Operating an aerial lift can be daunting, especially if you’re the one standing on the elevated platform accessing buildings or power lines. The risk of accidents is present on every worksite, and it’s important to be aware of the most common aerial lift hazards, and to complete an aerial lift certification to prevent accidents.
Articulating aerial lifts and telescopic boom lifts can reach hundreds of feet vertically and horizontally to access work sites. OSHA advises that all lift operators stand firmly on the floor of the platform, avoid climbing on or leaning on the guardrails, use a body harness or belt with a lanyard attached only to the platform or boom, and make sure all access gates are closed.
Studies show that as much as half of aerial lift fatalities from the years 1992 to 1999 were caused by electrocutions during power line work. OSHA requires that all operators wear their fall protection equipment, avoid placing the lift directly under live wires, maintain at least 10 feet from overhead lines, wear protective clothing, and assume that all lines are live. Workers must also give at least 10 feet between them and any electrically conducive objects.
Unstable Lift Tip-Overs and Collapses
Tip-overs and collapses of the aerial lift occur because of unstable positioning. Workers must set outriggers on pads or level ground, set the brakes with outriggers, use wheel chocks on sloped surfaces, and set up work zone warnings to stabilize the lift. Operators must also follow the weight and reach limit guidelines, travel only when the lift is lowered, and avoid operating in poor weather and strong winds.
Being Hit with Falling Objects
While typically less common, on-foot workers are also vulnerable to aerial lift hazards. When operators attempt to carry objects bigger than the platform, carry unstable loads, don’t ensure that all openings and gates are closed, or use tools in the working position when the platform is moving can all cause objects to come loose, fall, and hit ground workers. Workers must be very aware of their surroundings, avoid standing too close to the lift with the platform raised, and wear protective gear like hard hats.
Ejections from the Lift
When the lift is positioned close to a busy street, workers can be struck by vehicles and ejected from the platform. To prevent ejections, workers must ensure a stable load by ensuring wheel chocks, outriggers, and brakes are employed and set on a level surface. Workers should also set up a work zone area with signs, lights, and cones to close off the area. Fall protection is especially important for operators working near busy traffic, which includes a full body harness and attached lanyard.
Aerial lift training from AerialliftCertification.com teaches workers all about these hazards and how to avoid them, along with all safety procedures for operating, traveling, stabilization, and positioning of aerial and scissor lifts.