What is the most important thing you should understand before you use an aerial lift? The information in the operator’s manual. Many, if not most, work-related injuries involving aerial lifts happen when operators assume they know how to operate a lift, but do not follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Regardless of the type of lift you use – a boom-supported lift or a scissor lift – you must follow the lift manufacturer’s operating and maintenance instructions. Also, you must be trained by a person who understands the hazards associated with the lift.
What you must know
- The manufacturer’s instructions for operating the lift.
- How to recognize and avoid operating hazards, such as overhead power-transmission lines.
- The fall protection requirements associated with the lift.
- How to handle materials on the lift and the lift’s load capacity.
- How to report lift defects or maintenance needs.
What you must do
- Keep the operating manual with the lift.
- Use the lift only for its intended purpose.
- Know the lift’s rated load capacity and don’t exceed it.
- Inspect the work area and the lift’s path of travel for potential tip-over hazards.
- Inspect the lift before using it to make sure that it is working properly.
- Keep the lift level and stable; use outriggers and intermediate stabilizers.
- Never move the lift when the boom is up and workers are on the platform, unless the manufacturer permits it.
- Stand on the platform’s floor. Don’t sit or climb on the edge of the basket, guardrail, or midrail.
- Close the access gate while you are working from the platform.
- Stay at least 10 feet away from energized electrical power lines.
- Never use the lift during severe weather.
- Use warning signs or barricades to keep others out of the work area.
- Never tie off to equipment or to a structure next to the platform.
- Never use the lift to tow or pull anything.
OSHA’s requirements for aerial lifts
- Aerial Lifts – 1926.453
- Training Requirements – 1926.454
- Manually Propelled Elevating Aerial Platforms – 437-003-0071
- Boom Supported Elevating Work Platforms – 437-003-0073
- Scissor Lifts – Self-Propelled Elevating Work Platforms – 437-003-0074
- Fall Protection: Personnel Lifts Used in Construction – Program Directive A242
How injuries happen: four examples
Click here to view four different injury events involving aerial lifts. What did they have in common? The operators did not follow the instructions in the operator’s manual.