Common Aerial Lift Hazards and Safety Tips
Aerial lifts can make your job much easier thanks to their mobility and flexibility but they also represent a safety risk. Take a look at these common aerial lift safety hazards and follow our simple tips to avoid them.
1. Electric shock
Electric shock can occur with close proximity to power lines. Even when you aren’t on the platform, a shock can transfer to you through your machine if it isn’t electrically insulated – and most of them aren’t.
Take care to keep your aerial lift from getting too close. If you’re not an electrical worker you should maintain at least 10 feet of clearance from power lines. Treat all power lines, wires and conductors as if they’re energized, even if they appear to be insulated.
2. Falls or ejections from the basket
Falls from an elevated height can be caused by any number of hazards. To prevent yourself from falling from the platform or being ejected while moving the aerial lift use a body harness with a tie-off attached to approved tie-off points on the platform or basket not a nearby structure. The points will be noted with stickers or decals. Stay tied-off while raising or lowering the machine and while moving the equipment to another location.
Your machine becomes less stable as its height increases. To avoid a tip-over while moving, look in your direction of travel. Keep an eye out for obstacles like debris, holes, uneven terrain or inclines.
High winds and uneven ground can affect your lift even if you aren’t moving. Set the brakes and use wheel chocks when you’re on an incline. Follow the manufacturer instructions on operating your scissor lift or boom lift in high wind speeds. Generally wind speeds should not be above 28 miles per hour though your lift may have a zero wind speed rating.
4. Objects falling from the lift
Any tools or materials falling from an aerial lift can cause you serious injury if you’re standing beneath them when they fall. It’s best to give the boom a wide clearance when walking or working nearby. Never stand directly underneath the boom or basket for any reason.
5. Structural failure (collapses)
Structural failure means your aerial lift collapses from its height. This can be caused by overloading the machine or improper maintenance procedures. Be sure to follow the manufacturer instructions in terms of both operation and maintenance practices. Quick Tip: When you’re calculating the capacity don’t forget to take into account the weight of your tools, material and yourself.
Performing an inspection of the aerial lift will help you determine that all the controls are functioning properly and that the lift is safe to operate. Make sure to complete your inspection before each shift. It may seem repetitive but you’ll be glad to catch a malfunction in your safety equipment or controls before you begin operating the lift rather than during operation.
To read up on Platform Load Sense and how it will affect aerial lift operation take a look at: What is Platform Load Sense: ANSI/CSA Standard Changes