSHA-approved, take about an hour to complete, and can be completed anywhere internet access is available.