Graphic of an aerial lift accident

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

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.


 Reporting Near Misses